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Anu Gulmohar takes you into the world of new age cooking and
brings you an exclusive interview with the man shaping a new
language in gastronomy – Ferran Adrià

the sunday indian 72 6 july 2008


Life inside
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brighter hue

environment philosophy heroes science travel paranormal sports

Enter the
home of
culinary
innovation
Anu Gulmohar takes you
into the world of new age
cooking and brings you an
exclusive interview with
the man shaping a new
language in gastronomy –
Ferran Adrià

the sunday indian 73 6 july 2008


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in a village not too far from


Cappuccino of mint-flavoured elBulli. If Picasso invented
baby broad beans cubism and gave a whole
new direction to art, Adrià
is inventing a delectable new
language in cooking.
Considering Ferran Adrià
is the presiding god of haute
cuisine, the journey up to
his 'temple' is no less than a
pilgrimage. It is a long, long
journey to elBulli. Getting to
Roses, at the outskirts of
which is this restaurant, was
not easy as pie either. As I
covered the last leg of my
journey sitting in a cab, I
found myself drawing fur-
ther and further away from
the bustling world, as if psy-
chologically, I was being
prepared to let go of my no-
tions and beliefs, and open
myself to a whole new
world. elBulli has not a whiff
of the sophisticated jazz that
I’d half expected to find at
the 'world’s best restaurant';
instead, a warm, welcoming
restaurant, overlooking the
Cala Monjoi bay greeted me.

H
“The possibility of finding
aute cuisine has
always been the
elBulli, the three-Michelin-
starred restaurant run by
ferran adrià new paths, new roads, new
things, is very important.
prerogative of Ferran Adrià, has come out and his ‘de- There are jobs that you can’t

velopment
French chefs, on the top of the heap in go further with, whereas in
but there’s a man in their 2002, 2006, 2007 and in cooking, you can keep dis-
neighbouring country who
has been leading a revolu-
2008 too. People with the
evolutionary advantage of squad’ work covering new ways,” said the
46-year-old master chef to
tion from his kitchen. Fer-
ran Adrià's been on the cov-
being able to look food-
wards for more reasons than
15 hours a me. But the road isn’t always
easy, and is almost always
er of the Time magazine, bare- bones survival, have day, creating strewn with sceptics and

new dishes
which listed him among the been developing an appetite, competition trying to bring
most influential men of our or would you rather, a pal- you down. Still Ferran
times; he’s been on the cover ate, for new, exotic cuisines, doesn’t consider a dose of
of The New York Times mag- both in India and abroad, foodies like me. Ferran’s un- courage vital for those mov-
azine too; and acknowledg- and I personally, unasham- conventional creations, like ing on from reinventing rec-
ing his work, France’s Le edly, adhere to the trend. sour ice creams (!), mozza- ipes to creating their own
Monde Sunday edition too Thinking about Ferran rella and caviar pizzas, and marvels. “It is not a question
featured him on their cover. Adrià and his ‘development foams, shocked the world of being courageous, but a
Every year about 600 of the squad’ working 15 hours a and attracted much scepti- question of whether you’re
most respected chefs, res- day, creating new dishes to cism at first. Slowly, shock free; for if you’re free then
taurateurs, critics and gour- savour, deserts to ravish and turned to awe and this Span- only you can be creative,”
mands decide on the 50 best sensations to cherish is tre- iard began to be compared said Ferran. 1987 was the
restaurants in the world, and mendously exciting for with Picasso, who once lived year when he discovered his

