FOOD TALK | For Michelin chef Jordi Roca, ‘Dessert is freedom’

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Chef Jordi Roca's dessert incorporates techniques used in glass blowing. Photo courtesy of Madrid Fusion Manila.

On the last day of the recently concluded Madrid Fusion Manila 2017, one of the most anticipated talks came from Chefs Jordi Roca and Alejandra Rivas Gomez who own El Celler de Can Roca and Rocambelesc. Known for their creative and out-of-the-ordinary desserts in their ice cream parlor in Spain, the two gave a talk and demonstration entitled “Sweet Anarchy.”

“For Jordi, it is anarchy; it is freedom.  That’s how he feels about desserts,” said Gomez, who was translating Roca’s talk in Spanish to English.

Roca is known to “enjoy surprising the diner at the last moment of the meal.”

H said the dessert is the “final bomb of the menu.”

His sweet creations complement the work of his two brothers, Joan and Josep, who are in charge of their restaurant’s savory dishes and wines, respectively.

“My desserts complement very well the savory starters of my brother, as well as the wines from my other brother. But this is not only only on the technical side but also on a personal level,” explained Jordi said in Spanish.

Spanish chefs Jordi Roca and is wife Alejandra Rivas Gomez share some of the stories behind their noteworthy desserts during their talk at the recently concluded third edition of Madrid Fusion Manila. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

Roca draws inspiration from various things: his family, his memories, books, sounds, colors, and more.

One of the desserts he presented during his talk, for instance, reminded him of his childhood: a sphere of blown caramel in the shape of an apple, which incorporates glass blowing techniques. It is then stuffed with mango foam, and is complimented by raspberries and local Philippine fruits like star apple or kaimito, kamias, and coconut.

Another dessert he presented was inspired from one of his travels in Turkey where he discovered a local sweet called pişmaniye. It is usually made from toasted butter and toasted flour pulled into thin threads. Roca’s take on the desert was complemented by coconut milk ice cream, coconut foam, and some lime zest.

Chef Jordi Roca’s dessert is inspired from one of his travels in Turkey. Photo courtesy of Madrid Fusion Manila

Gomezon is in charge of Rocambolesc, which serves as Jordi’s other playground.

“We want to bring Celler’s dessert to the public so that more people can have it because we know its difficult to make a reservation at the restaurant,” Gomez shared.

Some of the unusual popsicles created by Chef Jordi Roca. Photo sourced from www.rocambulesc.com.

Some of Roca’s creations at Rocambolesc include a strawberry-flavored popsicle made in the shape of his nose; a chocolate-flavored popsicle in the shape of a finger; a mango flavored popsicle in the shape of Jamie Lannister, which is a character with a severed hand from the popular series, Game of Thrones; and a dark ice cream in the shape of Darth Vader from the Star Wars movies.

Roca shared that having a restaurant with three Michelin stars is enjoyable. Their restaurant has been cited as No. 2 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2016.

“He loves his profession. He loves to wake up in the morning just to work, and that’s it; he really is in love. He is not achieving to be successful but simply enjoy very much of what he does,” Gomez shared.

For aspiring chefs, Roca gave this sweet advice, “Be authentic. Do it with passion. The most important thing is to enjoy your work.”