Catalan chef Carme Ruscalleda is one of few women in the world to hold the highest Michelin distinction. Known for her perseverance and perfectionism, Ruscalleda has reached Michelin status through the use of freshly-made, quality food products from her family’s hometown of Sant Pol de Mar, just outside of Barcelona.
Ruscalleda started her culinary career by offering homemade dishes to customers at a small food store previously run by her parents. She started working at the store at 17 and had always been surrounded by food and family members who loved to cook. When she and her husband Toni took over, they gradually converted the shop into a deli and started selling products they made themselves. Eventually, the spot developed into what is now known as her award-winning restaurant, Sant Pau. Michelin level recognition came for her combinations of vegetables and fruit with fish or shellfish. Described by Ruscalleda as “home cooking,” each dish captured absolute freshness with the flavors of local Catalan produce.
Following the success of Sant Pau, Ruscalleda received an offer to open an exact replica of the restaurant in Tokyo. She eventually accepted and opened the doors in 2004. A few years later, she took charge of a luxury restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental hotel, located on the glamorous Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona. Keeping tradition in the family, the restaurant is run by Raúl, her son. Her triumph with these ventures has led Ruscalleda to write several cook books including, CR20: 20 Years of the Sant Pau and Cuinar per ser feliç.
In summer of 2018 Ruscalleda announced the closing of Sant Pau in October. She explained that she and her family wanted to finish their adventure of Sant Pau while they were ahead and at their best. She will continue to devote time to other projects, including an effort to introduce healthier food options to schools and hospitals and the development of her Cocina Estudio department. We look forward to seeing what’s next from one of our favorite Spanish chefs!