“I’d always enjoyed cooking and everything to do with nutrition” “It’s not my way of dressing at all; I just dress comfortably”
“The colourful image I project goes well with desserts” “The recipes on the show are Marc’s. What I do is interpret them”
When Gessamí Caramés was growing up, no one could get her name right. She explains that her parents called her Gessamí because in the hospital where she was born the nuns used a cologne with the fragrance of jasmine. In the interview she talks about her role models, her work in the Lasarte restaurant, and how different cooking on television is.
I heard you wanted to be an actor.
I never took the entrance exams for the Institut del Teatre because they clashed with the university entrance exams. I chose to study audiovisual communication because it was the nearest thing to theatre. But I never had the same feeling for it as my fellows, who bought themselves cameras and who watched lots of films. I had always enjoyed cooking and everything to do with nutrition and diet, and so I signed up for a cookery training course in Cambrils. It was the happiest day of my life. I had such a good time. I learnt lots the first year and wanted to know about everything.
You discovered your vocation.
Yes, truly. I was very lucky. I never expected I’d love it so much.
And then you met Marc Ribas on the Ametlla de Mar edition of the TV cookery contest, ‘Joc de cartes’.
Marc Ribas knew a relation of mine who had a restaurant in the town. He mentioned to him that they were looking for a young woman who made desserts to give the programme a bit of colour and to share the filming with Marc. I was posting my desserts on social media and was well-known in town for my hobby. Marc called me to do an audition. They liked me, and I’ve now been doing it for two years.
Do you feel comfortable dressing up as a pin-up?
It was very exaggerated at the beginning, but we’ve toned it down since then. It’s not my way of dressing at all. I don’t have a defined style in my everyday dress. I just dress comfortably, as that’s how I like it. But it works for the character, for Gessa, and it comes across great on the programme, giving it real colour. When I have to do something as Gessa out in the real world, I tone the make-up down, for example.
In choosing a young woman were they looking for something that would call attention?
It’s a good thing that they should go for the profile of a young woman. It provides a good contrast with Marc’s style, which is why they went for a young woman with a very specific look. My physique made them think that the pin-up style would look good.
Cakemaking has that sort of aesthetic.
That’s right, the colourful image I project goes well with desserts.
You work in Martín Berasategui’s Lasarte restaurant in Barcelona. Do you make desserts there?
We change tasks depending on what is required and the learning interests of each person. I’ve done a lot of different things there. Right now I’m baking bread, brioche pastries, and so on.
What do you like cooking the most?
I have a lot of fun with pastries. I like thick pastries, like brioche, and when they are well made they are very beautiful. I also like cakemaking. You know when you are on to something, when the flavours come together in your mind. You think of one ingredient and that brings to mind another two that you know will go well together. I’ve also worked on meat, which in Lasarte is spectacular.
Are the recipes you do your own?
They are Marc’s. What I do is interpret them. Yet I always say that the real cook is Anna Brotons; she’s ready for anything. For example, if a meringue needs to spend half an hour in the oven, she already has it done. And if anything goes wrong on set, which sometimes happens, because the spotlights make a lot of heat, for example, she is always there to save the day.
You do theatre with cookery.
Cooking needs its own time to do, and so does filming. And when they don’t coincide, you need to have a plan B, which means double preparation. Something that takes three seconds to film might in reality take 10 minutes to do. Heating things up is quick, but if you have to let things cool down it takes a lot longer, and so it has to be chilled the day before.
Who are your role models?
French cakemakers. Philippe Conticini is one, who is a master of flavours. And I really like what Claire Heitzler does. And Jordi Roca cannot be matched for creativity.
Should we be better educated in cookery. Have we lost a lot of the cooking of the past?
Everyone knows what’s good and what isn’t in cookery. I can make some biscuits at home that imitate those of a brand and they won’t come out with the same flavour, but my grandmother might taste them and think they are much better. My palate was made for commercially made food, but there is an evolution over the years. I used to love industrially made chocolates and now I find them fatty. I no longer enjoy them as I do quality chocolate.