Passionate about her profession and her family, entrepreneurial, creative, self-taught, tenacious, optimistic and positive. This is how one of the most innovative chefs in the world and the first Catalan chef with seven Michelin stars describes herself. Her passion for the flavors and recipes of Catalonia have placed her among the best haute cuisine chefs, a space hitherto strictly reserved for men only. She is straightforward and humble, and she lives and breathes her profession with the same enthusiasm and excitement she had on day one. Winner of the National Gastronomy Prize in 1998 and the Creu Sant Jordi in 2004, among other awards, since 2000, she has published numerous books on Mediterranean cuisine, with an emphasis on modern, easy, quick and tasty meals; including recipes adapted to non-professional kitchens. The most celebrated is Cuinar per ser feliç (2001), Cooking to be happy. In English she has published Carme Ruscalleda’s Mediterranean cuisine (2007).
What qualities are essential to be a good chef?
I think a good chef should have several qualities, they must be hardworking, creative, organised, curious, self-deprecating, and posses the skills to teach and motivate. They must also love their profession.
What has brought you the most joy and what has been the biggest disappointment so far in your career?
I continue giving my all to my profession just as I did on day one, and in return I continuously experience joy. I have suffered very few disappointments, and in facing them, I have always strived to find something positive to take from them.
You are a very creative person, what serves as your inspiration to create new dishes?
Nature is the main source of my inspiration and the enthusiasm I feel for discovering flavors, products and new places. I love eating and I eat absolutely everything, I consider the quality of a sprig of chive, to be just as important as a slice of monk fish. I am especially keen on vegetables.
“Nature is the main source of my inspiration and the enthusiasm
I feel for discovering flavors, products and new places.”
Carme Ruscalleda, photographed by Matti Hillig.
You have broken the mould of the male-dominated world of professional cooking. Why do you think it is that men have been so successful in this domain?
Men dominate because they make up the majority of chefs, and because professional cooking has traditionally always been their domain. But we are currently going through a very interesting social transformation, as men enter the domestic kitchen and women enter the professional kitchen with the same skill and dedication.
“I continue giving my all to my profession just as I did on day one, and in return I continuously experience joy. I have suffered very few disappointments, and in facing them, I have always strived to find something positive to take from them.”
Your children continue the family culinary tradition, what advice would you give them?
That they should feel free and happy in a professional sense, as that´s the only way they can make work that is both original and interesting.
What do you think is the distinguishing characteristic of your three restaurants in comparison to other culinary offerings?
In our three restaurants we offer a cuisine infused with products that are both fresh and seasonal. Our brand is committed to providing pure, clean flavors, and dining experiences that are original, fun and healthy. In each of our establishments we work tirelessly to provide a rich gastronomic experience.
Carme Ruscalleda with her family
Who have you learnt most from?