In conversation with Raül Balam
We had a delight speaking with top chef Raül Balam of Moments Barcelona which is located at Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the heart of Barcelona.
What was the vision behind Moments?
Our vision is to respect the nature and the product provided by our environment.
You are well known for you themes. What is your process like when developing a theme? Where do you find inspiration for these themes? Can you take us through your creative process in developing a theme?
First, we look for the storyline of the menu, we inform ourselves in books, internet and press. From there we start brainstorming different ideas and search the gastronomy in the picked theme. We are about to launch our new tasting menu, that it is going to be called “Wonders of the World”: trough the 7 wonders of the ancient world and the 7 wonders of the modern world we have searched the gastronomy behind it while explaining some history. It has been fun.
Was it always a dream to own/start a restaurant together with your mom?
The truth is that this is where life has brought me, but it's the best thing that could have happened to me.
How is it to work together with your mom? Are the tasks divided or do you complement each other well? Do you feel like working together stimulates the creative process of coming up with new dishes?
We complement each other really well. Working with her is fantastic. I know that I am envied by many people in the gastronomy world because not everyone can enjoy working with a living myth of the gastronomy world. My mother is very wise and all her wisdom is a treasure, so I am very lucky to to be able to enjoy it.
Is there something in the gastronomy world you are looking to explore or learn about?
What interests me most but also worries me is to be responsible to protect our gastronomic environment. In both historical and sustainability issues, we must preserve our environment of small producers, farmers, fishers… because if not we don’t take care of it now it will be lost forever.
What are your goals for Moments for the next 5 years?
For Moments to become a reference gastronomic restaurant in the world.
What advice would you give to young chefs or entrepreneurs/creatives on being successful?
I would say to believe in them, to listen and to work hard. No one gives anything for free and each one of us makes their own path.
What has been your favourite theme to create and why?
This is like asking a father what his favorite child is. It is difficult, but all of our clients remember the menu “Inspired by the seventh art”. People felt very represented by it and each film was perfectly recognizable through the dishes.
How do you see the future of gastronomy?
I think it will be brilliant, because there is a global interest. But I am also aware that it will change the way we go to restaurants and the business model. In fact, I think the change has already begun.
What does freedom mean to you?
Freedom to feel at peace with yourself. You have to feel free even if sometimes they want to cut off your wings.
What are some of your favorite ingredients and why?
I think we would go faster asking which are my least preferred ingredients. I am a big lover of spicy. I love KARASHI – a Japanese mustard with an intense and elegant spice that ends within seconds and lets you enjoy food without masking its flavour.
Timotej Letonja & Claudia Roerdink