Like many of you perhaps, my first exposure to Ferran Adria came courtesy of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. Apart from the work I do in helping to select books and resources for the library, my exposure to the world of restaurant kitchens has really been limited to friends who cook. It seems to be a tough business; long hours, low margins, high probability of failure, high staff turn over, often unpleasant, stressful working conditions – I could go on.
So, El Bulli looked nothing like the restaurants I’d come to know through stories, though – to be clear – nothing about it looked easy. First up, There was the menu: 30-50 courses over 5+ hours. Interesting… Then it was seasonal; and by seasonal I don’t mean that they served strawberries in the summer. I mean, when it closed for the Winter the staff left the 52 ticket restaurant in a small cove on the Costa Brava and the kitchen retreated to a Barcelonan lab for the Winter to invent. Say what..?
They assembled to be under the tutelage of the man who arguably is the most important of the modern conception of chefs-as-brand and the Godfather of Molecular Gastronomy: Ferran Adrià.
Perhaps because his work has been so consistently inventive and so highly praised it has been documented religiously. We purchased our first of the catalogues: ElBulli 2005-2011 this year and will collect another each year until we have the full set. Gorgeous books, well worth exploring