Clara Cros Lacal grew up in the kitchen, while consolidating the family business that her parents, Nati Lacal and Silvestre Cros, started in 1989, in the premises of an old apothecary located in the heart of Cariñena: La Rebotica. Right away, she and her sister, Clara, had to lend a hand: “I started drying glasses and running errands when I was a teenager, but when they asked me to go out into the living room and I didn’t want to, they sent me to the kitchen”.
Without knowing it, in those first forays into the kitchen, alongside her mother, she was laying the foundations of a brilliant professional career that has led her to obtain recognition for her establishment, such as the ‘Bib Gourmand‘ from Michelin or the ‘Award for the best family restaurant’ that the Aragonese Academy of Gastronomy awarded her last September.
Having discovered her vocation, she directed her studies towards the professional kitchen, studying the middle grade of cooking in Miralbueno and combining her academic training with practice, at the head of the kitchen of the Calatayud Golf Course, then managed by the team of La Rebotica. Later, when she finished her higher degree, she did her internship at home, because, as she says, “it was necessary and I stayed there”. Since the age of 21, Clara has been the head chef at La Rebotica.
Although, unlike her mother -a self-taught cook- Clara received academic training, she confesses that her greatest influence, both in the way she cooks and in the way she manages her business, has been Nati Lacal. From her she inherited the love for proximity -of the product and in the treatment of the customer-; but also her committed and vindictive spirit, which leads her to get involved in sectorial associations such as the Association of Chefs of Aragon and Horeca and in causes such as the sustainable defense of the territory or the visibility of women in professional kitchens.
Clara, as her parents did, until she took the reins of La Rebotica in 2010, continues to defend, from her small and cozy restaurant, a cuisine closely linked to the territory, both for the use of kilometer 0 ingredients, and for the preparation of recipes that, although updated, are strongly rooted in the Aragonese tradition, such as her chicken with chilindrón or the “stews” that she likes to cook over low heat. Also still on the menu, “now more reduced, but made with more care and detail”, are dishes of his own creation that La Rebotica turned into new classics, such as the black pudding lasagna made popular by Nati Lacal.
The predilection for local produce, both for its organoleptic qualities and for the environmental and social sustainability implied by its use, continues to guide its culinary steps. And among these foods of differentiated quality, being where it is, logically, wine from the Cariñena PDO occupies a prominent place: “wine is present as an ingredient in many dishes and, always, in the pairing”. When it comes to wine, Clara is self-taught, she is training herself day by day, “learning from many professionals from the wineries who often come to eat at my house” and now, as her father used to do, she even allows herself to discover great wines to clients who are new to the wine world, “and for me, surprising a wine geek is the best”, she admits with a laugh.
With the second generation at the helm, La Rebotica continues to write its history with consistency and reaffirming principles that, at the beginning, may have seemed utopian and that today are widely accepted and applauded: the defense of a cuisine of the territory, in the territory, offered in an increasingly close and familiar atmosphere.
While, until 2010, Clara shared the kitchen with her mother and mentor, today she does so with her wife, Miriam. The small team – in which, Clara admits, “if one doesn’t pull, the other pulls” – is completed by Begoña, who has been working in the house for more than 30 years, and Coti, who started as a scrubber and now runs the kitchen. Clara also often comes out of the kitchen, to talk and share with the customers: “I like them to feel comfortable, relaxed, at home,” she says.
Download the recipe here