Her name is known beyond the shores of her native Mallorca: in 2014, aged 27, Marta Rosselló competed in Antena 3 TV’s ‘Top Chef’. Her competitive streak had already been aired in two Spanish competitions for young chefs – one of which she won (in 2005).
The pretty petite brunette – who had always wanted to be a chef – opened Sal de Cocó when she was just 20. Her strong connections to the sea include a love of fishing (though there’s little time for it these days). Her grandfather – once in charge of the port – introduced her to ‘sal de cocó’, salt derived from water captured by holes in rocks washed by the sea.
In March 2015 Marta relocated her seasonal restaurant to the port, adjacent to what was once her grandfather’s home (a perk of his job). No wonder this chef cooks from the heart: childhood memories were formed next door, and her husband and her father work front of house in the white-painted former ‘cantina’.
The glass-fronted building offers authentic port views, and a cheerful fresh interior with white wooden tables and chairs (with pops of colour in the fabric seat pads and backs), wooden floors, and attractive lighting. A large window gives a glimpse into a well-lit modern kitchen that gleams. Marta told ‘Top Chef’ that she was “quite manic about cleanliness”.
Original art is part of an admirable collaborative initiative involving local artists and poets, winery José L Ferrer (which produces the new-for-this-year Sal de Cocó house wines), and Marta herself. Each month she creates dishes to complement the changing art display. An example: the original sea urchin painting near our table was the label picture for the Sal de Cocó chardonnay; sea urchin featured in a pasta starter on the seasonal menu. Postcards of the paintings also bear an appropriate poem.
For dinner, we recommend the ‘menú degustación’ or three-course seasonal menu. Both change monthly, and offer fine Mediterranean market cuisine. As expected in a place of this calibre, bread is home-made (we had three types, including one with seaweed), accompanied by home-made butters, olive oil, and olives.
We had the tasting menu: 14 small, exquisitely presented and flavorful culinary creations, each one explained by Marta as it was served. It’s not just the cuisine that’s creative: an interesting array of serving plates is used. Service is efficient and friendly.
In a brochure about the new Vins Sal de Cocó (a good choice of other Mallorcan wines is also offered), Calonge-based writer and poet Pau Vadell i Vallbona describes Marta as a gastronomic alchemist. We couldn’t put it any better, Pau!