Meet Ferran Adria & Enter Our elBulli-Inspired Dinner Giveaway!

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Q&A with Ferran Adria & a Peek at the New elBulli Cookbook!

Ferran Adria is widely recognized as the greatest chef in the world. He led Spain’s legendary elBulli restaurant to earn three Michelin stars and win the title of the World’s Best Restaurant a record five times, before shuttering elBulli in 2011. Now, he’s transforming the space into the elBullifoundation, a think tank for unprecedented culinary creativity.

 

Ferran’s new seven-volume book elBulli 2005-2011 chronicles the final years of the restaurant, offering a glimpse into the inner workings of the famously innovative kitchen. With more than 750 recipes and detailed explanations of techniques, finishing and presentation, it’s a must-have for lovers of modern gastronomy. That’s why we jumped at the opportunity to help Ferran celebrate the release of the cookbook with a book signing in Chicago and a private dinner giveaway inspired by elBulli- 2005-2011 — scroll to the bottom of this post for details on both! Finally, we were thrilled and honored to talk to the chef all about his new book and upcoming plans for the elBullifoundation in this exclusive interview for Taste. Read on!

 

When did you know you wanted to be a chef? 

I started in the kitchen by accident. At 17, I went to wash dishes in a hotel in Castelldefels to earn money to pay for a trip to Ibiza. My intention wasn’t to be a cook, but just to go on vacation. But there, the chef (who was Miquel Moy), aroused my interest in cooking. I saw it was a wonderful discipline, and I soon realized that I wanted to dedicate my life to it.

 

Q&A with Ferran Adria & a Peek at the New elBulli Cookbook!You joined elBulli in 1984 and quickly rose to head chef. To what do you credit your success? 

It was a series of events that contributed to my promotion. However, why me and not another? I guess because from the day I stepped into elBulli, I strove to learn and be better every day professionally, showing that I had the qualities to fill the position of head chef. [ElBulli founders] Mr. and Mrs. Schilling and [Restaurant Manager] Juli Soler realized my professional potential and bet on me.

 

You’ve described your food as deconstructivist rather than molecular gastronomy. What’s the distinction, and why is it important to you?

I also haven’t really described it as deconstructivist. One of the terms that I like to define our cuisine as is techno-emotional. I don’t like the term molecular because cuisine is cuisine, not science. What we have is a dialogue with science to learn and find solutions to problems. To know the why of things. But those who cook are cooks, not scientists.

 

ElBulli closed in 2011, so this is the last book to come out of the restaurant. How would you describe the evolution of the food/menu?

ElBulli as a restaurant has had a long walk and history. From the beginning — more than 50 years before the last year, 2011, when we closed — elBulli experienced a lot of very important moments. We could say that the great revolution of elBulli’s cuisine emerged in the ’90s, when we definitively committed ourselves to pursuing creativity and to elBulli becoming an atypical restaurant, where the main goal was creativity. The menu evolution went parallel to our intention to explore the limits of the kitchen, trying to find our own limits. At the end, the last restaurant menu consisted of 45 different passes (dishes); however, when I started my career at elBulli the meal usually consisted of, at most, five passes. The change was gradual and natural, but if we look with some perspective at all of the years, we realize the extent of the evolution we experienced.

 

Tell us about the recipes in the book. What is a successful dish to you?

In the book you will find all the recipes we made between 2005 and 2011. In total, there are over 700! All of them are important. Naturally, there are some that have had more prominence, but each brought something to our kitchen and therefore was worthy of being part of the catalog.

 

The importance of the book is that, apart from containing the recipes, the reader will understand the why of each of them and what they contributed to our kitchen. You will know our kitchen at the level of creative thinking, which, ultimately, is what matters.

 

Can you describe your creative process for developing a dish?

Well, explaining the creative process is a lengthy task. We would need hours and many papers to be able to explain it correctly.

 

The creative process consists of some methods. Of these, it may be that in the creative process a plate uses just one or many at once. The creation of one plate can be very different from another; there is no general rule or methodology.

 

What achievement are you most proud of from the final years of elBulli? Any specific discoveries?

There are several, but the spherification technique, the air, and the different applications from the obulato [a tasteless edible film] are the techniques that are the best and most successfully reproduced by some of our colleagues.

 

Are there any dishes you tried that didn’t work? 

Lots of them. More than the number of recipes in the catalog.

 

What was your reaction to being called the best chef in the world? 

Happiness, not only for me, but also for all the people who supported us and believed in us and helped us to get as far as we did.

 

Why did you decide to close the restaurant? 

I did not close it. I have transformed it into the elBulliFoundation.

 

During the whole life of the restaurant we were looking for ways to avoid falling into monotony and to encourage creativity. Close six months, do just one service a day, the creation of elBulli Taller [workshop], etc… We needed another transformation to continue cultivating creativity, so that’s why we decided to radically transform into the elBulliFoundation, with the aim of ensuring that creativity can be built and developed in an idyllic setting with all the necessary resources.

 

Tell us more about the elBulliFoundation. What are your hopes for the new center?

In the place where elBulli the restaurant was will be the epicenter of two of the three projects that the elBulliFoundation consists of. It will be elBulli1846 and elBulli DNA.

 

ElBulli1846 will be the exhibition center where we preserve the legacy of elBulli and explain its history, linked to the history of cooking, to anyone who wants to visit us.

