Ferran Adria: Food is the new Rock’n’Roll

 

Photo: Mark Von Holden / Getty Images for The International Culinary Center

Ferran Adrià is possibly the most famous chef in the world. His restaurant El Bulli, in Spain’s Catalonia, accepts six thousand lucky diners a year. A million are turned away annually, and there is a six-year waiting list. The list is going to get a little longer because Adrià announced that he plans to close El Bulli for two years at the end of the 2011 season, and is turning the restaurant into a kitchen laboratory. He’s been called the father of foam, and of deconstructive cooking. Oh, and a genius. He’s also been labeled a mad scientist who concocts food from chemicals and air. Adrià was recently in New York, and Slashfood sat down for a talk with the Catalan master.

What does deconstructionism mean?
FA: It’s one of the styles we’ve done in the past 25 years. But in the past few years we’ve hardly done any deconstruction. We started it in ’94, we started a new discourse, a new language which people didn’t understand, to try and establish some kind of umbilical cord with people in a very unconscious way. The deconstruction style was born, for example, when I created savory ice cream. In ’94 it was quite strange, quite unusual to have curry ice cream. So I was creating a dish that had no references; people had nothing they could relate it to. When I made chicken curry I would bring a dish which had curry ice cream, chicken stock, coconut milk. They looked at it and didn’t recognize it, and when I told them it was chicken curry they thought I was mad. But when you ate it you would establish the references. I like to make an analogy to Japanese food. If you’ve never been to Japan and then you go to the most authentic Japanese restaurant, it’s a new language — you will not understand most of the things you will eat, and it seems quite strange. This is what happens at El Bulli, deconstruction helped to establish these links and references.

Describe your style.
FA: The Bulli style! People have described it dozens of ways, but the most simple and professional way is described on our website — there are 23 points that establish the El Bulli cuisine. In the end, it’s a creative cuisine.
What do you say to critics who say you are pretentious?

FA: There are hundreds of critics around the world. Some of them like what I do, some don’t, but most of them have never been to El Bulli. Independent from the aspects of the cuisine, it’s the most unpretentious restaurant compared with the high-end restaurants. It’s like being at somebody’s home; it’s a very relaxed and laid back. The actual dining area is very traditional looking.

Although it is true that being avant garde tends to be quite pretentious because being that means establishing a dialog when you don’t understand something.

It’s an interesting fact, because the most important social network in the world right now is food. Food is the new rock and roll. When we started it people thought it was a faze, a fad and its actually withstood time. Food is about being happy — at a table, that’s probably where we spend most of our happiest hours, and that’s the force behind our cuisine.

Tell me about your course at Harvard.
FA: The most important fact behind the courses at Harvard is that food has entered Harvard — that is revolutionary in itself. They’re introducing cuisine into society but in a very normalized way. Harvard has established dialogs with different kinds of disciplines except cuisine — until now.

What’s your advice for home cooks?
FA: In 1998 I did a cookbook called Cooking in Ten Minutes. It was probably at the height of my avant-garde creativity. We had just received our third Michelin star, and when I published this book, people were quite shocked.

The problem is in education. The only country where nutrition as health is a subject is Norway; they establish a discourse with home cooking. If you don’t have any education, it’s very difficult to establish that dialog with home cooks.

Why do we know how to do math sums? We learned when we were kids and consider it normal. If you start teaching your children at an early age with regards to health and nutrition, when he or she is 18 and starts to cook, she will make simple things.

For example you can go to the supermarket and buy the best pasta and the best ready made pesto and a nice Parmesan. But if you go home, take a very small pot and put all your pasta in it and cook it, you’re not going to end up with a good pasta. Cooking is not that difficult but you need to learn.

Source: http://www.slashfood.com/

 

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