Meet Rafa, Roca Moo’s chef


“With passion, discipline, rigor and love for what you do.” This is how you lead a Michelin star kitchen like Roca Moo’s according to its chef, Rafa Panatieri. Originally from Brazil and with Italian roots, he joined Hotel Omm in 2013. Before that, he had worked in El Celler de Can Roca (two times voted as the best restaurant of the world) and in Tragaluz restaurant. Wherever he goes, he takes with him his passion for cooking, his enthusiasm and his creative energy. Today, he tells us part of his story.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a chef? (Laughs). I was in college studying to be a vet and look at me now, here I am!

But how did you go from wanting to be a vet to becoming a chef? I started to cook at a very young age. I come from an Italian family and I grew up watching them cook. It was all about the love for cooking. That’s why I’ve always been and I’ll always be a cook, even if in the future I am no longer a chef. But when did I take that decision…? I wouldn’t know. For me, food has always symbolized joy.

In what sense? I think food brings people together. It represents therefore a moment of happiness, of sharing and enjoying with those who you love. And that is precisely what we try to convey at Roca Moo.

How? We try that those who come to live the Roca Moo experience feel at home, comfortable and at ease. And that somehow, from the kitchen, with our dishes, we can bring to them that joy and passion that gastronomy means to us. I actually think that in a cook it is essential the love to serve.

And at home, what is it that you like to cook? Honestly? I don’t cook that much! But when I do, I like to cook what I used to eat when I was little: bread, pizza, meat, churrasco, legumes… Since I live far away from home, I try to reach back to it through food.

Does this yearning also influence your work in Roca Moo? Definitely, it does! We even apply some cooking methods that I bring from my hometown. For example, we cook the mushroom consomme like it used to be done back at my place when my grandmother was young. This is, preparing and mushroom soup, heating a stone and pouring the broth inside it so it boils.

It’s not an original recipe… Of course not. As a chef many times I recover what I known, I search for stories and then I try to put everything in a dish. At Roca Moo we use many classic recipes which we reinterpret with the creativity and freshness of the whole time, with seasonal products and cutting-edge techniques, thinking about the experience that the diner is looking for nowadays. The mandala, for example, is inspired by a traditional Andalusian orange salad.

“Of the whole team”? Always! What’s more, I need them as a chef, they are the basis of the Roca Moo. Each one brings to our kitchen something fundamental about themselves and their origins. In my team I have Spaniards, Brazilians, Argentines, Portuguese, Chileans, Mexicans… and with all you learn something new because they all have their own family and culinary stories. Together they create the cuisine of this gastronomic restaurant.

Back to your person, an indispensable ingredient would be…? Salt (laughs). It is a flavors impeller!! It is essential in many recipes, both sweet and salty.

Salt in a sweet? Indeed, because it enhances the sweetnest of a dessert. Have you never eaten bread with chocolate, olive oil and salt? It’s one of the best desserts in Spain! And yes, in Roca Moo we’ve also made and keep making some sweets with salt, such as the charcoal pumpkin (“choco calabrasa”) we currently have as dessert in our Moo Menu.

Let’s say that for this interview, as a dessert, we share a gastronomic memory? Mmm… Making ravioli with my grandmother!

In the photo, Rafa (left) with his colleague  Jorge Sastre. From Tuesday to Saturday from 13.30 to 15.30 and from 20.00 to 22.30, come to Roca Moo and share lunch or dinner with them!