 

ElBulliDNA will be the creative team who will work daily in Cala Montjoi facilities, in the same place where elBulli1846 is located. All the work generated will be available on the Internet daily.

 

Are you working on any other projects now?

We are working on the two projects outlined above, and the third project is the Bullipedia, where we are decoding the physical and creative culinary processes, and classifying and ordering all the other high Western cuisine, making it available in a digital format.

 

What are your favorite ingredients to work with? 

Freedom, passion, effort and risk.

 

What developments are you most excited about in the culinary world today?

The speed with which information circulates and the synergies between the different countries and cultures.

 

You’ve pioneered a new movement of food as art. How do you make cuisine into theater and experience, and what makes it unique?

I’m a cook (chef) and I consider myself a cook (chef). There are experts in the art world who believe that our work can be considered as such. It won’t be me who places that value on it. Having said that, what is certain is that the goal of our cuisine is not to feed people, but to provoke emotions in them.

 

How have you seen the role of chefs in popular culture change over the past decade? Do you feel any additional responsibilities from when you first started out?

Now, chefs enjoy prestige among the population — this did not happen before. Of course we have responsibility. Our industry is a basis for the people’s welfare: we are what we eat, and chefs have a responsibility to try to bring our knowledge to society and help people eat in a better way around the world. When I say to eat better, it doesn’t mean to cook in a more attractive and nutritious way, but also to raise awareness that global food resources must be managed well. Never forget that we are in 2014 and there are still children in many countries who die of hunger.

 

How do you stay inspired in the kitchen?

I do nothing special; it is just my passion. I do it as a vital necessity, not as an obligation.

 

What’s the most important tool to have in the kitchen?

For me, a pen and paper. This way I can always take notes of my ideas and not forget them.

 

What do you eat when you’re alone?

It depends on where I am and what I feel like at the time. Except peppers, I like everything.

 

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?

I don’t know, if I  had not been a cook I would have loved to be a professional footballer. My idol, when I was a kid, was Johan Cruyff…

 

Two Caviars Recipe

Here’s a sneak peek at a recipe from the new book!

 

Two Caviars

 

Year: 2008

Family: Tapas

Temperature: Hot/ambient

Season: April, May, June

 

Serves 4

 

Ingredients

 

For the green pine cone oil

  • 100 g green pine cones
  • 100 g corn oil

 

For the pine nut oil cream

  • 100 g water
  • 50 g virgin raw pine nut oil
  • 0.6 g Xantana

 

For the skinned tender pine nuts

  • 10 x 100 g green pine cones

 

For the tender pine nut risotto

  • 60 g skinned tender pine nuts (previously prepared)
  • 50 g pine nut oil cream (previously prepared)
  • Salt

 

Preparation

 

For the green pine cone oil

  • Chop the green pine cone into 2 cm chunks.
  • Cover with the corn oil and cook at 65°C for 2 hours.
  • Refrigerate for 24 hours to infuse.
  • Strain before use.

 

For the pine nut oil cream

  • Add the Xantana to the water and process with a hand-held blender until lump-free.
  • Add the pine nut oil a little at a time, emulsifying constantly with a hand-held blender.
  • Set aside.

 

For the skinned tender pine nuts

  • Peel the pine cones and split them open lengthways to obtain the pine nuts.
  • Open the shells and carefully take out the tender pine nut kernels without breaking them.
  • Make 15 g of skinned tender pine nuts per person.
  • Refrigerate.

 

For the tender pine nut risotto

  • Put the pine nuts in a pan.
  • Add the pine nut cream oil and heat to achieve a texture similar to that of a risotto.
  • Season with salt.

 

NB: This preparation will be made immediately before finishing and presentation.

 

Finish and presentation

 

Ingredients

  • 20 g de sturgeon caviar

 

Instructions

  • Warm 4 soup plates.
  • Place the pine nut risotto in the middle of the plate covering the entire base.
  • Drizzle the risotto with 5 drops of green pine oil.
  • Place a 5 g spoon of sturgeon caviar on the right-hand side of the plate, in contact with the risotto.

 

Cutlery: Tapas spoon and fork.

How to eat: Alternate the risotto with the caviar without mixing. 

 

Adapted from elBulli 2005-2011 by Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler, Albert Adrià. Phaidon Press, 2014, www.phaidon.com/elbulli


elBulli 2005-2011 Book Signing – Chicago

We’re excited to welcome Ferran into our Lincoln Park store in Chicago for an exclusive book signing and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the renowned chef in person. Chicago-area residents, mark your calendars for Friday, March 14, and call to reserve your ticket to the event today — find more details here!

 

elBulli-Inspired Dinner Giveaway

Williams-Sonoma has teamed up with Kitchit and Phaidon Press to give away private dinners inspired by elBulli 2005-2011 in four cities: Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Kitchit chefs will be preparing multi-course modernist dinners for winners and their friends in Williams-Sonoma stores. Enter for a chance to win by clicking on your city below:

5 comments about “Meet Ferran Adria & Enter Our elBulli-Inspired Dinner Giveaway!

  1. Sandra Soliman

    We’ve been following Ferran for many years and we are in love with you! Phenomenal chef and perfectionist!!! Love it!!!! Would die if I won !!!

    Reply
  2. Marisa

    As a spanish child who emerged in the Culinary Field in 1998 it was hard to follow and admire someone . Chef Ferran has acomplished to be an inspiration and a leader to all of us who only wish we can be as creative an innovator. He is trulla amazing and I hope one day I can meet him.

    Reply

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