Family Heritage Updated
Text: Rodrigo García Fernández /©ICEX
Translation: Jenny McDonald /©ICEX
Photographer: Spanish chef Ramon Freixa
Ramón Freixa's cooking style fits perfectly in Barcelona. The result is creative, modern, cosmopolitan, designer cooking. This Catalan chef has often described his cuisine as "based on four pillars: product, technique, feelings and a search for magic".
Ramón Freixa was brought up in close contact with the world of food. His grandparents were bakers and confectioners, his father was a chef and his mother maître, and he remembers playing as a child with the elements they worked with on a daily basis - sugar, flour, eggs and dough. But Freixa insists that he did not inherit his vocation, that it is based on personal conviction.
His parents did, however, help him along. They encouraged him to register at the Higher School for Tourism and Hospitality at Sant Pol de Mar, in Barcelona. After that, he worked in a series of restaurants in Europe, ending up in the early nineties in Belgium, at La Cuisine des Anges, one of the country’s most innovative restaurants at the time. There he worked with a friend of his parents, Nicolas Pequereau, who opened the doors for him to two other restaurants, La Truffe Noire and Comme Chez Soi.
Before returning to Barcelona, Freixa was able to work for a time with Michel Bras who taught him how to use flowers and plants in cuisine. In 1994, he started working at his parents'restaurant, El Racó d'en Freixa at all the different stations, from starters to desserts. In 1998 his father retired and handed the business over to Ramón, who decided to re-design and modernize the menu, but without withdrawing some of his father's creations that customers continued to request. And he did such a good job that he was able to maintain the Michelin star awarded to the restaurant in 1998.
In addition to his work in the restaurant, Ramón Freixa has co-written several cookbooks and has produced some of his own. He also teaches, being the heart and soul of the Coure school (the name is the Catalan verb "to cook"), a workshop where work is also done on creating new dishes for his restaurant.
June 2009 marked an important turning-point in the career of Ramon Freixa. In the center of Madrid, in the Hotel Selenza, he opened a restaurant called Ramón Freixa Madrid. Back in Barcelona, El Racó d'en Freixa changed its name to Freixa Tradició, and there his parents continue to offer the best of Catalonian traditional cuisine.
So Freixa left Barcelona for Madrid, taking with him all the creative talents he needed to devise a short menu full of surprises. The restaurant is small, seating only about 30, and has striking décor. But this is a chef who is not afraid of travel or of new ventures. Just before he opened his Madrid premises, he signed an agreement with the Hilton Melbourne South Wharf to provide culinary advice to two establishments in Melbourne's Nuevo 37, for creative food, and Sótano, a restaurant covering over 1,000 m2 (1,196 yd2) and specializing in Spanish tapas and wines.
Ramon freixa is no longer managing Nuevo 37 and Sótano, but Australian gourmets go on enjoying a new opportunity to taste top-quality Spanish cheeses and charcuterie, as well as standard tapas such as patatas bravas, ham croquettes, gazpacho and a wide selection of pinchos in pure Spanish tradition.
Erre, the last project of Chef Ramón Freixa and one of the most awaited openings of the Spanish culinary scene, bacem true in in October 2012. Not in Madrid nor Barcelona, but in the impressive Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias.