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Ferran Adrià

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  1. I’d like to thank all the eGullet Society members who have followed this feature, especially those who have participated. Coming back to the subject I proposed to you in my opening thread, my view is that the important thing is respect, understand that it is not your truth, that there are many truths out there. If we understand this, in cooking and life, we can progress. There’s not an only truth, there are many truths. As I said, thanks. ¡Hasta la próxima!
  2. Ok, Carolyn. Before we finish, let’s talk about pushing the envelope. We’re working on what we call the genome of cooking. This is something that is going to be simply unbelievable. The absolute madness after the books. It’s the first language, the first catalog, the first evolution catalog. It’s something that comes from another planet. What could you do with a product? All the products and all you can do with them. As we speak, two people are upstairs characterizing each product, product by product: taste, color, texture. Then we’ll use some software to handle all this information. At the end, where do we get motivation from? This line of work we’re opening requires a lot of effort. After the books, which we are super-proud of and we intend to publish one on a yearly basis from now on, we need new challenges. Outside the annual challenge of elBulli, to avoid that even the creative process becomes routine. So, now we’re working on this crazy thing. And getting some results, will take at least two years. We started ten years ago, this is the famous association taken to stratospheric levels.
  3. We follow the USA scene as closely as we can. Albert has just returned from Chicago, where he enjoyed Moto. We're passionate about the States. When someone tells me that you can't eat well in the States, I always answer that he hasn't been in the States. Without any doubt, America is going to be one of the places where one of the most important creative centers will develop. The lack of a strong tradition and no fear to change will contribute to that development.
  4. I'd like to share some thougts with you about Hacienda Benazuza and the restaurant we have there, which recently achieved its second Michelin star. We weren't looking for this second star, but we're inmensely happy for the people who are at the Hacienda. I always regret of not having had enough time to spend there. Rafa, Benazuza's chef, has put a lot of effort into it. The world of luxury hotels is a tough one and the effort to bring people to the restaurant is much higher there than the effort that would have been required, were the restaurant located in Barcelona. Right now, the situation of Hacienda, reminds me and the team of elBulli in the beginnings. How difficult it was to start it. If I decide to go to Benazuza with three people in the off-season months, that will be the right moment. But all this requires time: we need better equipment and facilities, and now we have more decision making capacity than a couple of years ago. There's no middle ground about Hacienda Benazuza: the options are quitting or doing something important in the hotel world. Right now, it's a challenge. Neither my partners nor myself are there because of the money. So, taking a look at the options, I'm afraid we have to do something important in the hotel world.
  5. The tepannitro. It’s a plancha that instead of radiating heat it uses nitrogen. It’s here, in elTaller, in the kitchen. We’re perfecting it. The name is a variation of tepanyaki. I don’t know if tepan means plancha, but the name sounds good, doesn’t it? It can look like a silly thing, but you’d have to sample the results! At the end of the season, for four days, we did some custard apple blinis with coffee caviar that were something else.
  6. I'd like to address your second paragraph. As I've said answering another question, it's always difficult to speculate about that which could have been, an exercise that I'm not specially fond of. However, there are many dishes that could have been done 200 years ago and even more!
  7. Two years ago I shot a series of films on “Simple cooking”. They were going to be released in video. Finally they were released in DVD. A little longer, and instead of DVDs we would be using the internet to make the series available. Is there going to be a replacement for the siphon? You never know. There are brilliant things that last 300 years, 500 years. A fried egg: it’s already present in Velázquez’s paintings. And it’s still brilliant. It’s rather complex to speculate about time.
  8. The important thing is that you enjoy the meal. Talking about taste, about product, about techniques, in the current state that cooking has achieved, it is as if we question that Ferrari uses good materials to build their cars. I hope so! I take it for granted. But when you buy a Ferrari, you expect something else than good materials or that it is built with good techniques. At the end, you expect magic. And that’s the most difficult thing, because that completely depends on the perception of each individual.
