BARCELONA: When they were just eight years old, Spanish twins Sergio and Javier Torres set a goal — they wanted to become chefs who were among the top in their field.
To achieve this, they strategically split up to get training in different esteemed kitchens around the world, published books on cooking and presented a popular TV show.
The plan worked.
Over four decades after they surprised their family by saying they wanted to be chefs, Sergio and Javier’s Barcelona restaurant, Cocina Hermanos Torres, was awarded a third Michelin star last month.
“We developed a plan, that I think is a perfect plan,” a smiling Javier, 51, said at the restaurant, one of only 13 in Spain and Portugal with the top three-star ranking from the prestigious French guide.
“When we started to go out of Barcelona, we thought that Sergio would take one path, I would take another, and we would never coincide until we were ready,” he added. The journey took the twins — who grew up in a working-class Barcelona neighborhood — to different elite restaurants in Spain, Switzerland and France.
Before moving to Paris where he worked with top French chef Alain Ducasse, Sergio spent two years at the award-winning Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier which is also run by twins — Jacques and Laurent Pourcel.
“We were separated but every month we met up in a restaurant, ate well, we spent the little money we had and developed the next steps of our strategy,” said Sergio as he sat beside his brother.
Each brother specialized in different areas — one learned to cook meat and vegetables, the other fish and bread, he added.
Both siblings credit their grandmother for their passion for cooking.
She was part of a wave of people who moved from the southern region of Andalusia to the more industrialized Catalonia in the northeast in search of a better life following Spain’s devastating 1936-39 civil war.
“Our grandmother looked after us, and since she was in the kitchen all day we literally grew up in a kitchen,” said Sergio.
After earning two Michelin stars with their previous project “Dos Cielos” and becoming familiar faces thanks to their participation in a cooking show, they decided to open Cocina Hermanos Torres in 2018.
The twins visited some 200 possible locations before settling on an industrial building near Barcelona’s iconic Camp Nou football stadium.
They invested nearly 3 million euros to convert it into the restaurant, which seats a maximum of 50 people at tables with no wall separating them from the three workstations where staff prepare meals.
“We wanted to reflect what we experienced in our childhood, which was a kitchen and a table, and everyone around the table,” said Javier.