the sunday indian 74 6 july 2008


world's best chef

freedom, when he found


himself solely in charge of french chef jacques maximin’s words,
the kitchen at elBulli. This “creativity means not copying,” spurred
him to leave cook books aside
was also the year when
French chef Jacques Max-
imin’s words, “Creativity
means not copying,” spurred 'Molecular Gastronomy'. year’s menu. This is also it, but not new things.” And
him and his team to leave Adrià’s school of cooking when they travel and try out then he tells me something
cook books aside and create came up with another new restaurants in different parts that should be of interest to
their own culinary identity. concept – Deconstruction of the world, looking for in- a majority of Indians, “If
“There was a whole cycle (!!). What this implied was spiration and perhaps for vegetarians come here, I
that was a lot of fun; from that they would deconstruct more dishes to deconstruct! prepare a vegetarian menu
1994 on... It was a turning a dish and analyse its indi- “The best restaurants in the with 30 dishes in total.” Peo-
point in cooking, because vidual components. Then, world are in Spain,” believes ple who consider visiting el-
this period set the path to a by using science, reconstruct the Spaniard, “But I am also Bulli the next time they
new language.” This was the it in such a manner that on in love with Japanese food. travel to Spain, should keep
time when Ferran and his tasting it, a person would There are some wonderful in mind that this restaurant
team began to truly under- recognise the original prop- restaurants in Tokyo,” Fer- receives about 8,00,000 re-
stand the nature of the prod- erties, and would be delight- ran reveals. I wonder aloud quests for a table each sea-
ucts they used and began ed with its new form. So if that is the reason why son, and are able to accom-
laying the foundation for when they deconstructed most of his creations revolve modate just 8,000 diners!
entirely new techniques and the classic Indian chicken around sea food and veg- Lately, a controversy
concepts. They didn’t permit curry, they came up with gies, instead of the European sparked off when another
long-standing dogmas to curry ice cream! staple of red meat. “No,” re- top Spanish chef, Santi San-
limit their creativity, and fig- elBulli is closed in the plied Ferran, “that’s just be- tamaria declared that Adrià’s
ured that vegetables tradi- winters for six months, and cause I seem to be incapable style of cooking had harm-
tionally used in savoury they dedicate this period of creating anything new ful side effects. Attached to
dishes, like tomatoes, peas every year to whip up whol- with red meat! I could do the traditional style of cook-
and beetroots would be per- ly new dishes for the next plenty of good things with ing, Santamaria’s accusations
fect for sweeter dishes, while
fruits like raspberries and
passion fruits, due to their
acidic properties, would be
just right for savoury dishes!
They introduced items like
pop-corns, oreo cookies, lol-
lipops in haute cuisine and
toyed with whether air
could be considered a prod-
uct! This speculation led to
their invention of foams –
an airy essence of literally
any edible product, from al-
monds and coriander to co-
conuts, white beans and po-
tatoes – by using siphons
and liquid nitrogen. The
concept of creating these
foams has today been adopt-
ed by hundreds of chefs
worldwide. Thus, the aroma
from Adrià’s kitchen spread
afar as more and more peo-
ple recognised him as a pio-
neer of ahem...

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1. Textured vegetable panaché


2. Peach sandwich with apple, courgette
and celeriac 3. Mackerel with smoked
romesco and goat cheese
4. Smoked shoulder of Iberian pork stew

4
of Adrià potentially poison- man. To create, I have to do 3 2
ing his customers led to de- something different, and at
tailed and heated discus-
sions between the pro- and
times it can be shocking.”
Back home, anchor of the
exotica like coconut cloud with a chilled
tropical gazpacho,” said Bali.
anti-Adrià camps. A few show Rasm-e-Rasoi, chef hot ice-creams In another 20 minutes el-

and egg yolks


days ago, Ferran appeared Nikhil Rastogi of The Park Bulli was to open for the
on Spanish state television speaks highly of Ferran and evening. Reaching the end
and said, “It has been made
clear that these products are
his team. “They do a lot of
R&D. They've done so much encased in of my rendezvous with Fer-
ran, I asked him when his
totally healthy and they have
been used for 50 years.” And
for the culinary world. I
think that nobody else has
caramel will work would be complete.
“Well, never,” Ferran had re-
giving an example of exactly been able to achieve even still be coming plied. “We work in a team.

out of elBulli's
how they use the chemicals, half of what they have... like It’s the whole team that’s
Ferran said, “the best choco- grilled watermelons, some- working here, not just me. I
late in the world contains
lecithin, which makes it
thing nobody can even
think of doing!” kitchens really don’t know if it will
ever be completed.” I guess
more fluid... and what we've “Experimentation is really mension; experimenting culinary exotica like hot ice-
done is take this to serve in important,” he continued, with ingredients to produce creams, frothy truffle cap-
another dish”. Sitting by me “as we really get bored with new and exciting flavours. puccinos, toasted popcorns
at the table at elBulli, a few the same cuisine, the same He has greatly inspired chefs with chocolate covering, egg
weeks before this storm masalas and the same tadkas from the world over to look yolks encased in caramel,
brew-up, Ferran had said, “I day in and day out. We need at creativity from a different lollipops created out of veg-
have been accepting critics to find new things.” Chef perspective, and has given etables and other such in-
for the past 30 years. But the Anurag Bali, Executive Sous the culinary world a new ec- genious delicacies will be
more one finds out about Chef, The Claridges, New lectic cuisine.” People living coming out of the kitchens
our food, the more their Delhi too had only praises in Delhi can get a taste of of elBulli for a long, long
perception changes. Some to sing for the guru of avant- Ferran’s innovative dishes at time to come. 
people find me to be eccen- garde cuisine. “Ferran Adrià The Claridges’ Spanish res-
tric because they don’t know has played a key role in giv- taurant, Sevilla. “We serve With inputs from Aakriti
me. But I am a very average ing food a whole new di- tomato vanilla foam, and a Bhardwaj

the sunday indian 76 6 july 2008