The twins, Javier and Sergio Torres, are two of the most popular chefs in Spain, thanks to years of television success. In March 2019, they concluded Torres en la cocina, a programme that was transmitted for four seasons by the TVE network. "Thanks to our experience with TV," they explained, "we learnt to communicate, we got to know food products and producers from all over Spain, and when we were in front of the cameras, we learnt how important lighting is for dishes."
They did not leave what they learnt in the TV studio either, as light also plays a central role in the Cocina Hermanos Torres
, the restaurant the two brothers opened a few months ago in the Les Corts district of Barcelona. Here, Carlos and Borja Ferrater’s OAB Studio
project has transformed a former 800 m² industrial warehouse into a space that offers a new experience for both chefs and customers.
A look inside the Cocina Hermanos Torres (video by the OAB studio)
How would you describe the Cocina Hermanos Torres to someone who has only seen it in a photo? What particular features would you focus on?
We think the most important feature is the lighting. What surprises people when they visit the Cocina Torres, is the fact that the light changes constantly throughout the day. Inside there is artificial iGuzzini lighting, while outside there is natural sunlight. The fact that the light changes creates a surprise effect, which is not something you can see from the photographs.
So, Cocina Torres is special because it is not “a restaurant with a kitchen” but “a kitchen with a restaurant” as the kitchen is at the centre of the environment. This idea stems from our childhood memories of being in the kitchen with our grandmother cooking at the stove. We wanted to transmit a concept of traditional, domestic cooking with a modern, hi-tech 21st century kitchen. We believe our restaurant is unique.
When you talk about the Cocina Torres you often use theatrical metaphors, like when you refer to the kitchen and restaurant as stages. What do you mean?
In the central kitchen there are 15 to 20 chefs. They work in full view of the guests and cook in a way that is both organised and disciplined, but also natural. So, every table becomes a small, well-lit island, where you can eat and talk with the people near you. And if you look around, what you see is a theatrical show starring the chefs, the waiters and the customers themselves. Thanks to artificial lighting, we have succeeded in creating an environment that is both a stage and a cosy domestic space.
How far were you involved in the design and how much did you leave to the architects?
We asked the architect for a sheet of paper and we drew a plan of the kitchen, or kitchens, on it. The architect helped us create this idea of a theatre with a large central space, through the lighting too. The end result is very true to the philosophy we put forward.
Is it true that the lighting is located mainly in the food preparation area?
The restaurant has many types of lighting that are different for each space, from the bathrooms to the kitchens. Given that we have 12 kitchens, some in the centre of the restaurant and others at the side, they were all designed individually. Instead, with the tables, we wanted to enhance this sense of theatre, so each of them has its own light point that illuminates only the table top, so no glare is created, which is extremely important. Following the same principle, the kitchen lighting features a central spotlight that creates a bubble of light that illuminates all the space around it. The light is subtle and warm, but there are also luminaires located directly in the extractor hoods to ensure the chefs can see properly.
Could you give us a general idea of what the main lighting requirements are for a restaurant?
Every restaurant has its own lighting system and character. When we go to other restaurants, we pay a lot of attention to the lighting. Some, especially in the kitchens, use a bright white light that is a bit like a hospital. But we prefer warm light, not only for customers but also for the people who are working. Because it transmits a sense of calm and is more beautiful, and we think, more interesting. Remember that light influences people. Every kitchen also features up-down light strips that are perfect for the people who are cooking.
But we prefer warm light, not only
for customers but also for the people who are working. Because it transmits a sense
of calm and is more beautiful, and we think, more interesting.
Would you like to illuminate every dish on the customer’s table with a different light?
Yes, we would love to. In fact, we are working on that right now. We don’t want to illuminate every dish, just a few of the most important ones. We are currently testing this, and, once again, we have opted for warm lighting.
How did you come to be on TV? And after Torres en la cocina have you got any other projects?
We never thought we’d be on television. A few years ago, we did a TV ad for a beer and one of the producers liked our image and suggested making a programme. With Cocinando we toured Spain’s towns and cities, for three seasons. Then we made Torres en la cocina for four years, until it ended just a few months ago. We already have an idea for a new, future TV project but, at the moment, we’re focusing on the Cocina Hermanos Torres. We want to make it one of the best restaurants in the world.