Houston Chef of the Month for March: Luis Roger
HOUSTON – From BCN Houston Taste & Tradition:
Luis Roger brings two decades of Spanish gastronomy experience to BCN. Growing up around the family kitchen in Barcelona, Roger’s grandparents were a huge influence on his modern Spanish cuisine and his style is rooted in those family’s traditions.
Roger’s professional career began as a student of Culinary Arts at the esteemed Spanish academy, Escola d’Hostaleria Hofmann. While in school, he interned with two prominent catering companies in Barcelona: Esther Conde and Sibaris Catering. While gaining valuable experience as a student, it was Roger’s post-graduate internship at the famed El Bulli that transformed the way he thought about and approached food.
Roger says, “Working under Ferran Adrià changes your life forever. The way he thinks and his ability to bring out the very best in everyone who has the patience and the strength to stay with him. From him I learned the need to preserve the fundamentals of traditional cooking and ingredients as a base for new dishes”.
After completing his time at El Bulli, Roger was given an opportunity which he couldn’t pass up and one that widened his borders. He traveled across the world on a sailing boat where he combined his style of cooking with the local ingredients he found along the way. Despite the trip being cut short after crossing the Atlantic, his curiosity to explore new products and his desire to use new techniques in conjunction with his traditional style expanded. Roger took his curiosity and skills back to his roots at the modern Spanish restaurant, Fragata, just South of Barcelona. Following this, he took the position as Head Chef at Restaurante El Cafè de l’Acadèmia located in the heart of Barcelona’s Gothic quarter.
A year after Roger took a position as Head of Pastry at the five-star luxury resort Hotel Ra where he completed the final step in formation: desserts! His philosophy of modern Spanish cuisine remained the same for him in pastry.
In 2004, leading entrepreneur, Luis Conde, approached Roger to become a private chef at his 15th Century Masia, Mas Anglada, an enclave between the Ampurdà and the Costa Brava. Here, he embraced the rich culinary traditions of the area while focusing on the fantastic quality of the regional products from the farm, the sea and the land. While at Mas Anglada, he was also a Professor at the local culinary school, Aula Gastronómica de l’Emporda.
During this time, Luis also got involved with Fundacio El Trampoli (www.eltrampoli.net), an association which focuses on mentally challenged individuals, particularly children with down syndrome, to help integrate them into society. For three years, he helped oversee a cooking-class program that helped children learn the basics in the kitchen while cooking their own meals. This endeavor holds a special place in his heart, and Roger to implement something similar in Houston.
Two years ago, BCN partner and financial investor, Houston-based commodity trader and fellow barcelonés, Ignacio Torras, convinced Roger that Houston was ready to receive a restaurant with BCN’s philosophy.