Journalist, spreker, nieuwsgierige wandelaar, met een passie voor mensen en voor mijn kleine land
Enric Herce, the chef who rides a Harley. We discover the other passion of the man who is head chef at the Cala del Pi Hotel’s Aurum restaurant in Castell-Platja d'Aro
Enric Herce was born in the centre of Sant Feliu de Guíxols, in Baix Empordà, growing up in an old house with an elegant façade, which he shared with his sister and parents, both of whom were cooking enthusiasts. “My father was a great chef,” says Enric Herce, “he started out as an apprentice at the old Hotel Les Noies in Sant Feliu and went on to open lots of hotels.” His mother was also very skilled in the kitchen and worked at various local restaurants although he admits that when it came to whipping up a delicious fish stew or mind-blowing zarzuela at home, that was his father’s territory. He confesses that he would have liked to be a journalist, or even maybe a writer, but knows that, with his family heritage, he was always destined to be involved with food.
And it was from peeling potatoes and stirring pots that he earned the money he needed to buy his first motorcycle at the age of 14. Bikes were nothing new to him, as his father had always had one for nipping here and there. In fact, Enric had even been given a toy version when he was only four or five years old, “it was a metal Vespa with a small electric motor.” “The first real motorcycle” would come ten years later, purchased with the money he had saved while working in the kitchen of the same hotel where his father had started his career, Les Noies. “It was a red Derbi Diablo – beautiful, a great starter bike.” Many more would follow, “24 or 25,” he says, counting under his breath. Trial bikes, motocross bikes, enduro bikes, road bikes. The last two, from the legendary Harley Davidson stable.
When he’s not busy working in the kitchen, the chef spends his time clocking up the kilometres on his Harley, snapping photos of his travels, which, as an active Instagrammer, he then posts online. When asked if he has a particular favourite route, he quickly replies that he loves the unique and beautiful windy roads around Tamariu, Llafranc and Calella de Palafrugell. He also recommends riding through the fascinating lunar-like landscape on the way to Cala Montjoi, or taking the Coll de la Ganga road that heads through the Gavarres mountains, linking Bisbal d’Empordà with Calonge. This is the perfect way to leave everything behind and enter a world of fairy tales, enveloped in cork oaks. It’s a road that Herce has driven many times having worked in his uncle’s cheese factory in Corçà as a young lad, when it was the best way to avoid the traffic on his way home to Santa Cristina d’Aro.
He is a born storyteller and, as we listen to him talk about his life, it is easy to imagine him astride his motorbike, fully kitted out in leather jacket, boots and helmet, focused and ready for action. He would have liked to have joined a group to hit the road with other like-minded enthusiasts but that’s something the demands of his job won’t permit; there are no such things as weekends for restauranteurs. Although, in truth, it suits him just fine as, deep down, he believes that, “travelling by motorbike is a solitary pleasure”. He has an inspirational and poetic soul. His Instagram account reads, “An afternoon of crows and sheep. We went out to chase the spring wherever it was.” And his social media musings are not the only thing he writes: whenever he can, he nurtures that talent that would have allowed him to become a journalist or writer and publishes a book, into which he decants his reflections, descriptions, experiences and recipes. His most recent title is called, Deliciós mar. Receptes i històries de la Mediterrània (Cossetània Edicions, 2023). There’s a copy here on the table, but that’s a pleasure that we’ll keep until this evening. Right now, the open road is calling!