Sunday, 10 November 2013

“One must not only understand the tomato, but the whole tomato plant”

Annabelle Beydoun
Ever since the “Tavole Accademiche” project was presented, one of the most anticipated chefs to visist the University has been Ferran Adrià. Some of his dishes are being featured on the cafeteria menu for the next 5 days and today he spoke to a room full of students eager to listen.
Adrià gave a little bit of background on his carrer. He started from nothing, not even being interested in cooking itself, eventually becoming the head Chef at “El Bulli” in his early twenties. At the restaurant the purpose of cooking was to go beyond what is and discover creativity, defy limits, make mistakes and above all answer the “why?” of everything.
All of the 1846 dishes revealed at El Bulli where conceived with this vision, “Always ask why!” Adrià would emphasize strongly. The restaurant was a channel for a paradigm shift, in 1998 it was the first place to share their recipes; “The mision was creativity, once it’s donce, that’s it!” then the team would keep moving forward with passion, taking risks, creating controversy and always maintaining a strong mental attitude to overcome criticism.
Finally revealing his secret for success: “We were searching for happiness, not success itself, the awards came later as a consequence of our passion.” He also explained the reasons why ultimately he decided to close the restaurant: All success has an expiration date, the booking situation wasn’t pretty, the organization of the kitchen and service became horribly perfect to the point of being boring and the most important motivation was to give a gift to all his employees, to give them time to reflect and understand all of the work they had done over the years, and understand what cooking truly means. Closing the restaurant he also made way to El Bulli Foundation, the next step.
From this topic Adrià gave a small lesson on questions he asked himself and took years to understand, all on cooking, the origins of life, art, the evolution of the culinary process. Spoke about issues like the separation of the cook and the diner and the importance of the latter in the cooking experience. Giving a plethora of examples and explaining that to be able to answer these questions “one must go back to being a kid, back to the start in order to create”.

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