Off the Table Spain: Joan Roca, Foosball & Family

I might have been miffed by having had my butt kicked in foosball by Joan Roca, one of the world’s greatest chefs. In fact, just the opposite was true.


Off the Table Spain: Joan Roca, Foosball & Family

We had both laughed so hard during our match and anyway there was a bigger story to be told, one we each believed in deeply and that had drawn us together.

If you’re interested in the world of food, it doesn’t take long before the name Roca crosses your radar – as in Joan, Josep and Jordi, the legendary brothers of El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain. To say they’ve achieved it all in the 30 years since opening their restaurant is not hyperbole. With 3 Michelin stars, a year long wait list and innumerable honors that place El Celler perennially atop the world’s best restaurant lists, what else remains?

Beyond the accolades, there was another, more lasting story to be told – one of legacy, family and shared humanity. The main reason I wanted to profile Joan in Off the Table was our shared belief that food can be a powerful catalyst for fostering education, awareness, conservation and social inclusion. Joan is amongst a handful of visionary chefs around the globe bringing attention, focus and resources to this vision. 

Note It: 

In a country where food culture is rivaled in passion and diversity of opinion only by soccer, Girona holds a special place of honor. Here, there is an uncanny streak of world-leaders.

Before the Roca brothers recent dominance in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants* list taking the #1 or #2 spot each of these last 6 years, there was El Bulli in Rosas, the legendary mold-breaking restaurant of Ferrán Adria, less than an hour’s drive to the coast, which held title of the world’s #1 restaurant a record 5 times.

*Restaurant Magazine complies The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. While no means strictly objective, is has become the most influential list globally.

Go There: Restaurant Can Roca

Can Roca (not to be confused with El Celler de Can Roca) is the working class neighborhood restaurant of Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca’s parents, serving hearty, traditional Catalan fare for the last forty years.

The 35 member team of El Celler has staff meal here every day before service back at El Celler. Keeping them continually connected to what matters most – family, memory, roots and tradition. 

Restaurant Can Roca

Ctra. de Taialà, 42, 17007 Girona, Spain

Tel: +34 972.20.51.19

For the Sweet Tooth: Rocambolesc

The idea of Rocambolesc was brought about by the vision of Jordi Roca, El Celler’s pastry chef, to recreate the dessert cart that used to trolley around El Celler, and bring it to the streets of Girona. While municipal regulations put a dent in their ambulatory plans, they ended up ‘parking’ the cart and opened Rocambulesc ice cream and sweet shops.

There are now locations in Girona, Barcelona, Madrid and Platja D’Aro. 


Original Location: Carrer Sta. Clara 50, 17001 Girona

Tel: +34 972.41.66.67

Take the Pilgrimage: El Celler de Can Roca

Considered a global pilgrimage site for many food enthusiasts, a tasting menu at El Celler de Can Roca lasts 3 to 4 hours. Many diners would say their memories last a lifetime. Can you plan a year (or more) in advance, and arrange your trip around the meal of a lifetime? If yes, you’re in luck, because El Celler is worth every minute of the journey.

El Celler de Can Roca

Carrer de Can Sunyer, 48, 17007 Girona

Tel: +34 972.22.21.57

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