` Carme Ruscalleda Can't Imagine Cooking Without Olive Oil

Fairs, Competitions

Carme Ruscalleda Can't Imagine Cooking Without Olive Oil

May. 5, 2011
By Julie Butler

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The only female chef in the world to earn six Miche­lin stars, Carme Rus­calleda was in the spot­light this week for her pro­mo­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil, win­ning one of four new Cata­lan Olive Oil Denom­i­na­tions of Ori­gin (“DOP”) prizes.

Rec­og­niz­ing out­stand­ing efforts to increase aware­ness and use of EVOO — a key plank of Cata­lan cui­sine — the awards were a joint ini­tia­tive of Cat­alo­ni­a’s 5 DOPs — Siu­rana, Les Gar­rigues, Terra Alta, Baix Ebre-Montsià and Empordà.

The award cer­e­mony in Barcelona saw the prize for research go to Dr. María-Isabel Covas, Head of the Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Risk and Nutri­tion Research Group at the IMIM-Research Insti­tute, Hos­pi­tal del Mar, in Barcelona. Covas won the research prize for her team’s work on the health ben­e­fits of extra vir­gin olive oil, which was piv­otal to the Euro­pean Food Safety Author­ity (EFSA) approval last month for the claim that con­sump­tion of olive oil polyphe­nols con­tributes to the pro­tec­tion of blood lipids from oxida­tive dam­age.”

The Cata­lan Phar­macy Board was awarded the prize for an orga­ni­za­tion, insti­tu­tion or group. They pro­moted a Healthy Break­fasts” cam­paign in pri­mary schools in Tar­rag­ona, which raised aware­ness of the link between nutri­tion and health. The ini­tia­tive encour­aged con­sump­tion of the tra­di­tional home-pre­pared baguette – driz­zled with olive oil – instead of the bak­ery-bought goods that today’s busy par­ents increas­ingly give their chil­dren.

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The late, world-renowned chef Santi San­ta­maria won the prize for pro­mot­ing use of Cata­lan EVOO, related prod­ucts and local pro­duc­ers. He was the owner-founder of one of Spain’s top restau­rants, Can Fabes (three Miche­lin stars), and known for his avant-garde inter­pre­ta­tion of tra­di­tional Cata­lan cui­sine. San­ta­maria died in Sin­ga­pore, in another of his restau­rants, in Feb­ru­ary, and was rep­re­sented yes­ter­day by his son, Pau San­ta­maria, him­self a chef.

Rus­calleda was unable to attend in per­son but wrote some words shared by her son Raül Balam i Rus­calleda, who with his mother heads the restau­rant Moments at Barcelon­a’s Man­darin Ori­en­tal hotel. Rus­calleda said that she could not imag­ine a restau­rant with­out olive oil, it was so inte­gral to food prepa­ra­tion.

The Cata­lan Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock, Fish­eries, Food and the Envi­ron­ment, Josep Maria Pele­grí, said while widely used by them, not enough Cata­lans appre­ci­ated the high qual­ity of locally-pro­duced olive oil, which was actu­ally the best in the world.”

The Post-Awards Tapas:

SIURANA DOP: Cat­alon­ian-style pizza of escali­vada (roasted veg­eta­bles), anchovies and EVOO

LES GARRIGUES: Bruschetta with cherry tomato, vine­gared anchovies, tuna, olives and EVOO

EMPORDÀ: lob­ster tail, potato and EVOO

BAIX EBRE-MONTSIÀ: skew­ers of grilled octo­pus and EVOO

TERRA ALTA: small endive salad cups with orange, cod­fish and EVOO

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