Rafael Peña


calle Provença, 230

Rafael Peña was born in Barcelona in 1976. He didn’t attend any cooking school but trained himself in good restaurants. In 1997 he began to work as an apprentice at Neichel, then a two-starred restaurant in Barcelona. He then carried out seasonal internships at El Bulli (1999) and at Martín Berasategui (2000); he worked as chef de partie in Pars at Pierre au Palais Royal, for 2 years, and then as sous-chef at Rolfs Kok in Stockholm. In 2006, together with his wife Mireia Navarro, he opened Gresca. In 2007 he participated in Madridfusión, reaching the finals for best restaurant of the year. As of 2011 he’s a consultant for Hostal Empuries, a totally environmentally sustainable hotel.

Rafael Peña’s cuisine is among the best in Cataluña. It certainly is disarmingly simple, but it manages to transmit an undisputable elegance, both in taste and appearance. There are no spectacular techniques, no superfluous Baroque touches, no unneeded decorations. The dish is neat, the taste idea that he wants to communicate is clear, and flavours are well defined. What we have in front of us is a cuisine that is perfectly balanced between sophistication and taste. It is undoubtedly flavoursome, but with that certain something that makes a difference. It is elegant and freed of its structures and, in some cases, has an almost Zen-like aesthetic. Most of all, it is a cuisine that can be placed outside trends, with no oppressing gestures, pretentious verbosity based on a supposedly creative depth, or handbooks with tasting instructions. Here there is brevity and sobriety. To summarise, his cuisine transmits the sense of assertiveness of he who performs it. And only speaks to the palate.

Every day, his cosy but comfortable bistro in Barcelona is full. This is thanks to the small but spectacular lunch menu, but also to the à la carte dishes and the tasting menu at 55 euros, based on attentively chosen products, always carefully and masterfully used. Rafa’s cuisine has two more characteristics I find irresistible: the acidity and the meat sauces, that he manages to “embroider” with unique elegance.

Has participated in

Identità Milano

Born in 1976, Rafael Peña was trained in the field, in the kitchen of important restaurants, in Spain and abroad (see above). In 2006 he opened, with his wife Mireia Navarro, the Gresca, a fortunate bistro in Barcelona. In 2012, began the original consultancy for Hostal Empuries in Escala, in Costa Brava.


Philippe Regol

A French graduate in Spanish Philology, for 40 years now he’s been living in Barcelona and for 20 he’s been a cook. A lover of gastronomy, he now livens up the Observación Gastronómica 2 blog