More than going into the kitchen out of vocation, Jo Baixas did it out of pure stage fright after having served refreshments behind a bar in a central Barcelona establishment and seeing that being in front of the public was not her thing. What that boy unable to pick up the bar phone out of shame did not imagine is that he had inherited the grace to cook from his maternal grandmother, iaia Pepeta. When the family opened the Balancí, first as a bar, 40 years ago, the woman would end up preparing those succulent dishes that she cooked for the staff, also for a clientele that as it grew and grew, forced them to gain square meters to expand the space.
Jo Baixas was going to be an architect but the day that, already working, he arrived a minute late at the University and they did not accept the work he had to deliver, he decided to stay with that other job, that of cook, with which he had already fallen passionately in love. . El Balancí no longer exists, although the anniversary of that business in which the family turned after having dedicated their entire lives to construction and which was an unprecedented success, coincides with the 20th anniversary of the spectacular Follia (La Creu d'en Muntaner, 17). There is no written evidence of the number of creations that Jo Baixas came to take out of the Balancí kitchen, where he says that some customers challenged him (a whole cow's head, a brioche stuffed with foie gras...), "They lengthened the meal to be able to stay for dinner"...
These are recipes that remain intact in his memory, such as his grandmother's and mother's devotion to cooking, his admiration for Francesc Baixas, his father's twin and genius of the sweet world, or his friendship with Jaume Llopart, a bricklayer who always worked for the family. Some of the Balancí dishes will appear on the next Follia menu, to celebrate these two and four decades of business.
Jo Baixas, who was one of the members of the Joves Amants de la Cuina collective, which has been remembered in recent times as a result of the publication of Marc Casanovas' book on the figure of Àlex Montiel. A group that for this chef whose passion for architecture led him to build a beautiful restaurant, has become overvalued, like certain kitchens: "I used to tell my friends back then: by wanting to cook well so much we have forgotten how to cook tasty".
The shyness of this great chef has been highlighted so often that his courageous creative cuisine has not been praised as it deserves. What dishes will Follia recover soon from the years of the late Balancí, in Bon Viatge street, whose space is now occupied by some houses? “From the caipirinha with avocado to the oyster-based cocktail with vermouth; marinated sardines; the crunchy prawn with young garlic that was eaten even the skewer with which they were held or the snail snail, a galet stuffed with snails...”. Baixas has sometimes been provocative and misunderstood, such as when he presented the chocolate with black sausage churros or the menu upside down, making diners feel like they were taking sweet bites into their mouths that were actually salty. He provoked with the oyster-stuffed rooster combs, surprised with the vegetables with squid, served with a black puff pastry that covered the deep plate, like the shell of a turtle...
Baixas has been pending from the beginning to make a sustainable kitchen. A kitchen that Rafa Peña and a Swedish friend of his went through (what times those were!) and in which he works today with very little help. With the parenthesis in which his daughter Fran occupied the space of the Follia de Pot, where she cooks more informally, there the chef returns to serve his dishes. He also makes his own wine, his beer or excellent bread.
In summer, customers can also eat the Follia tasting menu in the orchard next to the restaurant and also the Follia de Pot on the terrace closest to the dining room.