‘World’s best pastry chef’ scoops up prime Uptown space for new gelato shop


By Eric Sandler, CultureMap Houston

One of the world’s best pastry chefs is bringing his whimsical dessert shop to Houston. Chef Jordi Roca and his wife, chef Alejandra Rivas, will open Rocambolesc in Uptown Park in late April.

Founded in 2012, Rocambolesc provides a more affordable outlet for desserts created by Roca, one of three brothers who operates El Celler de Can Roca, a three-star Michelin restaurant in Girona, Spain that was once named the best restaurant in the world. Jordi Roca’s creative desserts have drawn wide acclaim, including being named the world’s best pastry chef in 2014 and being profiled in Netflix’s Chef Table documentary series.

Houstonians may recall that the Roca brothers came to the city in 2014 for a three-night dinner pop-up that showcased their award-winning cuisine, which makes the decision to open Rocambolesc’s first U.S. location here seem slightly less improbable. Facilitating the opening is a partnership that unites the Roca brothers with chef Luis Roger and local businessman Ignacio Torras, the duo behind acclaimed Houston restaurants MAD and BCN. Working together, they secured a space for Rocambolesc in Uptown Park near Hugo Ortega’s street food restaurant Urbe and Songkran Thai Kitchen.

Rocambolesc will offer soft serve gelato in flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, and oven-baked apple, as well as soft serve sorbets such as strawberry or coconut and violet (the purple flower). They can be topped with add-ons such as chocolate cake, colored stars, or the chefs’ take on pop rocks.

In addition, it will offer creative popsicles such as a finger-shaped bar of chocolate, olive oil, and salt and Roca’s signature nose-shaped bar of strawberry and rose water. The shop will also sell gelato to-go in pre-packaged 500-mL containers as well as chocolate bars, truffles, and candies.

Established as a public benefit corporation, Rocambolesc has a social mission as well as a business purpose. It will provide job opportunities to adults with neurological differences through a partnership with local non-profit The Center for Pursuit.

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