The pioneering pastry perfectionist tastes sweet success
Part chef, part architect, part magician, Jordi Roca’s name rings out in a country that’s not short of illustrious dessert specialists. His plates are constructed with such extraordinary levels of ambition, skill and attention to detail that the award of this new title is difficult to dispute.
By some distance the youngest of the three brothers that oversee seminal Catalan restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, Jordi attended culinary school in Girona but was unsure of where he could fit into the established family set-up. It wasn’t until he worked in the kitchen’s desserts section under Welsh pastry chef Damian Allsop that he found his true calling, picking up a toolkit of cutting-edge pastry and chocolate skills in the process. In time, the young cook was elevated to pastry chef; first presenting his creations to his brothers, and latterly exercising the same levels of overall control as his siblings, with whom he now co-directs the business.
Jordi is a pastry pioneer and developer of original techniques: Campari and grapefruit juice is painstakingly sealed into a cocoa butter-covered bonbon that explodes on contact with the mouth; a perfect caramel apple is obtained by blowing a finely-tuned mixture of sugars in the same manner as glass. Another stand-out dish arrives in the form of what appears to be uncooked dough, which is undulating on the plate. It turns out to be sourdough ice cream with cocoa pulp, fried lychee and sherry vinegar macaro; it’s both rule-breaking and delicious.
Now in his mid-30s, this eccentric but modest genius has experimented extensively with perfumes - recreating famous fragrances in edible form and even launching his own avant-garde scent based on a lemon dessert. He is also the driving force behind Rocambolesc, an alternative but accessibly priced ice cream and sweet shop that opened in the centre of Girona in 2012. It was recently joined by a branch in the nearby seaside resort of Platja d’Aro, with more in the pipeline. Flavours are reassuringly esoteric - try the Girona apple with local Ripollesa sheep’s milk - with toppings equally left-field. And with demand for reservations at El Celler de Can Roca remaining so high, Rocambolesc successfully brings the chef’s sublime creations to a fresh audience.