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Caso Ferran Adria and ElBulli-ESADE En

Caso Ferran Adria and ElBulli-ESADE En

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Published by: jamiechef on Sep 01, 2009
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CaseCreativity: Ferran Adrià
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“While there are many exciting chefs throughout Spain, … the man who is redefining haute cuisine into altacocina is a prodigiously talented, self-taught Catalan Ferran Adrià”.
The New York Times Magazine
, August 10
th
2003“The latest wave in cooking incorporates ingredients from all over the world, in unlikely combinations. Theemblem of this movement is Ferran Adrià, the chef-owner of elBulli, on the Costa Brava, in Spain...”.
 The New Yorker 
, May 12
th
2003“elBulli, the best restaurant in the world”.
 Restaurant Magazine
, 2007
elBulli is happiness, a new way of understanding and practicing haute cuisine that seeks tomake diners happy for the duration of the meal. Built on the legacy of the originalrestaurant founded in Cala Montjoi more than 45 years ago, the evolution of elBulli is theoutcome not only of exuberant imagination, but also of hard work and persistence. WhileFerran Adrià is elBulli’s most visible face, the restaurant is the creation of a great team andnot of a lonely genius: “To stay at the top, you need the very best team. What makes usdifferent is that we’re one big family and we have the best possible team”, explains thechef.
2
This talented, committed and ebullient family has a nucleus that endures over time andensures its stability and fringe members that change over the years, allowing for itscontinuous renewal. The nucleus consists of the restaurant’s owners, Ferran Adrià and JuliSoler, 50% each of elBulli in all respects. They define their relationship as a marriage, andas the chef explains, “I take care of creating new dishes, and Juli and I deal equally withfinancial matters”. As for the brothers Ferran and Albert, their creative relationship is a“perfect symbiosis”: “Ferran and I have a great creative relationship, expressed in theconnection and harmony that are produced between his creations and mine. This results in asense of continuity during the meal”, explains Albert.
3
Similarly strong is the relationshipof Albert Adrià and Oriol Castro, the pair that - along with Ferran Adrià – is at the heart of the creativity workshop. In addition, a series of other first rate chefs who could haveopened and successfully run their own elite restaurants carry on working with Ferran inelBulli.
***
1
 
© 2007 Marcel Planellas y Silviya Svejenova, Professors of the Business Policy Department, ESADEBusiness School, 60-62 Pedralbes Av., 08034 Barcelona, Spain. This manuscript has been prepared onthe basis of the presentation “Creativity: Ferran Adrià”, which took place at ExpoManagement on 24May 2006 in Madrid.
2
Adrià, in Oppenheim, C.H. (2003). La magia de Ferran Adrià. Bonvivant. August, p. 31.
3
Albert Adrià, in Wright, C (2001). ElBulli: The Science of Desert. Pastry Art & Design, February, p. 46.
1
 
THE (HUMBLE) BEGINNINGS OF THE WORLD’S BEST RESTAURANT
elBulli started out as a modest minigolf course in 1961. Its founders, the Germanhomeopath Hans Schilling and his wife of Czechoslovakian origin, Marketta, named the business
elBulli
after 
bulli,
as they playfully called their French bulldogs. Two years later,the elBulli golf course became a beach bar frequented by local diving enthusiasts, before being converted in 1964 into a restaurant serving roast chicken and barbecue fish alongwith other simple dishes. It was in the 1970s that the restaurant began to serve moresophisticated, French dishes including flambéed sea bass and fennel and double sirloinsteak with béarnaise sauce. The French influence became even more pronounced with thearrival of chef Jean-Louis Neichel in 1975. A year later, the restaurant was awarded its firstMichelin star. When the restaurant was closed in the winter, Neichel was sent to work witha distinguished French chef and visited leading European restaurants in search of inspiration. In 1981, however, Neichel announced that he was moving to Barcelona, andMarketta began to seek a new team. This was when she met Juli Soler in a bar. Followingan interview with Dr. Schilling, Marketta’s husband, Juli was hired on December 25
th
1981to manage one of the best restaurants in Catalonia. This is how Juli Soler remembers it:
At that time, a table at elBulli was already different to tables in other restaurants inSpain. Even the cutlery, glassware and china were imported from Germany anddrew their inspiration from the great restaurants of the time, belonging to AlainChapel, Jacques Pic, and so on. The service, consideration – in short, the way therestaurant was run, were also based on these models. … the Doctor suggested I dotwo months of intensive travelling, visiting the best restaurants in France, Belgiumand Germany. On my return, in the middle of March 1981, I was ready to face myfirst season as manager. … elBulli was an enchanting place, getting there wasalmost an adventure, but thanks to our clientele and word of mouth, Germans,French and a good many Catalans came to savour a cuisine that, although verydifferent to that of today, was already in the forefront of new European trends.Jean-Paul Vinay’s menu was very much in the nouvelle cuisine line, with lightinfluences from his home town, Lyon, and from Michel Guérard, as one of the last places he had worked had been in his restaurant; and added to all this was thequality of the best produce from our region: the best home-grown vegetables,succulent fish and shellfish, and so on. And then, of course, there was our  philosophy, our interest above all in giving pleasure to the diner, so that he wouldleave the place a satisfied and happy man. In fact, inspired by unwritten, but ever- present guidelines, we ensured, and still do, that the atmosphere in elBulli wasunique.
4
Ferran Adrià entered elBulli in 1983 on one month’s leave from his military service in thenavy in Cartagena. His previous experience in other restaurants had enabled him to work inthe admiral’s kitchen where he had to serve a new menu every day. This is Adrià’sexplanation of what happened in that era:
By chance, at the beginning of that year, another budding young chef, also Catalan,was posted to the kitchen to assist me. He was Fermí Puig, now chef at the prestigious Drolma restaurant in Barcelona. … As everyone knows, military
4
Source: History of elBulli (www.elBulli.com).
2
 
