Impulse and decision
Text: Rodrigo García Fernández/©ICEX.
Image: Spanish chef Jordi Cruz. ©Ábac.
Precociousness applied to cooking. Jordi is a unique example of how vocation (that wonderful feeling of “being called to learn and then to teach it”) can appear naturally, without coming from the outside. Let us explain.
Jordi Cruz (Manresa, Catalonia, 1978) is one of the chefs of the well-known Spanish avant-garde cuisine. But he is not just another chef. One of the things that are probably most surprising about him is his professional precociousness. As he has said on several occasions, Jordi realised that he wanted to be a chef when he was seven years old. And not only did he realise it, but he did all he could as a child to make it happen.
He was a little boy who knew what he wanted. We don’t know what his family thought about this, because no one around him worked in anything remotely connected to catering. So, when he was 14, he began working in the kitchen of the Estany Clar restaurant, in a town in the province of Barcelona. When he was 18 he was appointed head chef and at 24 he was awarded his first Michelin star, which made him the youngest Spanish chef (and second in Europe) to receive this sought-after accolade in the profession.
Years later he left Estany Clar and began at another restaurant, L’Angle, where he was awarded another Red Guide star. His big break in Barcelona came in 2010, when the González Simó family, owners of Hotel Ábac in the city, offered him the position of head chef in the hotel’s restaurant, replacing Xavier Pellicer. In the following edition of the Michelin Guide, presented in November 2011, the inspectors awarded the Ábac restaurant two stars, which confirmed Jordi Cruz’s good work, passion, technique and personality.
One of Cruz’s maxims is to “cook simple dishes with logic and care, also applying the principle of proportionality so that diners enjoy each and every one of the courses on the menu and they are equally enthusiastic throughout”. The Catalan chef likes to define his cooking as “evolving and inquiring, based on the product, where there is room for creativity and tradition”. One of the cooking techniques that he is passionate about is vacuum cooking. He has written about it extensively in his first book, Cocina con Lógica (Cooking with Logic), which he applies based on what he learnt from one of his best teachers, George Praulus, in France. Jordi Cruz paid him an emotional tribute at the BCN Vanguardia conference, which was part of the Alimentaria Barcelona 2012 exhibition.
In mid-2012, Jordi presented an interesting project to Barcelona food lovers, which aimed to enhance the city’s gastronomic map even further: the 10's-Ten’s tapas bar, a temple for signature tapas, also created by the family who owns the Hotel and Restaurant Ábac. The bar offers ten fixed or essential tapas, and others that change every week and get more and more complex.
The fixed tapas include patatas bravas (spicy potatoes), or Andalusian-style squid, while guest tapas can be popular dishes from the Ábac like cherry ceviche or foie gras with figs, for example.
In 2013 l'Angle restaurant changed its location, from the village of Sant Fruitós del Bages to Barcelona city center, in Hotel Cram where Jordi Cruz is also gastronomic adviser.