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Jordi Cruz

Young chef reaches for the stars!

Aged just 17 years he was already head chef and at 24 he scored his first Michelin star. Eight years later, he's at the helm of two prestigious restaurants: Angle and Àbac, both in the province of Barcelona. We discover the passion that spurs this wonder boy of the new Catalan cuisine.


Jordi Cruz

"100% self-taught"

How do you get this far in so little time?
Working hard. I left school at age 15 because I thought I would learn faster by entering the profession, since cooking is a manual skill, a craft; and a craft is learned in the workshop making parts. I'm one hundred percent self-taught; I also spent fourteen years in a restaurant lost in the middle of the mountains (L'Estany Clar in Cercs, Barcelona province) so I had to be very self-taught!
After this long apprenticeship I opened Angle, which is located in Mont Sant Benet, where you’ll also find the Fundación Alicia. I did it out of sheer conviction, to open a restaurant in harmony with Mont Sant Benet, a place I'm in love with. And we got a Michelin star after seven months, which is very unusual. Now, in addition, I manage Abac, which has two stars.

What can avant-garde cuisine contribute to everyday cooking?
Cutting-edge cuisine is not at odds with anything. Cooking is cooking. Tradition, modernity, what do does terms mean? I believe that tradition is what we did yesterday and in the past. Almost certainly, one of those Ferran Adrià foams will be, a hundred years from now, a mere consommé soup, a béchamel sauce. The big difference will be people will remember the author. What we are doing now is sure to improve everyday cooking: there are already companies trying to make home siphons so that haute cuisine will become a part of everyone's kitchen.

How would you define your cuisine right now?
I've always been branded a creative cook, and I love that, but above all I'm a cook who loves to eat. I like everything: there's a time for grilled prawns, there's a time to go to Bulli to see the magic and there's a time to eat a sandwich in a place where they know what they're doing.
At Angle, we make fun food; we're always trying to surprise. At Abac I've tried to create a fusion between tradition and modernity in equal measure. We managed to make dishes that may seem traditional but that, at the same time, have a certain have magic and that's a change from what was being done at Abac, which was pure and simple traditional French-style cooking.

Who is your ideal diner?

Someone who comes to enjoy and who knows what they're looking for. That's the attitude. The diner who comes merely because it is fashionable and who's critical is not likely to enjoy the experience.

And speaking of fashion – are some flavors in fashion now?
Chefs are always looking for something new. I really like sourcing local food but if there are some kaffir lime leaves, a tree from Thailand, which can be frozen and shipped to arrive in huge quantities and in perfect condition, then it's an interesting product that might start a trend. I'm not talking about flying asparagus by plane from Chile. That's a disgrace at an ecological level.

Can you tell us a simple recipe to try at home?
Of course! You take some canned peaches. Add two tablespoons of brown sugar to a frying pan, two pieces of peach with a little butter, a vanilla pod and orange juice. Caramelize until you have a syrup. Place the two pieces of peach on a serving dish, a piece of roast foie gras and some leaves of rocket salad and you've got a great dish!

What ingredient could you not live without?
Salt! You need it in every dish; it makes things tastier. There are some products I really like but you can't put them in every recipe. But with salt you can, even in some desserts, like a goat's milk curd with honey, cottage cheese and some flakes of black volcanic salt to add flavor.

What dish could you not live without?
I like so many dishes ... the great thing about seasonality is that it makes you wait in anticipation from one year to the next. When are you waiting for, for example, a good tomato to make a gazpacho ... When I see the season has finally arrived for tasty tomatoes, I call my mother to warn her that I'll be around for gazpacho! There are moods and times for everything. For example, I love a good, juicy, cold watermelon in summer ...

Something you never eat?
Bugs! There was a trend a few years ago for eating insects and I just wouldn't be able to  – not even on a desert island! I'd eat grass and bark first!

What's the worst thing about being a chef?
While far from antisocial, I enjoy going to places where there aren't many people and this way of life fits well with being a chef. For example, I love having day off on Monday. Cooking is a job that takes up your whole life. You work ten hours a day and the rest of the time you're preparing so you can start cooking again ... It is a job that requires vocation, otherwise you'll have a horrible time. On the other hand, you're constantly making things that you feel are yours. When you make your own dish it's like a drug – you get hooked and you need more. I can imagine what going cold turkey must be like! (Laughs) In any case, it's true that for short people like me, making a dish makes you grow ... then you reach your limit and you'll need to make another and another and another...

Comments

  1. TRINITAT   07.05.2013

    FELICIDADES POR TODO..

  2. el comensal accidental   03.08.2010

    Jordi da sorpresas si. Pero perfectas!

  3. carme   30.07.2010

    Excelente entrevista!!!..me he dejado soprender por Jordi hace muchos años en el Estany Clar y no hace demasiado en Sant Benet...experiencias unicas ...Moltes felicitats Jordi!!! Un saludo a todo el equuipo de Delicooks y feliz verano.

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