  9. There are an amazing number of variables in play when you decide to go to a restaurant. When you analyze them, it’s breath taking: why you go, who you go with, what are you looking for, what’s your physical condition, how is your partner. If it’s a business meal, how much the other people enjoy food. All of this influences the final decision. Location is another variable of the equation. Coming back to elBulli and its location, my cuisine wouldn’t have been what it is today were elBulli been located elsewhere.
  10. elBulli 2005 will be a follow-up of elBulli 2004, developing synergies. elBulli is always shaped around three factors: the previous year, a bit around all our know-how and finally around the new creations. New techniques and new concepts. That’s how dishes are formed. We have to avoid turning techniques into Kleenex, use and throw away. The journey of a technique is unbelievable. Take foams: we’ve made a sponge cake in a siphon and the microwave oven. It’s amazing. Next year, we’ll do two or three things with siphon. Not foams, but using the siphon. We almost have the menu of 2005 ready. We’re very happy with it. But at the end, to anticipate how brilliant the season is going to be is quite difficult. A lot of people told us that 2004 was a better season, or at least more important, than 2003. Honestly, I don’t think so. Why? Because in 2004 we’ve introduced fewer strange tastes. In 2003, there were no memory dishes. Almost nothing: I said I didn’t want adaptation and deconstruction. You could see that in the CDs of El Bulli, there’s almost nothing done using adaptation and deconstruction. However, in 2004 there were many dishes done using adaptation. Again, very few using deconstruction, but many using adaptation. What happens? The pistachio truffle is magic, but it is pistachio. Nobody would find it strange. If I would do the same with a truffle from Guatemala , people would be surprised, they would find it strange. Whether we want it or not, we’re still too subjectivized by our own memory. The statement “I’m very open” is very questionable, as soon as your coordinates are changed you don’t know how you’re going to react. One of the success factors of elBulli has been precisely that. No matter how good the reviews were, we didn’t go crazy with unnatural combinations, we’ve always looked for a harmony in the menu. When you change shapes, philosophies, textures, colors, if you also change harmonies, your brain can barely support it
  11. I'd like to add something about Heston, who is a friend of mine. Even if I didn't like his cuisine, which I do, he's probably the most interesting chef in the world. He understood that cooking is to have fun, which is something that people don't explain. People like to focus on the molecular thing, which is difficult to understand.
  12. We’re in conversations to distribute DVDs outside Spain. I own the DVDs so I can decide what to do with them. We have an agreement with Kaiku about the gazapacho, so with that product they are really the decision makers. We also have some oils with Borges distributed around the world.
  13. To be a chef, you have to have knowledge of products, classic techniques, contemporary techniques, history of cooking, gastronomic culture. If you want to have a restaurant, you have to know how to manage it. If you’re looking to get some exposure in the media, you have to know how to relate with them. And you have to have some knowledge about the scientific world. It doesn’t make too much sense that a chef starts studying chemistry from scratch, neither does it that he starts learning how to grow tomatoes. You look for the person who knows more about tomatoes, don’t you? It’s the same with chemistry, and it’s a major change. You have to differentiate between two type of technical actions: the knowledge about what already exists and the knowledge to create. There are two type of work, two type of knowledge. It can be wonderful that a scientist cooperates to make the perfect roast beef. But that would be it. It can be wonderful that a scientist helps us to create a thin layer of caramel, but made of salt instead of caramel. There are two different concepts. The latest trend, which covers the last 2-3 years, 4 at the most, goes in this direction. Until then, perhaps the scientist around the kitchen (there have always been scientists in kitchens) preferred more to explain what already existed. At elBulli, we've worked with scientists since 2003. All the techniques before 2003 were developed without their help. The hot gelatine, which without any doubt is one of the greatest contemporary techniques, was pure logic. We went to a Japanese restaurant, they served us agar-agar and we saw that it didn’t melt. What’s the purpose of the scientific world in the kitchen? Today, thanks to Pere and Ingrid, we started to discover seven or eight natural gelling agents. You go at a different pace. I don’t understand the characterization of molecular gastronomy as a type of cuisine. It’s happening the same that happened years ago with fusion, it’s becoming a common place. There isn’t a molecular cuisine. There’s a molecular movement, the molecular gastronomy, where some scientists cooperate with the world of cooking. Clearly, the move acts upon cooking, but I don’t think it’s a cuisine per se. In twenty years, we could look back and see how many new techniques, more than concepts, were introduced thanks to this movement. Having said this, whoever says that this movement doesn’t have a future, only has to pick up a phone, turn on the TV or log-in the internet. Science has changed the world.
