Many of Barcelona’s food adventures start at the seaside. It’s only natural. From El Bulli to El Celler de Can Roca, gastronomic institutions find inspiration, the physical and mental space and opportunity to experiment during their early days in often small, not-overly-touristy towns on the Mediterranean coast.
Sant Pol de Mar was where my career as a chef started. And it was also Carme Ruscalleda‘s trajectory start point. I had the opportunity to meet her during a masterclass at the Escola Universitària d’Hosteleria i Turisme de Sant Pol de Mar during my student years.
Carme went from working at her parents grocery store in 1975 to opening her own restaurant in 1988 located in a 19th Century house. She now also runs a restaurant in Barcelona and in Tokyo. Her menus started as traditional Catalan menus focused on ingredients locally sourced in the Maresme Region. Carme’s style of food has always inspired me and I’d long waited for the opportunity to try her latest tasting menu and return to the place where we had both started to grow our gastronomic legs. I was in for a treat but was also surprised to see how unrecognisable Carme’s dishes were. All named after and based on the Solar System, her menu is contemporary and conceptual.
As well as an overdue visit Carme’s place, this was a return to my own culinary origins. Being in el Maresme brought back incredibly live memories that reminded me of how much of who I am actually started in Sant Pol de Mar. And how much of that part of me is what I like to share with my fellow foodies here in London.