Barcelona joins forces with renowned chefs to attract foodie visitors

New campaign highlights the legacy of the gastronomic revolution started with Adrià, Ruscalleda or the Roca family as a motive to visit the city

3 min
The cooks -including only one woman- who participate in the campaign

BarcelonaFood is one of the strengths Catalonia can show the world and Barcelona has decided to use it as one of the main attractions to attract more quality visitors to the city. Thus, Turisme de Barcelona has launched a campaign to promote the city's restaurants, called The gastronomic revolution continues in Barcelona. It claims the revolution which starred two decades ago with Ferran Adrià, Carme Ruscalleda or the Roca brothers has continued, and that today you can enjoy this legacy in excellent restaurants which, by themselves, can be a motive to visit the city. The campaign will last at least until the end of the year, and seeks to attract visitors from Spain, other European countries and the United States, and must help the city "proudly raise the flag of its gastronomy," according to first deputy mayor and head of Finance Jaume Collboni.

The campaign launch was attended by around thirty chefs. The promotional images focus on their figure and combine the faces of Adrià, Ruscalleda and Joan Roca with those of other chefs of a younger generation, such as Oriol Castro (Disfrutar), Carlota Claver (La Gormanda) and Raül Balam (Moments), who appears next to Ruscalleda, his mother. A video was also made, where the chefs recall that, after having reinvented haute cuisine, now Barcelona is experiencing a revolution of creativity with fresh, sustainable produce and a return to the roots.

A total of €400,000 have been earmarked for the campaign, which aims to win over foodie travellers, which, according to director general of Turisme de Barcelona Marian Muro, are aged 35 and over, have purchasing power and a gourmet's taste and goals, such as the search for tradition and uniqueness. To attract this profile, she indicated that the goal is to "relaunch Barcelona" as a gastronomic reference, and recalled the "unique and unrepeatable" moment two decades ago when the city was catapulted "to the world summit of gastronomy", and which is a legacy that is still alive.

Gastronomy arouses interest

The food on offer is already an incentive to visit Barcelona and now it seeks to give it a new promotional boost. Muro explained that for 68% of tourists the second most popular activity is tasting the local dished, 65% of visitors' spending is on eating and drinking, and in the past two years 82% of Spanish visitors have come to the city to enjoy themselves. Moreover, those who come motivated by cuisine spend 24% more. "Gastronomy has to be a driving force for Barcelona", Muro stressed, since "it is a very dynamic element of the economy".

For Collboni, "the city can and must offer quality tourism" and, in response to the voices that are once again calling for limits on tourism activity, he said that "the debate is not tourism yes or no, but how to get better tourism or how to attract better tourism to Barcelona". He recalled that in the city there are about 9,000 catering establishments, an "immense" heritage that he considers to be part of the life of the people of Barcelona, but also "about thirty excellent, world-class restaurants, which are a field of extraordinary creativity and are a place to be happy reminiscing smells and flavours", both for Catalans and for visitors from all over the world.

The campaign has received chefs' supports. Jordi Vilà (Alkimia) believes that it shows "a way of doing" that represents local gastronomy, while Oriol Castro (Disfrutar) has celebrated the appearance of three world-class cooks – Adrià, Ruscalleda and Roca – who are still active, and that from that heritage today there are "restaurants of great level". Joseba Cruz (Le Clandestin, in Bages) reflected that "we have to look back to move forward and learn from mistakes", He also referred to the pandemic, which has hit the industry hard.

Now that almost all pandemic restrictions have been lifted and tourism has returned, restaurants are busy again, but the president of Turisme de Barcelona, Eduard Torres, believes that we should not be overconfident. "We have gone from a few moments when we had no work, practically, to many people coming to Barcelona, but we have to see how long this will last," he said. He also promised Turisme de Barcelona's continued support to the hospitality business. On the other hand, Tourism councillor Xavier Marcé explained that new projects could soon be completed with the help of Palma and Valencia to promote gastronomy with the help of European funds.

La Rambla is something else

Barcelona's food offer is not always moved by the excellence this campaign touts, as can be seen on one of the city's main tourist attractions: La Rambla. Alongside tourists, tapas, paellas and sangrias at exorbitant prices and of dubious quality have also returned. Asked about this other side of the city, Collboni believes that it must be held apart. "Everyone understands when I talk about the city's gastronomy, and what it includes and what it doesn't include," said the deputy mayor, who admitted: "On the Ramblas we have a problem." According to Collboni, "it is one of the points where the city has historically suffered the most from the effects of tourist concentration, and we all see images and offers on the Ramblas that we don't like, but things can't be changed overnight". He does not like this image either, and he claims that the campaign will seek to make Barcelona "more consistent with what it is and wants to be," he said.

Where are the women chefs?

Incorporating more women who can be among the top chefs is still on the checklist, at least judging by the photograph taken at the campaign launch. Among the thirty chefs who took part there was only one woman cook, Carlota Claver (La Gormanda)- There was also only one woman among institutional representatives, Marian Muro, from Turisme de Barcelona. After the photo, the cook Ada Parellada (Semproniana) joined the event. Even so, the imbalance between men and women in haute cuisine was more than evident.