My restaurant makes no sense without the fish market
Spain | Catalunya | Barcelona
“I’m originally from Vilassar de Mar, a small fishing village along the Maresme coast, 30 kilometers from Barcelona. I was born breathing the salty air and grew up playing on the beach, diving, collecting octopus and shells and fishing. Perhaps my passion for fish started then, or perhaps it’s the fact that my family is from Minorca, where I spent all my childhood summers, going out on the boat and catching cap-roig (what they call scorpionfish in Fornells).
In the kitchen, as in life, I’ve always been obsessed with the unusual. I don’t know where this passion comes from, but “commercial” products and ordinary things have never given me satisfaction. In fields like music, clothing and most of all cooking, I’ve always shunned the banal. This is why I have dedicated much of my career as a chef to the preparation and study of what I call “forgotten fish.”
I’ve always been a cook, even before it was my job. At 13 I banished my mother from the kitchen, which became my space. As a child I spent hours making meatballs and cannelloni under my grandmother’s guidance. While my friends were content with boring tomato pasta, I demanded at the very least pork loin, foie gras and langoustines. It’s something I was born with and which I still carry inside me.
I’ve not had a very long career yet, as I’m only 28 and I started cooking professionally at 18. I’ve been very lucky to be able to travel a lot, both for professional reasons and for fun, and travelling has allowed me to acquire a much broader view of the concept of “cooking”.
I’m well aware that the only way to convince a customer is the product: That’s where you win or lose. Naturally there are other aspects that count (like atmosphere, creativity, service) but if the product is not good, the cooking has no content and can’t stand up.
That’s why at Somorrostro we go every day to the fish market at the Barcelona port and buy fish directly from the boats. We make sure we find fish that go beyond the “commercial.” The fact that we don’t have a menu, but cook only daily specials, means we can offer a very varied range of fish. We work with over 40 species. My favorite are bluefish (lliri in Catalan), amberjack (letxa), dolphinfish, kitefin shark, ray, brotula, scabbardfish and weevers.
I know that the sector is going through a difficult time. I personally know many fishermen they’re only talking about one thing: If the price of petrol continues to go up, they say, they’ll be forced to “strike the sails,” to give up their business. They can barely cover their costs, but they have no choice, they don’t know how to do anything else. They’ve been fishing since they were children, fishing is their whole life…
That’s why I think we have to support them. At Somorrostro we promote local fish from the Barceloneta market. We try to inform consumers about the fish they’re eating and where it came from. We know what boat it came from, how it was caught and where. We even know the name of the fisherman.
Within the Barceloneta Cuina association, we work closely with the fishermen. We organize events and promotions, and it’s obvious that their cause is also ours: If the fishermen do well, then so will we. My restaurant makes no sense without the fish market.
We have to remember that working with fish is difficult. Fish lasts less time than meat, it’s full of bones, it demands more work, it’s more delicate, it’s harder to cook… but it’s so full of flavor! I declare myself a lover of fish to the full, and I promise that I will promote forgotten fish wherever my cooking takes me!”.