  14. One of elBulli’s rules is not to know what you are going to dine on. Above all, I don’t keep dishes to prevent laziness. You know, you start keeping one dish in the menu and then you end up not changing the menu at all (I’m exaggerating a bit to make myself clear). Creativity and surprise go hand in hand. The surprise element in consecutive meals is different. The first time you look at a Michelangelo is unique. When the surprising effect is gone, you lose one of the components of creativity. What would happen if you see a goal in soccer twice? The surprise element of the goal is not there. I eat 25 or 30 times elBulli’s menu and it’s always different. Depending on how you’re feeling that day, the sensation left by a dish moves you differently emotionally. People who come to elBulli come to eat creativity. Because this is the most important fact about elBulli. You take it for granted that it would be good. That something with the level of elBulli is good I find that is hard to argue about. A different matter is that you enjoy it. As we do hard and pure creativity year after year, there’s no room for repetition at elBulli. It’s a kitchen of nuances. We do what we want. Without references. In other cuisines, there are references: if you and I go to have a woodcock, we have reference elements. Not at elBulli.
  15. I know, I know, this is a platitude: the favorite dish is always the latest one. An emblematic dish from elBulli would be the menestra en texturas.
  16. Hilary, to be honest, I don’t think so. Having said that, the taste of childhood is the taste I’ve got now. Evolved, logically. I mean, the childhood indelibly shapes your perception of taste, it's not the same living it in Spain as in China. I don’t think that haute cuisine and childhood food have a clear link. I think they’re too far from each other.
  17. I set a clear separation between my work as a chef and my private life. In my private life, I try to eat well without going crazy. I couldn’t wake up every single day asking me whether I have the best milk, the best butter, if the croissant is just baked. I just try to eat well.
  18. I doubt there will be another elBulli in the world. Better said: it’s impossible there will be another elBulli in the world. Why? Because elBulli is creativity and the four or five people who are at elBulli have to be together. If we are anywhere else, we’re not at elBulli. Another question is whether we could create something different: we’ve started from the low end of the chain, which would be Fast Good, which we’re perfecting and soon we’ll be opening the second location. But maybe, between Fast Good being the lowest way of eating decently and elBulli, we could think of something in between. That’s the question, if some day we’ll decide to create something in between. We’ve considered that, but haven’t reached a conclusion yet.
  19. There are great, wonderful articles on elBulli. Now, with the trilogy El Bulli 1983-02, things will be easier. Many times, the problem is not having the right documentation at hand to discuss things in proper terms.
