Rising Star in Barcelona: Three-starred Cocina Hermanos Torres

Cocina Hermanos Torres is a magical fine dining restaurant founded in late 2017 by renowned Catalan twin chefs Sergio and Javier Torres in the Les Corts neighborhood of Barcelona. Five years after opening, Cocina Hermanos Torres received three Michelin stars in 2022 and a Green Star for its sustainability efforts.

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Cocina Hermanos Torres is undeniably a world-class dazzling restaurant. As I stepped into the establishment, I was completely captivated, unable to distinguish whether it was a kitchen or a dining area, resembling more of an arena for a culinary competition. This location is the result of the Torres brothers’ arduous three-year search for the perfect spot, as well as a fortuitous encounter with an architect who shared their vision and eagerly joined forces. Nestled under the shelter of a historic industrial building’s roof, the heart of the restaurant, the kitchen island, embodies the chefs’ dreams and desires for a unique dining experience.

The dining area surpassed all expectations, immersing me in a world where gastronomy and culture seamlessly blend. The chefs defined their pursuit: “We not only want to integrate the restaurant and the kitchen but also create a kitchen with a restaurant.” Acquiring the rights to nearly 800 square meters of a former industrial building, they invested close to 3 million euros to transform it into a restaurant capable of accommodating up to 50 guests.

The kitchen serves as both a classroom and a stage, with each visitor becoming the architect of their own culinary adventure. The true beginning of this interactive journey unfolds as guests and chefs take on leading roles together. As the curtains rise, a deep bond forms between the culinary artisans and discerning diners. Here, the boundaries between creators and connoisseurs blur, giving birth to a captivating experience where knowledge and interaction take center stage. The kitchen island boasts a series of meticulously designed areas (mise en place), each one serving as more than just a functional space; they are chapters in a narrative, akin to skilled writers crafting engrossing stories. In addition to the kitchen island, the other kitchen spaces are equally astonishing, leaving me in awe and ranking among the most remarkable interiors I have ever witnessed.

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In addition to the stunning space, it is one of the few restaurants where food, service and design never fail to amaze. The meal starts off with a pine nut ball on top of a pine nut ice cream sandwich, which is very eye-catching. Next is a refreshing and flavourful Sake Marinated Squid Tartare, topped with caviar and surrounded by poultry broth; the tartare has a silky texture and is enriched by meat broth and savoury caviar.

Another dish, “From Barcelona to Brazil”, features Brazilian-style stewed mussels with prawns and king crab. Inspired by Moqueca, a unique Brazilian seafood stew, the dish brings together richness of the mussels and umami of the prawns and king crab, using Mediterranean ingredients to reinterpret traditional Brazilian fare that pays homage to the chefs’ time spent in Brazil. The brilliantly coloured, artistically elegant dish impresses me with the restaurant’s solid three-star standard. From the ingredients to the pairing sauce, I have to nod my approval many times because they are downright delicious.

Pine nuts ice-cream sandwich/Barcelona-Brasil: Mussels ‘Moqueca’, Prawns and King Crab

Inspired by the chefs’ memory of their grandmother, the buttery sea fennel béarnaise sauce smoothly blends plump white asparagus and juicy mushrooms, handled ingeniously but still very much focused on ingredients and seasonality. Sea urchin adds seafood flavours to the dish, with airy seaweed foam complementing the pasta. Each dish is vital and gorgeous in colour and presentation.

Fresh Pasta, Sea urchin and seaweed foam

The first seafood main course is red mullet with daikon and meunière sauce. The fish is firm and juicy, perfectly blending with the richness of the sauce. Next up is garlicky suckling lamb with anchovies. Isn’t it fantastic just by the sound of it? Grown on the restaurant’s own farm, the lamb is cooked in two parts until soft-tender and deliciously paired with the mineral and savoury edge of the anchovies. It is the most delectable and impressive lamb dish I’ve ever eaten, and one etched in memory. 

Red Mullet with daikon and meunière sauce/ Suckling lamb, Herbs, Garlic and Anchovies

So far, I’ve been enjoying the logic of the Torres brothers’ menu, which does not seem to be a long list, but hits the nail on the head. The superb combination of flavour, technique and creativity seamlessly guides diners through its highly delicate cuisine. Every little cell in my body was thrilling with happiness.

