Unfazed by pressure of being No. 1

After the closure of Spanish chef Ferran Adria's highly acclaimed elBulli in Catalonia three years ago, the spotlight is on another famous restaurant in the region - El Celler de Can Roca.

Yet Spanish chef- owner Joan Roca is unfazed by the growing scrutiny surrounding his 28-year-old restaurant, which is ranked No. 1 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list.

He says in Spanish via a translator: "elBulli is elBulli, and no other restaurant in the world wants to be it.

"There is more pressure because people watch us closely, but we don't let it affect us and change the way we work."

His two brothers, Josep and Jordi, work with him. Josep is the restaurant's sommelier while Jordi is the pastry chef.

On the dynamics of working with his brothers, Roca says: "We always look for a consensus. There's no fighting. We're very lucky because we share a lot of passion for our profession."

Roca, who attended the awards ceremony on Monday, was also a presenter at the first Asia's 50 Best Restaurants forum held the day before.

He spoke about developing skills from generation to generation as well as tapping on one's memory for inspiration in the kitchen.

On the restaurant list, he says: "The list is very important. Besides generating competition among restaurants, it creates union among chefs."

Indeed, the 50-year-old was quite the celebrity during both the awards ceremony and forum, as many chefs and members of the food and beverage industry clamoured to take a photograph with the friendly chef.

This is his first visit to Singapore and he thinks the dining scene here is "fantastic".

He also asks for tips on sustaining a restaurant business. "Singapore works better than Catalonia... economically," he says. "The government doesn't help because it has no money. You should give us tips."

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