Joan Roca

Chef

"Failure is part of learning. You need to take on and learn from mistakes"

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The fact that we continue to learn moves us, motivates us, and keeps alive the passion we need to continue to be creative, to continue doing new things, to keep serving all those who come to the restaurant with very high expectations. So, fortunately, we travel a lot; we go to many places where there are new things to see, to learn and then to apply to your restaurant. In other words, it is the job to continue to learn. I have been involved in training for 20 years. At that same school where we once went to study, I became a teacher and spent 21 years combining what I have told you about the evolution of the restaurant. Fortunately, the school was in the neighborhood next to ours, so was very close and I could go there and teach. At as I taught, I also learned. For me, these 20 years of teaching were also a way of continuing to learn. To teach you have to know; you have to accumulate knowledge to feel comfortable teaching, and that make you continue to learn. I also learned a lot from my students — from the people who came to learn. Everyone came from a different place, just like many young people come from different places around the world to learn at Celler de Can Roca. It is a symbiosis, an exchange of knowledge. We all have experiences, and as part of that cooking is wonderful because, in one way or another, we are all connected to food, but also with cooking. We all have a taste memory, and experiences and a learning experience. Sharing it is fantastic, because everyone ends up learning something from it. I encourage you to continue learning about what you do because it is the most beautiful profession in the world — to learn, whatever you are learning.

Training and learning are key in life, to keep moving forward, to feel good, to feel comfortable, to have a place in a society that is demanding and challenging. You can become much more confident if you dedicate yourself to learning and knowledge. That's why we dedicated ourselves to it. Not only in my case, as I have been training for a while; we have also undertaken training projects. In fact, four years ago we decided to open an additional space aside from the restaurant, called La Masía. It is a place of creativity and research but, above all, it is about learning. We dedicate time, resources and means to train our team. A stable team, but also a team that is trained in four-month periods with us. That is very common in restaurants, and we try to dedicate time and energy to them so that they can really take advantage of the time they spend with us. Obviously, we also travel. And when we traveled, in every city where we stopped, we spent a week cooking, going to cookery schools, and all three brothers taught master classes, which was a luxury because it's hard to get us all together in a classroom. And I thought the classes were great, and really interesting because we tried to tell it all. In other words, we told people about what Celler de Can Roca is like and how we do things there. In other words, we share knowledge. And then some of those students helped us prepare dinner. They knew more and better than us.

"I encourage you to continue learning what you do, because learning is the most beautiful job in the world"

There are many options in the current training curriculum as it is structured for learning to cook, and for gaining that knowledge not just about nutrition, which is obviously very important, but also about how to transform products, and how to cook in a way that is very simple and very fun. It's a wonderful way to convey affection to the people you love at home. For us, it is key; it is vital for the future, so that families stay connected, because there are schools that are already doing it on their own. If they don't have time for cooking, which they should, they take chemistry and make it into a cooking class. This is great; I think it's fantastic because many processes and preparations can be taught from a chemical perspective. In fact, as you know, cooking is about physical and chemical reactions that can be taught from a textbook. But it's obvious that you have to find somewhere for it to fit, because that is key.

Society nowadays is interested in gastronomy. Because it knows that gastronomy is much more — it's health, economy, leisure, well-being, sustainability, ecology... That means that the kitchen is no longer just cooks cooking; it has another, much more important dimension. And we chefs are there, we are the protagonists of that new world. At times, I sincerely think that we are overrated because there are people in society who do much more important things than chefs. But I understand that the role we play has something to do with society's interest in that wider dimension that cooking has today, and that it goes further to all those more open, interconnected fields.

Biography
Joan Roca, winner of the Spanish National Prize for Gastronomy, runs, together with his brothers, the restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, awarded three Michelín Stars. After studying at the Girona School of Hotels and Tourism and traveling around the world learning with the best, the chef returned as a teacher at his school while continuing to experiment in the kitchen at El Celler.