Chef's Table (2015–…): Season 4, Episode 3 - Jordi Roca - full transcript

A tale of three brothers behind one of the best restaurants in the world, with special focus on the pastry chef among them.

From the outside, it looks like a fable.

A story of tradition.

A family born into a restaurant.

A new restaurant built by three brothers.

A great restaurant
with a great reputation.

But it's not what it seems.

It's never that easy.

I am much younger than my brothers.

They weren't my parents,
although they acted like they were.

I felt small. Inferior.

There was no place for me. That was clear.

I didn't want to be Josep's waiter
or Joan's cook.

I was exploring.

What's going on?

You're so late! Are you coming from Tokyo?

Have you put salt in it, Joan?

Okay. Ready.



Because he says so.

This needs two people.

Not only you! You need two people!

The story of the Roca brothers
is a story of family.

You have been very brave!

They still live in the neighborhood
they grew up in.

They have their restaurant there,
in the suburbs of Girona.

Come, come in. Like you're at home.

Their restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca,
has 3 Michelin stars.

How are you?

But they still have daily staff lunch

at their parents' restaurant.

The Roca brothers' restaurant,
El Celler de Can Roca,

is one of the most extraordinary
restaurants on the planet.

The secret is that each one
of the brothers are real experts

of their world.

For food, there's Joan.

For wine, there's Josep.

For pastry, there's Jordi.

Of all the restaurants
in the world that I know,

the desserts that I love the most,
I'd say, are Jordi Roca's desserts.

There is a creative freedom
that is absolutely exceptional.


Jordi's story is a curious one.

On the one side, there were his brothers.

They already had their story,
their restaurant.

And on the other side,
is the great question:

Dedicate himself
to the profession of his brothers

or do something else?

Jordi didn't know where to aim.

He found himself in a no-man's-land.

Let's do it.

My case is strange.

About a year ago, I had laryngitis.

It passed, but my voice was still hoarse.

It's like a tic in the larynx.

I can't control it.

It deprives you of your natural form
of communication.

But there are two ways of seeing this.

For me, it is a limitation.

We need to remove it quickly
because it sticks quickly.

But on the positive side,

not speaking helps you learn a lot.

I only say what I think is important.

I speak when necessary.

It's been a handicap.

But I'm growing as a person.

Taking this condition,

and trying to turn the table,

as I do with the desserts, with the ideas.

Being rebellious.

Being provocative.

Let's think the other way around.

Set out unusual things.

It's a kind of silent life
I've been forced to live.

But I am saying much more in my work.

That is incredible.

Enjoy your meal.

-Should I bring some water?

Yes, if you don't mind.

I became a cook accidentally.

When I got married, I worked
in the kitchen with my mother-in-law

in her family restaurant.

And that's when I dedicated
myself to the kitchen.

My husband was working as a bus driver,
a job he liked very much.

And he saw this place for sale,
where we have the restaurant now.

By the time Joan was 10, 12 years old,

he'd already told me
that he wanted to be a cook.

I asked him, "Are you sure?"
"Yes! Yes! Yes!"

I had two chef's jackets
custom-made for him,

because there weren't any in his size.

At 14, I entered cooking school.

My grandmother wanted me to be a banker,

because banks are air-conditioned,
and people sit at their desks.

Josep studied at cooking school
and, when he finished, he came back here.

At that point we decided,
"Why don't we open a restaurant here?"

Joan and I decided to open a restaurant

when Joan was 22 and I was 20.

Since the age of 12, we worked
in our parents' restaurant regularly.

For us, it was something normal,
something natural.

It is the story of our family.

We had our path in front of us.

Now you versus us.

I was 42 years old when I had Jordi.

Josep is 12 years older
and Joan is 14 years older.

When I realized I was pregnant,

I said, "So nice!
I'm going to be a mother again!"

When our mother said
that she was pregnant, it was...

a shock. We didn't expect it.

I remember perfectly well.

I was in the kitchen. I was studying.

I saw her happy, excited.

We didn't know then
if it was going to be a boy or girl,

but, in the end, it was Jordi.

I love them and appreciate them, but...

I always felt a bit different.


It was hard when I grew up,
because everyone laughed at me.

My nose, it has brought many problems
because, as a child,

I developed my nose
much earlier than my face,

so that I had this huge nose,
enormous in proportion to my head.

At home, my brothers would say,
"Hey, big nose, come over here!"

Even my mother was like,
"What a big nose!"

The typical joke was
I'm sitting in the chair,

and my brothers called, "Jordi!"
I turned and everyone crouched.

And I thought, "Fucking assholes."

It was unbearable.

Girona is a wonderful city,
exactly between

the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees.

It's the best city in the world
in which to live and to cook.

Jordi finds inspiration in aromas.

Fragrances that are in the environment,
in the forest,

in the natural surroundings.

When it seems like nothing new
can emerge...

Bam! A new dish comes

from that inspiration.

Manel, the sheep farmer, came to see us.

