I have always dreamed of eating at El Bulli in Roses on the Costa Brava. Since I learned of the restaurant approximately 6 years ago during mytravels to Spain. This is the restaurant that has been associated with Ferran Adrià since he became the head chef. I, for one, am intrigued bymolecular gastronomy, which many people would associate to Ferran Adrià, but who, he, himself does not care for this term. That said, no oneis able to capture the imagination and attention of the food world the same way as Adría, with his focus on scientific transformations and processes of food. His creations are designed to surprise and enchant his guests but the importance of taste is always the ultimate goal.
Ferran Adrià i Acosta, Catalan Spanish chef, was born on May 14, 1962. During his early years, Ferran took no great interest in food. In fact, his passion was football! He began his culinary career as a dishwasher at the Hotel Palyafels after dropping out of business school. It was at this very hotel that he was introduced to classic cuisine heavily influenced by Escoffier. In 1981, Adría returned to Barcelona where he joined one of the best restaurants, Finisterre, and stayed there until July 1982.
At 19 he was drafted into the military service where he worked as a cook for the admiral. This experience proved to be very valuable as he runs a kitchen for the first time. It is during his military service that he met Fermi Puig, who later suggested to Adría that he complete a work experience placement, or ‘stage’ at El Bulli. Ferran showed much promise and talent and Juli Soler offered him a job as a chef de partie starting the following April.
After he joined El Bulli, the rest, as they say, is history.
Before the arrival of Adría, El Bulli was relatively unknown. Despite its remote location, it has 3 Michelin stars and is ranked the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine.
Adría spends six months out of the year in his Barcelona workshop, creating a menu that is so avant-garde that it’s hard to find anything else like it (unless, of course, a chef is copying Adría —and many are). In September, creative sessions come to a close and ideas for next year’s menu begins.
The more I learn about successful chefs such as Ferran Adrià, I always wonder what makes them tick. What gives them such drive to achieve such creativity? I always find one thing in common. People like Adría, are constantly challenging themselves. He does not have time to pause. His mind is always curious and he never stops looking for new ideas. Adría always says “Let what you like to eat tell you how you should cook.” (Adría, 72). I know I sure like to eat! The basis of this quote comes from Adría’s thinking that chefs should always be better at tasting than they are at cooking.
Adría is best known for his use of foam. This is a technique that consists of aerating ingredients with a siphon which then introduces bubbles which alters the texture of food (a technique which is more common for desserts but which he applied to savoury dishes. The foam usually consists of a more sweet and savoury natural flavour. The mixture is placed in a whipped cream canister where the nitrous oxide helps force out the foam.
At El Bulli, seventy percent of their ingredients come from Spain – Catalunya (mostly), Valencia, Andalucia, Aragon, Galicia, Castilla and other areas as well, About thirty percent of the rest of the ingredients come from other countries – France, Italy, India, Greece, Austria, China, North Africa, Central and South America and a few others.
There definitely are not many Ferran Adría’s out there and he is certainly an inspiration to us all. I hope one day to be able to get myself a reservation at El Bulli. But for now, I will just dream.