Joan Bosch, Chef at Can Bosch Restaurant (Cambrils, Spain). INC Award for Excellence in Gastronomy.
Restaurant Can Bosch, in the Catalan coastal town of Cambrils, has held a Michelin star for more than three decades. The restaurant’s Head Chef Joan Bosch has just been awarded with the 2018 INC Award for Excellence in Gastronomy. The latest of many recognitions he has received for helping to shoot the Mediterranean cuisine to the top of the international gastronomic rankings. Yet, Joan Bosch’s approach is humble as he explains how his first encounter with the gastronomic world came by chance. Chef Bosch’s parents, his mother an excellent cook and his father a seaman, opened a restaurant where he began his career at a very early age, soon driven by a sheer amount of energy, enthusiasm and the ongoing desire to amaze customers with brand new dishes. Nuts and dried fruits indeed play a prominent role in his cuisine following the region’s tradition, well known for incorporating these ingredients into the foundation of their cooking.
You have just been recognized with the INC Award for Excellence in Gastronomy. Would you have ever imagined to be at the top of your profession when you took over your parents’ restaurant?
I would have never imagined to reach this far, but I am indeed very honored to have a quality restaurant in this moment. I did not start in the restaurant business by choice either. We come from a fisherman’s family, my mum was a great cook and my dad went with the seamen to fish. I am an only child and we started running a bar where people could order the usual vermú, cockles, olives, crisps... Later on we introduced a few tapas dishes on the menu and from there we moved on to mixed platters, after that we moved to a very classical seafood cuisine, in fact fish has always been in the restaurant’s DNA and we know it well. Besides, we always counted on my Dad to bring us good products back from the sea.
Did it ever cross your mind to do something different from a professional perspective?
It didn´t back then. We opened the bar when I was very young, I´d just finished high school, and at that age unless you have a very defined idea of what you are going to do, it is difficult to go in that direction.
You mention that times were very different back then. Do you wish that when you started as a chef the cuisine world had the glamour that it has nowadays? Would it have been easier?
Yes, as soon as I started to take on the role as my own. I could see that people enjoyed what we were producing and could sense that we could go beyond but obviously without being aware of what we could actually reach. After a while we began setting certain goals although it was difficult to follow then as there were hardly any culinary schools in those times.
Your restaurant Can Bosch has held a Michelin star since 1984. What does it take to be a great chef and achieve and maintain such success?
Successful restaurants are those who hold two or three stars. One Michelin star is great to have as a reference point which ensures that quality food is going to be served at that restaurant. In reference to what’s necessary, you need to like it, otherwise it is not possible to last for so long because there are always ups and downs throughout time. You also need a lot of energy, great enthusiasm and the desire to always amaze customers with a different dish and little details that also count, not just food related, but also aspects that are not mentioned so often such as the restaurant’s dining area, which is its face. Everything has to be aligned to make a good impression so that customers are able to leave the restaurant with a positive feeling.
How would you describe your cooking style?
It´s an honest cooking style in terms that we use seasonal products, and a signature cuisine too. There are always a number of popular dishes that we tend to include on the menu if possible. But we always change the dishes depending on the season.
What is there in the Mediterranean region to be the home of so many recognized restaurants and reputable chefs?
Above all we are very much supported by the area’s culinary schools. We have also seen cutting edge chefs here, such as Adrià, the late Santi Santamaría, the Roca brothers at present… It is difficult to mention them all. That fact along with the culinary schools lately reinforced by TV programs has also helped. On top of that, the country has a great cooking tradition with its suquets, zarzuelas, calderetas, for instance, which have always been accompanied by the region’s quality nuts and dried fruits, which have been the backbone of many fish and meat dishes.
What do nuts and dried fruits add to a dish?
In our area, nuts and dried fruits have always been present not only in restaurants, but also in bars, as starters, guisos, picadas, and so on.
What is the nut that is never missing in your kitchen?
Hazelnuts and almonds are never missing at home. Of course you could always find other nuts and dried fruits but those two will always be present. And if they are from our region even more so.
Finally, how do you get inspired to cook?
Since I started working as a chef I get inspired very easily, seeing a simple dish for instance, but what I love the most is to go to the market, where I would love to buy everything to do different things, though it is always one thing what you would like to do, and another what you can do. But if possible, I always let myself get carried away by my imagination.