She trained as a nurse, but Roser Torras discovered when she was very young that gastronomy was her great love and almost without noticing, she turned her passion into her profession and, virtually, into the centre of her life. She is a cook by vocation, and a PR natural, one of the most influential figures on the national gastronomic scene—the founder of the national online magazine 7 Caníbales and of Grup Gsr, currently one of the leading companies in events organisation and communications for catering businesses. She admits to feeling a strong attachment to Formentera, a place to which she has been drawn at both the happiest and saddest times in her life.
Interview with Roser Torras
How do you explain your relationship with gastronomy?
I began over thirty years ago, simply because I enjoyed it. I was a nurse, but through a series of coincidences, I had the chance to take on various practical placements in important restaurants. It all started from then, and next year is the 25th anniversary of the setting up of my company, Grup Gsr.
How did 7 Caníbales start?
7 Caníbales is ten years old this year. I had a son, Pau, who died six years ago. When all this started, Pau was part of the company: he was a food journalist. With him and Jordi Parra, who was the head chef, I began to think about doing something different. It was at the time when blogs were starting up. At a meal one day, I suggested to various journalists the idea of what we called at that time “a blog of blogs”. They liked the idea and so we decided to do it. Now it has become a digital magazine; some of the people who founded it are no longer here, but others have come in… It was sheer passion and vocation.
What place does gastronomy occupy in your life?
I have two children, one in heaven and the other, Marc, is with me. They are the most important things in my life. My life is my children and cooking. My whole life revolves around food—my holidays; I love cooking, and always have people around to my home; I love going to restaurants; travelling, reading, analysing…
My whole life revolves around food
I imagine that you consider yourself fortunate to be able to devote your life to your passion…
Yes, very. When I was working as a nurse, I happened to ask if I could do a practical placement in a kitchen, and I was allowed to do it, either by finding someone to stand in for me or by using my holiday leave. This had been my leisure interest for many years, and gradually it grew to be something so important in my life that I had to give it serious consideration. Then I became the marketing manager at a company called Coll Verd, and after that I worked as a manager at Grup 25, a group of 25 restaurants. After that I set up Gsr—and we’re still here, and really happy with it.
What is it that binds you so closely to Formentera?
There is a time before, and a time after, the death of my son Pau. He often used to go to Formentera with his partner. Formentera was his favourite island, along with Menorca. I have lots of friends there. When Pau died, Juan Mari Arzak and some friends took me to Formentera to help me clear my mind a bit. I cast some of Pau’s ashes into the sea at Formentera. I had not been back until two years ago, when I returned with my son and son-in-law, and we were so happy… Lots of things bind me to Formentera: the passion, the sea, that brilliant light which makes me feel at peace… and something as precious to me as my own son.
Roser Torras, founder of Grup Gsr© Roser Torras
Lots of things bind me to Formentera: the passion, the sea, that brilliant light which makes me feel at peace… and something as precious to me as my own son
Do you welcome the gastronomic development that has taken place on the island?
Yes, very much… There are many restaurants offering more or less the same culinary package, but there are always people who stand out… I’m very impressed by the quality of the fish and other raw ingredients in most of Formentera’s restaurants: they have the finest seafood…
I’m very impressed by the quality of the fish and other raw ingredients in most of Formentera’s restaurants
Most restaurateurs on the island would highlight the difficulty of maintaining the continuity of quality products…
Of course, the island is small and things have to be brought in from outside… But it is a problem that people manage to overcome. Somehow, they find a way, and I really like that.
Which are your favourite restaurants on Formentera?
Es Molí de Sal, Es Caló, Can Dani, for the way they deal with the world of wine… There are so many, and I don’t remember all their names.
Do you believe that Formentera could become a foodie destination?
I think, for now, people come because of the sea, but one of the wonderful things about Formentera are the beach bars, or chiringuitos, and the standard of cooking they offer. There are some amazing chiringuitos. The opportunity to have a meal at a chiringuito with a glass of good wine is one of the best things Formentera has to offer and, if I may say so, it’s much better than Ibiza. Here you have lots of chiringuito trails (on foot, by bike, by car and by boat), and this is one of our trump cards that we should play more often, but I only hope it does become a foodie destination.
What do you think is needed to make that happen? Does Formentera need a Michelin star?
People mainly come to Formentera in the summer, and they want quality, the seaside, good food… I don’t know if they need stars. Formentera offers its visitors exactly what they’re looking for. If you have stars, it’s an advantage, because it gives you status and attracts another kind of tourism. A star would go down well, but we have to remember that our visitors want the seaside, good cuisine, good service… And the service on Formentera is fantastic.
The service on Formentera is fantastic
Speaking of staff, the island’s restaurant owners complain that it is difficult to find professionals…
But the impression I get is that the service on Formentera is first class. They make up for any deficiency by putting in a tremendous effort, just as happens with the food.
Which typical island dishes would you choose?
Lobster with eggs and potatoes is a flagship dish, but then they bring out a baked fish that you’d kill for. There’s also the ensalada de peix sec (dried fish salad): I tried Can Dani’s version and I loved it.
How would you describe Formentera in one word?
Formentera is pure magic.
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