A trip to Barcelona is not complete without a stop at ABaC Hotel & Restaurant. The hotel seamlessly combines a restful stay in the Catalonian capital with an emphasis on culinary excellence. Since 2010, chef Jordi Cruz has overseen ABaC restaurant. The impressive Cruz received his first Michelin star at the age of 24 in 2002. It should be noted that Cruz is the youngest Spaniard to ever receive a Michelin star and the second youngest in the entire world. With a perennial focus on the ABaC kitchen, Cruz has recently ventured in starring roles on popular Spanish reality shows, like "MasterChef," and penning his own books.
An Andrew Harper staff member had the immense pleasure of interviewing the talented, driven chef Jordi Cruz. Enjoy insight into the mind of one of Spain's most accomplished and award-winning chefs.
ANDREW HARPER STAFF (AHS): Use three words to describe your style of cooking.
JORDI CRUZ: My style of cooking can be described as creative, [ingredient-based] and [a place] where creativity and tradition are merged.
AHS: What is your favorite ingredient to cook with right now?
JC: I love seasonal ingredients, so any ingredient that [is ripe] to cook with it. I don’t have a special ingredient but prefer the best in its season.
AHS: What is the perfect summer meal?
JC: For summer, I always suggest fresh ingredients: vegetables, salads, seafood, fruits. If meat, then BBQ is the best for the summer season.
AHS: What is your favorite food city, outside of Barcelona?
JC: San Sebastián in northern Spain.
AHS: You are a judge on "MasterChef" and "MasterChef Junior," you have a book and are writing a second, and you run multiple kitchens – what would you cook for yourself when you finally have a day off?
JC: Normally something light. I don’t like cooking for myself at the end of the day but something simple and of good quality, like a good Spanish ham.
AHS: What does your perfect day in Barcelona look like?
At the moment, what I do is what I like the best: cooking.
JC: Having our restaurants full. This is a great day for me. I don’t have holidays or days off. At the moment, what I do is what I like the best: cooking.
AHS: You grew up in Manresa and have cooked in many Spanish kitchens. Have any other types of cuisines or regions influenced your food?
JC: A lot of regions and areas inspire me. Recently, we were cooking cuisine with influences from Japan, Mexican, Italian and French. Also memories of my childhood influence me.
AHS: Do you feel that staying at the ABaC Hotel enhances your experience at the restaurant?
JC: Of course, ABaC is a great gastronomic experience. The name comes from the Roman name Abacus (Bacchus) which has a lot of meanings. It was selected because it means 'table full of good grapes.' Our kitchen is open for all our guests. They pass it while we are working; they can see, smell and ask any question. We have a cellar with more than 1000 types of wine. We try to make a celebration on the table. It is a unique, complete, gourmet experience.
AHS: Have you ever had a meal that you would be willing to travel across the world to have one more time? What is that meal and where is it?
JC: I went to Jordan to try the original "Mutabal," an eggplant puree with tahini, as well as Rome to eat Burrata, pasta Amatriciana and Pecorino. [In Spain, I traveled] to Galicia to eat centolla crab and to San Sebastián “chuletón” meat.
AHS: Where is your dream vacation?
JC: I would love to visit Egypt or to Xi’an to visit the Terracotta Army.