Ferran Adria. His famous restaurant El Bulli closed in 2011, but now it serves as the headquarters for his foundation for food and gastronomic research.
He is called the "Salvador Dali" of the kitchen by Gourmet Magazine, Ferran Adrià is considered to be one of the best, if not the best, chef in Spain and quite possible the world. Adrià uses his culinary creativity and ingenuity together with new and innovative techniques in the kitchen. Thanks to all of this, he managed to generate great interest and expectation for obtaining a reservation at his now closed restaurant, El Bulli (named for the dogs of the restaurant's previous owner). Thought to have been one of the best restaurants in the world for two decades, El Bulli, located in Catalonia overlooking the Montjoi Cove in Gerona, two hours north of Barcelona.
Even though the restaurant closed to the public in 2011, since 2014 it serves as the headquarters for his foundation for food and gastronomic research. This center is a constant reminder of Adrià's prestige and many are anxious for this place to open its doors once again as a restaurant. All of this is not the result of luck, but instead it is the culmination of a life dedicated to the kitchen, creativity, breaking with dogma and adventure—in both the technical and business realms directed by Adrià.
This famous chef was born in Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona in 1962. He stopped studying when he was 18 years old and began his life in the restaurant world as a dishwasher in a restaurant in the Hotel Playafels in Castelldefels where he was introduced to the world of cooking. He continued his training in various restaurants until he found work as a chef's helper in Finisterre, a popular casa de comidas (a rustic eatery) in Barcelona. When Adrià was 22 he finished his compulsory military service at the naval base in Cartagena where worked as a cook and quickly found work in El Bulli which he knew of thanks to a friend he made in the military. Within a short period of time he would become the head chef of the restaurant in 1985.
In 1986, El Bulli, under the direction of Adrià, established something that would later serve as his trademark in following years: the restaurant would close for six months (from October 1 to Abril 1). These months coincided with the ebb of clients (this is an area of high summer tourist traffic) and allowed him and his staff to research and elaborate new creations for the next season.
In 1990 Ferran Adrià followed in the footsteps of the French Nouvelle Cuisine movement. He travelled to France to continue perfectioning his particular culinary vision. In 1994 he created a new dish: mesestra de verduras en texturas (vegetable soup in textures). This was the beginning of an revolutionary movement in the kitchen and not just in Spain, but in the world.
In 1999, the weekly magazine, El Pais Semanal, put Adrià on the cover and stating that he was the "best chef in the world." In 2003, he landed on the cover of the Sunday New York Times. One year later, Le Monde also placed him on the newspaper's cover along with a detailed article. That same year, Time Magazine placed him on the list of the world's 100 most Influential people.
In 2005, the Camilo José Cela University created the Ferrán Adrià Professor of Gastronomic Culture and Food Science.
In 2002, El Bulli would be named the Best Restaurant in the World. This Award would be earned again in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Winning in this way has not been achieved by any other restaurant to date.
In the years El Bulli was operating it wasn’t only a restaurant with a nearly impossible to reserve reservation list, it wsa also a creative factory. Every year El Bulli published books related to the Adrià's cooking that were an immediate success. Spanish public television produced a 10-hour documentary titled El Bulli: The Story of a Dream , in which the final episode titled A day in El Bulli shows the viewer the frenetic experience of working one day in the kitchen of the best restaurant in the world.
French composer, Bruno Mantovani composed a 29 minute work dedicated to the experience he had at El Bulli and has been interpreted by the Orchestre de Paris. Le Livre des illusions (Hommage à Ferran Adrià) began at a table in El Bulli where his meal turned into a sensory overload of flavors and smells. "When I ate at El Bulli, I thought about my meal in musical terms and took notes about everything I ate. I had written an earlier piece inspired in a wine tasting, but this was the first time I used food as my inspiration."
Ferran Adrià's influence and reputation have reached heights that few chefs have attained, if ever: Ambassador for the Marca España, Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts, Honorary Doctorate of Chemistry from the University of Barcelona, Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the University of Aberdeen and the list goes on. Adrià has appeared in an episode of The Simpsons and even voiced a demanding French customer at the beginning of the Spanish version of Ratatouille. Adrià is quite a character and, above all, a renaissance man.