In his restaurant Lluerna, located in Santa Coloma, 9km from Barcelona, a chef is creating sensational dishes using fish from artisan fishers. Here, he reflects on his career...
"I grew up in a middle-class family. My mother was an excellent cook. In our house, choosing quality food was always very important. My parents encouraged me to do things with care and devotion, and all things considered, I think I've absorbed their lesson. One day when I was a teenager I told myself that I wanted to make people happy with my cooking. I think this decision was linked to my mother's great love for working in the kitchen and the taste for good food I acquired as a child.
I've almost always worked for small restaurants, like the one I have now: Il Bellini, Gaudí and Hostal Vall Ferrera. Respect for ingredients comes before anything else. Later I moved on to bigger restaurants, like Reno, El Bulli and hotels, but even there, a rigorous love for good ingredients reigned supreme.
At Lluerna, before putting a new product that we like on the menu, we get in touch with the producer and ask them to explain how they work, to tell us about their philosophy and aspirations. Finally we make a few test orders to check that the supply is regular.
Specifically regarding seafood, I have always loved fish, and I've always been interested in where it comes from. A friend introduced me to Ramón Torridas, a local artisan fisherman, and we immediately found ourselves in agreement. Now I buy all the fish he brings me. I like to stay informed about the sustainability of fishing techniques with regards to the survival of different species. I check the relevant lists of fish-thanks partly to Slow Food, this has become much easier to follow-but most of all I only buy from artisanal fishers. We cook many different species and we make an effort to alternate them from week to week. Ramón visits about three times a week. He calls me at 1 pm and tells me what he's caught, then around 4 pm he brings me the fish.
Fish has a place of honor on our menus, because for us, facing the Mediterranean, it is a special product. Pairing fish with vegetables also allows us to develop lighter menus with more different elements.
I'm convinced that all of us chefs need to adopt a more responsible attitude towards consumption and to ask more questions about where products come from, production techniques and producers' living conditions.
It should be said that in the case of Lluerna, the fact that most of the regular diners are food lovers helps us to make progress with this issue."
Víctor's favorite dish is the Catalan fish soup, suquet, that he serves at Lluerna.