Rocío Graves is a food photographer and stylist, slow food and private chef born and raised in Mallorca, Spain - though currently in creative residency in California. We first fell in love with Rocío's eye for beautiful food and ambiance when we visited her idyllic home in Mallorca and are so excited to remain connected with her as her path unfolds around the globe.
Nitsa: You were born in of my favorite places on earth.... Mallorca! Can you describe what that was like - how you were raised - and any specific elements of this environment you cherish deeply?
Rocco: Yes! I was born in the late 80’s in Deia, a small village in the north coast of Mallorca where spectacular mountains, olive groves, donkeys and sheep meet the most breathtaking coastline with deep blue waters, rocks and pine trees. My origins are British and Spanish; my father is the son of poet, historical novelist and classicist Robert Graves --author of 'Goodbye To All That' and 'The White Goddess’ among many others. My mother was born in the heart of Spain, near Madrid into a big family during the time of Franco. She married and moved to Mallorca in the 70’s escaping from the conservative and somewhat controlling upbringing of her parents. She fell in love with the free-spirited community of Deia and decided to set roots in there with my older sister. I was born into an alternative community of seekers, eccentrics, local and foreign artists, of community gatherings where live music and home cooked feasts were always present. My home was in a way a reunion point for our community, my parents often organised open dinners that would end up in late night jam sessions in our living room. Both my parents worked from home (they had a printing press and bookbinding business that they ran from the basement of our home), my father is also a writer and musician. I spent a lot of my time as a child hanging out at band rehearsals and live gigs (we drove a van and I had my own bed in the back where I would sleep on late nights!). I went to a small school of 40 children total. Aside from the standard curriculum we did yoga, papier mâché, cooking, gardening… it was a wonderful experience. What I cherish the most of my childhood was the freedom and safety, it really felt like we were all part of a big family. I spent so much time outdoors, barefoot, climbing trees, in the sea, growing food… and surrounded by such culture diversity. It really was a safe container to grow in.
How did you get HERE now?
Well… I had to get it wrong many times! In December of 2018 I decided to take a leap of faith and move temporarily to Los Angeles (had never been to the US before)! I have a background in organic farming, human rights, I was a professional makeup artist for a few years and more recently became interested in food as medicine and food photography (through starting my own food blog sharing about my health journey healing from an autoimmune hyperthyroid). I am currently in what feels like a time of transition, entering a new phase of life coming out of a divorce and stepping into my power as a woman. Interested in devoting time to exploring my spirituality and the healing arts.
What do you love most about food?
I’m in awe of the sacred and infinite giving quality of seeds. Especially in love with fruit trees, they symbolise true abundance to me. And of course the beauty and diversity in the colors, shapes, smells, tastes and textures of all food grown in nature.
What do you love most about photography?
What I love about photographing food specifically is attempting to showcase its natural breathtaking beauty.
Tell us about these cosy gatherings - how did they begin and what do you envision for the future?
Cosy Gatherings began with the desire and intention to build community. After the life-altering experience of divorce and spending most of two years in a cocoon, grieving and healing, I really had to begin from the ground up. Inspired by my childhood experience of community gatherings around the dinner table, I decided to open my home in Mallorca once a month creating a safe container to host like-minded people for a one day event offering meditation, serving a home cooked plant-based organic feast and live music.
I recently moved out of my home and am no longer in Mallorca, so I’m dreaming up new ways of hosting gatherings when I’m on the move. I’m feeling inspired to offer these gatherings to women specifically with an intention of doing deep inner work in a group setting and in a more collaborative way. Still not 100% clear but excited to see what unfolds!
If you were reincarnate as a type of fruit what would you be?
A mangosteen for sure... or a fig?!
One ingredient in the kitchen you can't cook without and why?
Ohh…. my first thought was good quality sea salt (we have beautiful local sea salt in Mallorca) but I’m going to have to say lemon! Mallorca is known for its abundance of citrus trees (as well as almonds, figs, apricots, loquats… and of course olives!). Most homes have at least one lemon tree in the garden. Using lemon in my cooking is like second nature!
Any unusual/ funny/ disastrous/ experimental chef stories?
My most unusual experience as a private chef was being flown to Reykjavik to cook for musician and dear friend Damien Rice and his team of creative friends for a few weeks. It was a very enriching and beautiful collaborative experience. I was so grateful to be given the opportunity to cook simple nourishing food to support them during the intense and creative process of recording in the studio.
Top five potions:
Currently listening to:
Famous Blue Raincoat - Leonard Cohen
Do you have a regular spiritual practice? How does this apply when traveling?
I do! It’s a practice that really helps me stay in gratitude and surrender. Trusting in a divine plan and knowing that all experiences sent to me have a loving message a their core.
My spiritual practice at the moment looks like carving out time in the morning and/or night to read my favourite spiritual texts, prayer, breathwork, listening to devotional music and meditation. When i’m feeling very emotional/agitated I prefer to dance or get into nature first.
My spiritual practice is especially important when traveling as I can tend to feel ungrounded, fall into fear and am easily affected by other people’s energies. I don’t always make it a priority though, and I try my best to be kind to myself when this happens and just get back into it.
Non-negotiable self-care ritual?
Sesame oil self-massage a few times a week + hot/cold shower in the morning and time in solitude.
Vulnerability point? triggers?
I often have a hard time staying present in my body, I tend to be quite floaty. Having to consciously bring my energy back into my body. And having a love/hate relationship with the material world. At times wanting to renunciate and go live in an Ashram. Real talk.
What are you most excited about right now?
I find so much excitement in the current openness and possibility in my life, in the allowance of letting life happen and surprise me.
Top three priorities (or goals) for 2019.
I’m not one to set specific long term goals, but feeling into my priorities…
- To devote myself to my spiritual practice
- To dive into a deeper understanding of my individuality away from my family and roots
- To prioritize pleasure and joy (I have Venus conjunct Saturn which makes it challenging for me to just enjoy life, I can be very serious and responsible) in the form of more dancing, enjoying live music (and playing myself!), more time in community gatherings (around the table whenever possible)
Favorite meal you have made?
I would have to say my homemade cultured yogurts. My favourite is cashew and macadamia nut. I culture them overnight and use them to make dressings (simply adding lemon juice, garlic and salt —sometimes herbs like dill), desserts, or plain with a drizzle of raw honey and berries.
Favorite meal someone has made for you?
As a kid, our Japanese family friend Mitsuko would make us the most beautiful traditional Japanese feasts. I was obsessed with the yellow pickled radish (takuan).
Can you say something romantic or sexy in Spanish for us? (or if more comfortable just a favorite quote in Spanish)
an excerpt of Garcia Lorca’s poem ‘La casada infiel’
(…) en las últimas esquinas
toqué sus pechos dormidos,
y se me abrieron de pronto
como ramos de jacintos. (…)