And he brought us some sheep's milk
from the Ripollesa breed.

They don't make much milk,

but the quality of the breed
and the protein have an awesome flavor.

He had decided to import them
and rescue the breed.

It was completely new.

At the restaurant, we wanted to make
a new dulce de leche

with that sheep's milk.
It was rare. It was new.

This was around the time
my nephew Marti was born.

When I would smell him,
Marti would smell like milk.

It was a tender moment.

That sheep's milk makes a dulce de leche
with a spectacular sweetness.

And we said, "With this dulce de leche,
we need to make a dessert."

We made a dessert
based on the elements of that sheep.

There's a base
of sheep's milk dulce de leche,

a foam of sheep's milk cheese,

sheep's milk ice cream.

Another part is the cotton candy cloud,
like sheep's wool.

All babies smell like milk
when you smell their heads.

They do so because that's what they eat.

This dish is a tribute to that tenderness.

It's like putting a baby to bed.



Jordi was naughty,
a naughty boy, yes, yes.

It's normal. They all do it.

But, well, what are we going to do?
He is like that.

Jordi's situation is probably
the most complicated of the three of us.

With Jordi, there's distance.

He practically belongs
to a different generation.

But the truth is that,
when we started the restaurant,

we were expecting Jordi to work here,

but we did not know if he would be
fully committed to this.

I wasn't clear about what I wanted to do.

My brothers spent the day
in the restaurant putting out fires,

doing so much. I didn't get it.

I thought, "This is not for me.
These guys are crazy."

I ended up as a waiter
because it was where they needed help.

I was 19 or 20.

I was just partying, going to the disco,
getting drunk like any teenager.

A lot, like everyone.
I just did a little more.

I would finish working
at 2:00 in the morning,

because the waiters finished last.

And so I said I wanted
to be in the kitchen.

I became a cook, so I could leave earlier.

I viewed my work as just a job.

Afterwards, I forgot about it.

But they noticed it because,
when I was working,

I made mistakes and I didn't care.

It was because I didn't see
a future with them.

I didn't see myself, in ten years,
being in a partnership with them.

I was part of the family,

so feeling apart from them was hard.

By inertia, he came to work with us
without having any conviction.

He knows that,
"My brothers are going to give me work.

I'll have something to do."

He'd try to leave as early as possible,

sometimes without finishing
what he was doing.

There was no spark inside Jordi.

There was no passion.

Very good.

To try... I don't know.
I prefer the yellow one, huh? Than gold.

I don't know. What do you think?

There were two purees.
A cocoa one and a...


The Cupuaçu... it's better.

It's much more powerful.
From the cocoa family.

In the end, the effect
we are looking for is this.

This pulp. The bean.

Yeah, it's almost the reverse.

The pulp, the outside of the seed.

We'll make this.

When Damian arrived, I worked with him,
because he and Joan asked me to.

But I noticed Damian cooked fun things.

He was passionate about what he did.

And I could feel it.

When I started with my brothers
in the restaurant,

I was treated like the boss' son,

and it was bad for me.

Damian spoke to me man-to-man,
like a normal person.

And when I had trouble concentrating,
he'd yell at me.

He'd say, "Jordi-fucking-Roca!"

He'd insult me, and I'd say, "Okay, okay!"

But it was like I deserved it,
and I knew I deserved it.

When we were cooking a petit four,

I had to work quick,
so everything would be stable.

But one day, I got excited because,
at a certain temperature, the jelly set.

When he told me the reason
why we did that, in that way,

I understood the importance
of the details.

And I said, "Wow! I like it!"

I understood the game of the kitchen.

I understood the passion of my brothers.

We like to take walks
around the Llémena Valley.

It's the part of Girona
where our parents were born.

We go and gather the dirt around there,
because this is the dirt that

we used to play in as children.

Dirt appears in our cooking
as a way to explain a feeling,

to describe nostalgia or melancholy.

We all have that aroma of moist earth
in our memory.

All of us.

From any culture.

That's why this ingredient is so magical.

I always wanted to have
a dish that I had lived,

that connects me with that memory...

of going back to a place
that connects us all with our origin.

It's a trip to a forest
where it had just rained.

Everyone has played with soil
and accidentally eaten it,

and so that flavor is here
in the hypothalamus,

where the most primitive
childhood memories are.

And it touched those memories.

Through the distillation process,

dirt turns into
an extraordinarily important ingredient.

Jordi, with his dessert,

has made this flavor of moist earth
make sense.

When you taste it,

you're transported to a different place.

The Rainy Forest...
They say it's a dessert,

but I actually believe
it's a great surprise.

And when the dessert arrives at the table,

the big surprise is how,

from a little ball of ice
in front of the customer,

a stalagmite is created.

So it's the surprise. It's the game.

It's very Jordi.

After eight, nine months,
Damian taught me a lot.

But I knew I needed to learn more.

It was summer. It was June or July.

I was living above Can Roca.

It was morning, and I woke up at 9:15.