service has its rules, its hierarchies, its rituals and customs. In that kitchen, the oldhand was me, and the new boy, Fermí. Whether it was to win my confidence or toshare experiences outside the barracks, the fact was that that spring, he suggestedthat during our month’s leave in August, I should do a stint in elBulli, a restauranton the Costa Brava where he had worked. He told me it was one of the best inSpain, and that it had two Michelin stars. Little did he know that at that time I hadno idea what that meant. However, I took note of what he said and perhaps beganmaking plans to spend a pleasant summer at the beach; in fact this is probably whatinfluenced my decision, rather than the idea of going to work in a restaurant duringmy month’s leave. Meanwhile, we devoted ourselves to our first culinaryexperiments, and I made my first foray into nouvelle cuisine guided by chefs suchas Michel Guérard and the Troisgros brothers, thanks to the books that Fermí had brought with him. For several months, we copied the dishes from these recipes andserved them to the Admiral. … This was "act one" of the five acts making up mycareer in El Bulli, five decisive moments that may be summarised as follows: thesummer job in 1983, joining the staff at the end of March 1984, my promotion tochef de cuisine along with Christian Lutaud in October 1984, taking over thekitchen on my own in March 1987 and the setting up of the partnership with Juli in1990. The most remarkable thing about all this is that chance was what determinedmy career, except for the last item, which was the only thing consciously planned.Everything else happened as I have related it, it is true, but it could easily haveturned out otherwise. The only thing I am sure of is that elBulli changed my lifeand made me what I am. It only remains for me to thank all those who have donetheir bit to turn elBulli into something more than just a restaurant: it is a way of understanding life.
5
Ferran thoroughly enjoyed his one-month stay at elBulli, and at the end of his militaryservice, he joined the restaurant in March 1984. In October of that year, he and ChristianLutaud became the head chefs, jointly responsible for the modest kitchen of about 50square metres. Very few people used to come to the restaurant between October andJanuary, so the co-chefs had time to visit the greatest restaurants of French haute cuisineand complete their training with some of their famous chefs. Ferran went to work withGeorges Blanc and Jacques Pic, and Christian, with Troisgros and Michel Chavran. In1985, Albert Adrià, Ferran’s younger brother, joined the elBulli team, specialising indesserts as time went by. Between 1983 and 1986, the elBulli team conducted a thoroughoverhaul of its legacy of classical cuisine and nouvelle cuisine, producing its own versionsof these recipes.In 1987 Ferran became the restaurant’s only chef and discovered his growing commitmentto the profession. A simple sentence left an indelible stamp on the direction of his career,“Creativity means not copying”, something he had heard the famous French chef JacquesMaximin say in 1987 in a demonstration he was giving at the Escoffier Foundation inCannes. These are Adrià’s thoughts:
This simple sentence was what brought about a change in approach in our cooking,and was the cut-off point between "re-creation" and a firm decision to becomeinvolved in creativity. After getting back to the restaurant, we were convinced that
5
Source: History of elBulli (www.elBulli.com).
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