The One Dessert Jordi Roca Is Most Proud Of - Exclusive

In his years as the pastry chef at El Celler De Can Roca, the three-Michelin-star restaurant (which also boasts a green star) he runs with his brothers Josep and Joan, Jordi Roca has created some remarkable desserts. His approach is influenced by molecular gastronomy, using scientific techniques to coax new flavors and textures out of familiar ingredients.

Tasting Table asked Roca in an exclusive interview what his favorite of his own desserts was, and he replied that it was the Láctic. As you might be able to guess by the name, the Láctic is a milk-based dish consisting of dairy manipulated in several different ways. Per Roca, "I tasted a ripollesa sheep's milk — which is a breed native to our area that gives a sweet and very creamy milk — with it I set out to make a dessert that derived in a base of dulce de leche made with this milk, a cottage cheese ice cream from this milk, [and] a whipped cream of this ricotta." To cut through the richness of all the milk, Roca includes guava sorbet in the dish. Finally, for a touch of conceptual storytelling, Roca adds a garnish that highlights the origin of the ripollesa milk. "We served [it] with a paper scented with an essential oil of sheep wool (it smells like a farm, like sheep!) for customers to smell as they eat it."

Telling stories with dessert

Another of Roca's famous desserts, The Rainy Forest, tries to recreate a different sensory memory: The smell and taste of playing in the dirt as a kid. It achieves this with edible soil. Roca works with his diners' senses to transport them to different places. He's particularly attentive to scent and aroma — his A Trip to Havana dish marries a cigar-shaped tube of chocolate ice cream with the smell of a real Cuban cigar. This attention to detail makes him one of the world's finest pastry chefs.

The Láctic dessert was meant to evoke one of Jordi Roca's happy sense memories. "There is a personal story related to the baby smell my nephews had, if you smell a baby's head, it smells like milk and caramel, sweet milk." Though Roca is an advanced technician in the kitchen, he often wields his skills more like a writer or a painter than like a scientist — he's trying to express an emotion or build a narrative with his desserts.

Make reservations to eat at El Celler de Can Roca here.