I looked out the window.

I saw a waiter in the parking lot.

And he yelled up, "Jordi, did you hear
what happened to Damian?"

I was scared.

It was terrible chaos.

Damian Allsop, our pastry chef,
had an accident.

One night, he left his keys at home.

And he fell from the third floor,
trying to climb to his balcony.

I had to make the decision.

It's certainly
a very important responsibility.

I didn't want to have to put
pressure on Jordi.

I was in a panic.

My anxiety rose. My stomach burned.

My heart beat fast as hell.

What do I do? What do I do?

For the restaurant, I had to wake up.

Damian had a recipe file
where he had all his recipes.

And all of them were in English.

I said, "Okay, let's do what I know."

I was forced to not do
one thing at a time,

but, rather, I had to keep track
of 15 or 20 things at a time.

I had to run more.

Start to be more agile.

My friends didn't understand.

"What's happening to you?
Are you crazy? Let's go out!"

I didn't want to go out partying.

I found myself leaving last,
but very happy.

That would have to be like a jelly.
Not the Italian kind?

We were staying on top of Jordi
at that time.

We were watching. We were
very aware of what he was doing.

We had one Michelin star.
We had some recognition.

And it was a risk having someone
who was just starting in the field.

In the beginning, Jordi was making
the desserts he learned from Damian.

They were not that bad.

But they were not extraordinary either.

At that time, there was
much affection and partnership,

much fraternity,
but not professional admiration.

I remember the first time
I invented a dish.

It was for customers
who came every Thursday.

They asked me to prepare
something new for them.

I said to myself, "What do I do now?"

I imagined a cream, a frozen mousse,
made of chocolate and raspberries,

very basic.

I imagined the taste in my head.

It would be new.

It would be fantastic.

When I took it out of the freezer
and cut it and put it on the plate...

it looked nothing
like what I had in my head.

But the nice people who had it
understood I was learning.

And for them, it's a good story.

But it was a piece of shit.

There was a moment when Jordi told us,
"I'm going to take an ice cream class,

because the subject is complicated
and I want to master it."

It was very important

because it's necessary to realize
that, actually, you don't know anything.

That whole week,
we only talked about ice cream.

I didn't know it was possible
to go that in depth into ice cream.

One day, the teacher talked about how
the air is important for an ice cream.

It is very important
that the air is completely clean.

So the ice cream does not absorb odors.

So it does not add another flavor.

I went home
and thought the other way around.

At the time, smoking was permitted
in the restaurant.

Everyone smoked cigars,

and I had that aroma in mind...

the smell of tobacco,
whenever entering the restaurant.

And I imagined the machine in Can Roca
absorbing the scent of tobacco.

And one day, in the morning,

nobody was in the kitchen.

I took a cigar.

I smoked the cigar and blew the smoke
into the ice cream machine,

so the ice cream captured
that part of the air.

And in the afternoon,
I gave it to my brothers,

and they tried it, and they were shocked.

"What is this?"

"It tastes like smoke!"

It was weird, and it was new.

I realized there was a world related
to the sense of smell.

That dish became "The Journey to Havana."

That dish of Jordi's...

It's one of those beautiful things
in this world.

It is one thing to find a way, a job,
and another thing to surprise.

And the moment when Jordi
made "Journey to Havana"

is when Joan and I looked at Jordi
and said,

"How?" "What?" Wow.

Jordi, at that moment,
contributed something more.

It was the magic effect.

The effect of thinking differently,

of contrary thought,
of going against the current.

We understood
that inside our little brother

there was a genius hiding.

Jordi had been chosen
Best Pastry Maker in the World.

The Rocas have been recognized twice
as best restaurant in the world

by The World's 50 Best.

Their customers come
from all over the world.

When they got their third Michelin star,

the people from the neighborhood
went there

and applauded them for ten minutes.

And ten minutes is a long time.

Hey, guys!

It's party time.

-How does this go?
-Let's go backwards.


Nice, nice. Backwards, or...

When I was nine years old,

I loved ham.

I remember they had a ham
perfectly placed in the restaurant.

You're doing it backwards!

No, this is correct.

My brothers used to cut it,

so that they left it absolutely smooth

and they'd know if I'd placed my knife
on it and mashed it,

cut it the wrong way.

Eat ham. Eat ham.

But I couldn't avoid it.
It was stronger than me.

And that marked my life.

Obviously, there's a before and after.

The truth is Jordi brought
a profound change.

I'm absolutely convinced
that our current success

has a lot to do with the talent
that Jordi brought.

Jordi makes
El Celler de Can Roca complete...

makes it richer, with more vitality...

and he makes us grow in a different,
original way, in which three worlds unite.

And this makes us different,
original and stronger.

Like these rocks,
which endure, mold, adapt.

Different, but which have lived
the same course.

The door opened for me, and I thought,
"I can try new things and make mistakes."

I felt recognized. I felt like a grown-up.
I was part of the team.

I realized this is my part.