  20. There are many of those, Suzi. We treat creativity in a very normal way. Don’t think that we consider creativity as something mystical: as we go to shop or to the market or clean the pots and pans, we “do” creativity. We don’t magnify it because otherwise we would become crazy. Spherification, for example, was developed in one hour, after a visit to a factory. The technique of doing hard balls has been there for many years. Gelatine shots. Spherification consists in anticipation. You extract the ball sooner and the inside remains in a liquid state. Some say: and you’re so famous for that? Well, someone discovered the salt and changed cooking for ever. And that’s something simple, isn’t it? Things are not important because of the effort required to accomplish, but because of what they are. The question of copying has appeared here and there in this Q&A. We have a crystal clear example of that in this year, which is nitrogen. We haven’t been the first to work with nitrogen. The first one I saw using nitrogen was Hervé This. I saw him in 1996. We paid no attention to him. It was on the TV, with Michel Bras, doing a sorbet. And Bras paid no attention to him. Afterwards, Heston seriously started using nitrogen back in 2000. We were playing with it, doing some tests which were confirmed when Albert and Oriol visited Heston. But when we adopt nitrogen, we start by developing the synergies with all our techniques and change the world of nitro. You can do the “Ajoblanco 2004”, or the pistachio truffle, which is incredible. It’s a very simple technique that opens an amazing way with dried fruit purées. Thanks to our version of the technique, those truffle can be done. Or the outstanding pâte de fruits using agar-agar we made the last day of elBulli’s 2004 season. Really outstanding. Or nitro spaghetti. This is when you realize that when used properly, techniques are wonderful instruments. The problem is when you don’t do it right. No matter if it’s spherification, air or foams. Do it right. This example of nitrogen, a technique which is not ours and which we adapt, I would dare to say that is a master class to those who complain about copies in haute cuisine. Nonsense! The issue is to have the ability and the personality to imprint a personal touch to the technique.
  21. Culinary schools are of paramount importance nowadays. Entering a kitchen with a good training is essential. Perhaps the problem which culinary schools face today, which has taken a turn for the worse in the last five years and we have had something to do with it, has to do with the content of what needs to be covered. The curriculum. There are so many new things in the last ten years that curriculum need a review. I would structure it around these subjects: historic cuisine, classic cuisine, Nouvelle cuisine and contemporary cooking. My advice is this: be patient. The big issue of today’s kitchens is that everybody wants to be a chef. Seven or eight years of training is something absolutely necessary to develop maturity, without exceptions. When I became chef at 22, I would have loved to have five or six years of training. My case was almost an accident. Now with us we have Eduardo Xatruc, who has been with us since 1999. In four years, he will be the best we’ve ever had. From a training perspective, I mean. He’s having an impressive career, he’s been in every single station and he’s patient. He was lucky enough to start when he was extremely young, at 18. Now he’s a kid at 23. We can only imagine what he’ll be doing with five more years. The problem begins when at 21, with two or three stages, you want to throw yourself ahead. This is not solid and you pay for that. It’s like going to the top too fast. It’s not good. At the end, you pay for it. If you climb too fast, you’re not going to have structure, and without structure everything is going to fall apart. I know that it’s easy to say and harder to understand it, but at elBulli, I was patient from 1984 to 1997. And I was a chef already. If what later happened at elBulli would have happened to me in just four or five years, I couldn’t have taken it. Fortunately, there was an incredible team and we’ve progressed step by step. A problem that many people face is that their careers are not in their hands. They are in the hands of media.
  22. Tad, umami is something that I haven't mastered and I would like someone to explain it thoroughly to me. Candidly speaking, I believe that for someone with Occidental background it’s hard to understand what umami is. To me, right now it's just salted, so that's why I'd like some day to discuss it at some length with someone knowledgeable about it.
  23. Hi, Robb, this is a fascinating area. Cooking techniques can come in to the world of cocktailing. This is an authentic revolution. We can say that in Spain there has been innovation in the field of cocktails. As it happened with cooking, it will take seven or eight years for this trend to develop. I believe that our work, in hands of good barmen, will yield incredible results. We’ve just simply outlined the foundations.
  24. I just want you to anticipate that we're considering taking a Sabatic year: closing on October 2006 and reopening on March 2008. What would Michelin do? Who knows? PS: You haven't asked about elBulli's dining room. Now it's an avant-garde dining room.
  25. I don’t make an effort to be different. Neither I think I’m better for being different. And I have business where I don’t want to be different. At elBulli, what we feel up to is to wake up in the morning and have this unique excitement of seeing if we’re able of doing something new. I don’t work for ego or money anymore. I work to have fun. And having fun requires of that exciment that you get when making something new.
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