Where Chefs Eat on Vacation: Gregory Gourdet's Seafood-Filled Week in Barcelona
16.11.2023 - 13:25
Welcome to Where Chefs Eat on Vacation, a column in which chefs tell us what they ate on a recent trip.
Top Chef-famous Gregory Gourdet may be known for the Haitian flavors he serves at his restaurant Kann in Portland, Oregon; or the pan-Asian cuisine at Departure, in Portland and Denver, where he worked prior to that. But Spanish cuisine has a special hold on him.
“The last place I worked in New York City was Mercat, which was a Catalan restaurant on Bond Street,” says Gourdet. “I worked there from when we opened in 2007 [until it closed in 2012], so I have an affinity for Spanish cuisine." The James Beard award-winning chef finishes everything he eats—even dessert; and especially chocolate—with olive oil and sea salt as a result.
Gourdet has traveled to Barcelona a handful of times, but this past September was a sentimental return. He was joined by his best friend and her mom—the latter of whom had never been to Europe before. He had the pleasure of showing them all of his favorite spots for heaping seafood and salty snacks in Mediterranean city. “Taking someone to Spain—and watching her experience tapas and tortilla Española for the first time—was a cool experience,” says Gourdet.
Even on a pure leisure trip like this one—where, rest assured, a very good time was had—the wheels were always turning in Gourdet's head. “I feel that the best way to honor the cuisines I've been inspired by was to travel to those countries and just learn as much as possible,” he says. “And the thing on my mind is: How can I take this experience and share it with the world in a way that gets people to make delicious, interesting, global food at home?”
For more on that, check out Gourdet's cookbook, Everyone's Table. To snag his recs for those really delicious tapas and Catalan culinary institutions? Read on.
Did you have a go-to breakfast order throughout the trip?
I'm not the biggest breakfast person, so it was mainly coffee. I would work out at the Soho gym every morning, then grab coffee on the way back. I found this tiny gluten-free vegan cafe where I would get a cappuccino.
What was your most anticipated meal—and did it live up to the hype?
My favorite tapas bar is this place called El Xampanyet. I go every time I'm in Barcelona, and it's usually my first stop. It's always packed. There's usually a line but it moves pretty quickly. And the service is extremely fast, whether they put you in the front or back, or you're standing at a booth. They have a huge selection of seafood: anchovies—I love anchovies—clams, mussels. There's also chickpeas sautéed with pork, and classics like tortilla. It's the epitome of really delicious, simple Spanish food. And the staff is friendly—they all clap when they get a tip, so be