“In the 24 hours after winning the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, we received two million visitors to our website,” he said. “Every day we receive thousands of calls from people requesting a seat in our restaurant.
“It’s really put us on the map internationally… it’s a great achievement for a family restaurant like ours; a reward for all of our hard work.”
But despite the inevitable attention from business investors following that 50 Best win, Joan said he is now reluctant to double up on the success with another restaurant as it would risk disrupting the strong family values and dining experience at the original.
“We want to be there, welcoming the customers, controlling their experience,” he said. “We have a certain philosophy and we need to be there to maintain it. Being number one in the world, people have approached us to open El Celler de Can Roca restaurants all over the world. But we've said no - we don't want to open any more.
“The restaurant’s based on family values; commitment and hard work - we try and convey these messages with the food and the service. We've been working together for 27 years now, we like working together; we wouldn't know how to do this without one another.
“The most important thing is that we've never looked for success, we've just looked to do the job that we love and that's where our strength really comes from.”
In this video interview with BigHospitality earlier this year, Roca said he did expect the impact of his restaurant being named number one on The World's 50 Best Restaurants list to be 'huge' - bigger than the effect of other accolades such as Michelin stars.
Living the dream
Joan Roca opened El Celler de Can Roca with his brother Josep in 1986, next to their parents’ bar, Can Roca. In 2007 – with younger sibling Jordi on board - they moved just up the road to the purpose-built space that remains their home in Gerona.
Monday’s interview concluded with Will Drew, editor of Restaurant magazine, asking Roca for some advice for young, aspiring chefs here in the UK.
“The advice I would give to young chefs is that they enjoy the job they're doing,” he replied. “They should be a happy, always, and not focus on or be obsessed by success or lists or stars. Just be happy with what you're doing.
“Anything is possible. If you have a dream, go after it. Look at us - we come from very humble origins; we've come from zero. And now, we've managed to become the World's Best Restaurant. We did this because we had a dream, and we've pursued that dream. So follow your dreams.”
Joan Roca was the guest of honour at the National Restaurant Awards on Monday evening. The Hand & Flowers, Tom Kerridge’s pub-restaurant in Marlow, was voted the UK’s best restaurant, snatching top spot from The Ledbury.
The Restaurant Show runs from 7-9 October at Earl’s Court Two in London. Click here for a full round-up of the trade event.