Spanish cuisine became so internationally recognized because of Ferran Adria and the long waiting list of El Bulli. But why was El Bulli so eye-catching, why did so many people get caught in the buzz of molecular cuisine. In short the answer lies in the micro details, so to speak in the molecules, something that many chefs didn’t overlook completely, but the focus at the diner table was more on the macro view. His micro thinking was extremely detailed, thought out, new and focused, practiced and perfected, and for the same reason Japanese cuisine in Japan is so intriguing and rarely boring.
We enjoyed our few visits to El Bulli (always as a guest of Juli) and we adored him, he was a wonderful and compassionate friend. I will never forget our first visit, we ate in the kitchen, it was quiet, and the chef was sitting at the counter beside us, scripting on a note pad most of the night.
It was then that I realized that he didn’t act like a typical chef. He looked more like a writer caught in deep thought. By the way, if you didn’t know, Leonardo Da Vinci was first a cook and he had a restaurant with Botticelli, which failed, due to his advanced cuisine and unpopularity.
Ferran is a structural thinker, a chef that understood the idea of constructing and de-constructing by experimenting with ideas, science and a multitude of raw materials. He could see his future, he looked ahead and his ideas grew from sharing his vision.
It was clear at the time that other chefs had been working for years with molecules but few took it as far as he did. Joel Robuchon worked for thirty years with Bruno Goussault, he is gentle with a big heart, I had a chance to train with him. Interestingly Robuchon later changed his mind about Ferran’s cuisine and for reasons I could understand.
Ferran’s foods had to look more than right, because right was what he invented. He used the plate as a canvas to create dishes. This was one of the first times a chef constructed all new ideas in three dimension. This had not really happened before this way, it was the same way that Magritte looked at abstraction.
Experimentation led him on a pathway to seeking new recipes and technical ideas. He made food exciting and lent a hand in taking cuisine from the dark ages to the present day. His success and fame is mostly because he created a “his language” with ideas that were adopted and used by chefs around the globe. He succeeded in making permanent changes and this made him a great chef.
Categories: Life Cycles