Top Catalan chef Joan Roca defends decision to host Spanish king


The celebrated Catalan chef Joan Roca has dismissed suggestions that he is taking sides in the bitter battle over Catalonia’s independence by hiring out one of his venues for a prize-giving ceremony attended by King Felipe. Roca, whose three-Michelin starred restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca, has twice been named the best in the world, says he is being unfairly criticised for agreeing to host the Spanish monarch, who angered many Catalans by refusing to denounce the police violence that met last year’s illegal independence referendum.

The Princess of Girona Foundation awards, which promote young people’s professional and personal development, were due to be given out at a ceremony held at Girona’s auditorium on 28 June. But after the city council said the venue was unavailable because of building works, the event was transferred to Roca’s Espai Mas Marroch, a 15th-century country house on the outskirts of Girona.

News that one of Catalonia’s most lauded chefs was hosting the king did not go down well with some pro-independence campaigners. Lluc Salellas, a city councillor for the far-left Popular Unity Candidacy (Cup), published an open letter to Roca and his two brothers, urging them not to host the event. “Rethink allowing Felipe of Bourbon, who justified the violence against thousands of Catalans – including hundreds of people from Girona – into your house, the Mas Marroch, to preach his words in our region,” said the letter.(theguardian)…[+]