I think I should start out by saying I am not a huge fan of “molecular gastronomy”. This is not to say that if someone offered me 2 seat at El Bulli, I wouldn’t max out my credit cards and hop on the first flight to Barcelona. Absolutely! These chefs (Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal, Grant Achatz, Wylie Dufresne etc.) are redefining food and cuisine as we know it. They are pushing boundaries and forever broadening ideas about food. But, while I am crafting my culinary education, I want to focus on learning perfection, finesse and working with the highest quality seasonal ingredients available. I don’t want to waste time learning gels, foams and other techniques that I don’t foresee myself utilizing in the future.
When I found out Ferran Adria was coming to speak to our school, I was excited because he is probably the most noticeable face at forefront of this movement. He is pioneer and on his way to becoming a legend if he isn’t one already. What I didn’t expect was how moved and motivated I was by his speech. He spoke not of gels and foams, but of creativity and how to cultivate it as a method for improving ones craft, which helped me to look past the “molecular gastronomy” and all its crutches to see that what this man was about was something entirely different. These new methods that are being utilized do not define what Ferran referred to as Modernist Cuisine, they are merely expressions of a particular though process, experiment or period of time.
One of the reasons for Ferran’s visit was to promote a new book by Lisa Abend called The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adria’s El Bulli. This book is a collection of experiences of former stagiaires (for those of you who are not familiar with the term stage, it is when a student or an apprentice [stagiaire] who volunteers their time to learn from a master) Abend was given full access to the kitchen of El Bulli and all the people in it, not to mention stagiaires gone by; some of whom were also members of the discussion panel. What inspired my most were all the comments from the panel about how they couldn’t find the words to express themselves about the feeling, environment or community that exists within the El Bulli kitchen. The whimsical looks on their faces adequately articulated the impact the experience had on them. My minds was racing. I too was longing to feel that elation from my work, so inspired and transformed.
The second thing that Ferran had come to talk about was the El Bulli Foundation. For those of you who are not aware, El Bulli is closing its doors in 2012 and will never open again, well at least in the traditional sense. They are going to completely transform the place to become a meeting ground for creative minds from a variety of disciplines; all in the pursuit of moving forward to unlock the minds potential for creative genius in all things culinary. The Foundation played for us a video, which I am going to share with you that goes into detail the future plans for the foundation, including some 3D renderings of the architectural transformations. I did not find this video on the website, but you can find other inspirational videos about El Bulli’s future, although most of the text is in Spanish. Enjoy.