ask Joel about
cocktail bars • street food • gluten free • vegan • mexican food • asian food • nightclubs
a bit about Joel
What do you do and why do you do it?
I work in food - but not just cooking it! Creating communities around food, food technology, food trends, food arts, food writing... I like to spend just as much time in the kitchen as out of it and my business card simply reads 'Chef Hunter'.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why was it so effing bad?
I got my first job at 13 picking tomatoes on a small farm in Tasmania. It sounds romantic enough but the reality was sweating through tropical temperatures as I stared into bushes of green to spot that elusive red tomato. It was character building...
Were you born and raised in Barcelona? If not, where did you grow up and what brought you to Barcelona?
I was born in New Zealand, grew up in Tasmania, then worked as an economist in Melbourne. But I quickly realised I was more suited to working with a sharp knife than with a screen full of numbers. Barcelona (which is where my grandmother is from) was calling so I moved here under the guise of studying a Masters but spent most of my time immersing myself in Barcelona's intoxicating food scene. And let's just say food is one of the main reasons I'll call Barcelona home for a long time to come.
What’s your current hood in Barcelona and what’s the best/worst thing about it?
I live in El Born which is close enough to the centre without being smack bang on the tourist bus route. I can walk to the beach in 15 minutes, cycle to the mountains in 30 minutes and eat tapas and drink cocktails like a hedonist at any number of bars within a 100m radius. The worst thing about the neighbourhood is people like me, foreigners that have realised how good life is here and making it harder and harder to find the local authenticity that makes this city such a gem. I've lived all over the city but Born is my kind of hood.
What kind of music do you listen to and what kind of music do you absolutely HATE?
My first CD was Exit Planet Dust by Chemical Brothers and electronic music has been my beat ever since. DJs like Nicolar Jaar, Bonobo, Daft Punk, Max Cooper, Fatboy Slim, Maceo Plex and more have been my soundtrack for the many years. Hate...country music.
You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?
I remember being ghosted by a girl at high school and somehow found myself listening to Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus. The 90s were great for heartbreaks with bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day...
Name the best TV shows of all time, and what makes them so good?
Peep Show (the best of dark dark British humor), Curb Your Enthusiasm (by the god of sarcasm Larry David), Breaking Bad (the first time I've forgotten to eat because I was so immersed in a series).
Name some spots in Barcelona that are good for a Tinder date.
For someone that cooks, if I can get the girl around my table I'm in good shape ;-) But Barcelona is made for dating - restaurants like Clubhaus or lookouts like Bunkers del Carmel are amazing spots!
Which public figure would you want to see “roasted”? (every public figure is fair game).
I love Jamie Oliver, but he's committed a few cardinal sins against Spanish cuisine and deserves some 'heat' ;) Those that would do the roasting would include Anthony Bourdain, José Andrés and Gordon Ramsay.
Who’s your hero and where in Barcelona would you take them out for a serious hang?
Hunter S. Thompson was a gonzo in every aspect of life and an obvious hero. Hunter would join me fishing at 4AM, a breakfast of huevos rotos at La Boqueria, a walk through Gracia followed by a vermut in Plaza del Sol. Lunch is paella (clichés exist for a reason) and some of the best are by the beach. We'll chill in the afternoon on the roof of Yurbban Hotel before a gritty walk through Raval (which for many here is the real Barcelona) followed by a increasing spiral of tapas and cocktails until the night gets the better of us.
Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?
Basics from Asos and vintage cycling gear from local flea markets.
What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?
I've never been to the port area of Barcelona. The entire complex of restaurants and attractions was built for tourists and this is the place to be if you ever want to feel like a foreigner in your own city.
What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?
Take photos of the simply mind-blowing beauty you find on every corner of this city. I take photos when I go traveling but at home, never give myself time to simply scroll, look up and shoot.
Where do you go in Barcelona for a casual night out?
There are some beautiful plazas around El Born that are made for relaxing, eating some amazing food (Clubhaus, Red Ant, Costa Pacifico, Nakashita, Bar Brutal to name a few) then moving onto cocktails in my favourite Jungle Room or Creps.
Where would you go in Barcelona to celebrate some freaking good news?
I take them to one of my favourite underground supper clubs. It's my favourite because no-one knows about it. So you better hope you are celebrating some good news with me ;-)
What’s your choice of transportation in Barcelona and why?
My fixie. This city is made for bikes and I am made for riding!
What are the Barcelona spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?
Sagrada Familia, La Boqueria (before 10am), a stroll along Barceloneta's marina and the view from either Parc Güell, Bunkers del Carmel or Mount Tibidabo.
What are the Barcelona spots tourists should run from screaming?
Lunch on La Rambla or any club featured on a flyer handed out throughout the city.
Tomorrow’s your last day in Barcelona. How do you spend it?
In the mountains in the morning, by the beach in the afternoon and on the rooftops at night. But if I had to choose one spot, it would be on my terrace with baby clams, grilled sardines, razor clams, mojama cured tuna, tomato bread with olive oil and icy cava.
What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?
New Zealand. I'm drawn back here because it is so far from everywhere else and remains one of the most virgin countries on earth. From the north to the south you have these amazing contrasts between cities, mountains, lakes, forests and beaches and an authenticity that you can feel at every interaction with the locals, their food and their culture.