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Mission Europe: Oriol Rovira – Eating Local in Catalonia

I arrived for the Theater of Taste activity, 30 minutes early, as usual.  I was greeted by the incredibly friendly staff and escorted to the best seat in the house.  I readied my notebook, set my camera in place and tuned my headphones to channel 2.  An intimidating chef walked in; he inspected his work space and exchanged words with his assistant.  I could smell the freshly cut onion from the front row.  Oriol Rovira seemed like the serious type, with elaborate hand gestures and a scrunched brow.  He looked like the kind of chef you strive to impress, the kind who always has a facial expression that strictly means business.  That is what I thought, until he looked up, scanned the steadily filling room, looked me straight in the eye and made a funny face that made me giggle inside.  I sighed, relieved; this was going to be good…

Chef Rovira spoke of many topics that resonated with me in a professional sense.  He mentioned the importance of a dish reflecting who you are and what you represent.  He spoke of using lesser appreciated ingredients and elevating them.  The room filled with savory aromas of orange peel, capers and scallions.  He enthused the audience with urges to keep cuisine simple and straightforward.  He cautioned us to always choose the product first and then a technique adequate for it, not the other way around.  He told us of the hardships encountered when working abroad and the reasons for his returning home to create a project that promoted balance, integrity and involvement in the community.

Often, it is difficult to find individuals that are passionate about their work.  Oriol Rovira takes his work seriously, but always enjoys himself.  The dishes we sampled were earthy, playing with complex profiles of sweet, bitter and tart.  Each dish was as delicious as the first and had a personality all its own.  Each bite was smooth and sensual, yet homely.  He closed our workshop stressing the importance of finding a way to come full circle when you cook; learning how to involve every detail from the moment a seed is planted.

Oriol Rovira is the type of chef, although he prefers the term cook, that I would call contagiously passionate.  He was incredible.

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