The palate-cleansing dessert is white vermouth snow ice with lemon and rosemary, together with a sweet and sour wild strawberry sorbet with basil mousse and aged vinegar. The main dessert of the day is chocolate ice cream, chocolate mousse and chocolate chips layered on top of the caramel, a mix of sweetness and bitterness. Finally, I was presented a jewelry box, inside which was an exquisite chocolate praline with a creamy soft hazelnut filling and fine blends of rum. But for those who want to be proposed to, opening this box might be a mixed feeling. Petie fours are wonderful as well. I’m sure this is a veritable three stars even if ten Michelin inspectors were to rate it at the same time, which means that Cocina Hermanos Torres is only going to get harder to book.

Wild Strawberries, basil and aged vinegar/The Jewel: Chocolate rum praline

With the Torres brothers’ vision gradually coming to fruition, each dish proves the power of food in uniting, inspiring, and creating unforgettable memories. Therefore, step onto the kitchen island, embark on a culinary journey that goes beyond a mere meal – it is an immersive experience that stimulates the senses, sparks intellect, and leaves a profound impression. During my visit, I had the privilege of conversing with Javier Torres, discussing the origins of their culinary inspirations and the extraordinary journey they undertook to establish this innovative restaurant.

Javier Torres spoke about the profound influence of their grandmother on him and his brother. She was a skilled chef from southern Spain, having cooked for different families for many years. This role left an indelible mark in the Torres brothers’ hearts. As Javier described it, their grandmother’s dedication to the culinary arts and her passion for flavors ignited a spark within him. The conversation carried personal emotions as Javier shared stories from his childhood. After he and his brother were born, during a time when their parents were busy with work, their grandmother voluntarily came to take care of them. It was during this crucial period that she passed down her culinary wisdom to the young brothers, nurturing their love for cooking and laying the foundation for their future.

Sergio and Javier Torres developed a desire to become chefs at a surprising age– 13 years old. This decision surprised their parents, but their determination remained unwavering. They embarked on a journey of exploring the culinary world, combining learning with practical experience to raise funds for their education. The brothers’ culinary journey extended beyond Spain. They began working in renowned restaurants across Europe. This global experience exposed them to diverse culinary traditions and techniques, greatly enriching their professional knowledge.

“When we started leaving Barcelona, we would never work together until we were ready,” said the twins, who grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Barcelona. On their journey, they worked in different elite restaurants in Spain, Switzerland, and France.

Before moving to Paris to collaborate with renowned chef Alain Ducasse, Sergio worked for two years at Le Jardin des Sens, a restaurant also run by twin chefs. Although they didn’t work together, they would meet once a month at a restaurant, spending all the money they had to dine together and discuss their future plans.

Sergio Torres and Javier Torres

Javier Torres delves into the philosophical underpinnings of their concept, explaining their commitment to sustainable practices and environmental responsibility. Their vision for the future of catering covers a wide range of areas, including reducing paper use, recycling water, energy self-sufficiency, and composting food scraps. The dedication to this mission is evident in the meticulous attention they put into every aspect of the restaurant’s design and operation. From choosing materials for aprons and tablecloths, to the bigger goal of creating an eco-friendlier dining experience, the Torres brothers treat the planet and future generations with a sense of responsibility.

Javier Torres also discusses the importance of time in their culinary creations. He emphasizes the intrinsic relationship between time, flavour and culinary art. This reflection reveals a deeper level of their philosophy – that true flavour requires patience, nurturing and a lot of time.

I gained a deeper understanding of Javier and Sergio Torres’ culinary passion and their unwavering commitment to sustainable and delicious dining experience. Their personal experience as chefs and the values they embody at Cocina Hermanos Torres paint a vivid and inspiring picture of their culinary journey. In the spacious kitchen, the restaurant team are walking back and forth in red sneakers on which the three-star Michelin logo is glittering.

They shape each dish into a form of language, a dish that communicates with the person lucky enough to taste it. It is a wordless conversation, where chefs convey their techniques and passion, and guests respond with joy and appreciation.

The author and chef Javier Torres

Author: Jocelyn 华姐

Photo: Ingstagram@hermanostorres

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