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What is Ferran Adria up to next?
June 16, 2011 9:27 AM   Subscribe

El Bulli is closing and Ferran Adria looks forward to...Pepsi Co.?

This is my first post. Please be nice!
posted by bquarters (50 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can't do it. Lord, I just can't do it.
posted by Spatch at 9:37 AM on June 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pepsi Bulli? Bulli Peps?
posted by mkb at 9:41 AM on June 16, 2011


Pepsi Bulli?
posted by jacquilynne at 9:41 AM on June 16, 2011


Hey Nate Appleman (A16 and SPRQ in SF - now in NY) has been working at a Chipotle
posted by bitdamaged at 9:49 AM on June 16, 2011


hey the man's gotta pay rent, or something
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:51 AM on June 16, 2011


you know that constant day dream you have about first contact? The one where you are singled out of the hordes by ET because of some quirk of fate or genetic anomaly, yada, yada, yada.
Well, the only chef in that day dream was Ferran Adria.....I mean I can't imagine anyone catering to ET but him. In a weird way this doesn't surprise me at all.
posted by Wilder at 9:55 AM on June 16, 2011


alvalle gazpacho is not bad, actually. Plus the man loves R&D, so I guess at some level this makes sense.
posted by valdesm at 9:57 AM on June 16, 2011


Good riddance.

El Bulli : Food :: Lady GaGa : Fashion

I'll disagree with the very first sentence in the article. El Bulli is not the most influential restaurant in the world. That would be the McDonalds Test Kitchen/Lab.

I sincerely doubt that one thing that has been pioneered or done at El Bulli will ever have even one iota of impact on the food eaten by normal folks who have never spent more than $3,000 on a single meal.

Just like Lady GaGa's meat dress will never influence anything that I could conceivably ever wear, El Bulli's cooking will almost certainly never influence what I eat.

The molecular gastronomy fad has always been particularly puzzling to me, in that it is intensely focused on the form and presentation of the food, rather than its taste or sustenance. Like modern art, it's seeking profundity in all the wrong places.

Q: What is art without talent or aesthetics? What is food without nourishment or taste?
A: Shit. Expensive shit, at that.

That's not to say that "food revolutions" don't happen. However, they don't occur with much fanfare, or even anybody noticing. 99 times out of 100, the world works by evolution, rather than revolution.

(That said, I have seen the future, and there is lots of quinoa in it.)

That said, that "Quantum Kitchen" show on TV is hilarious, because the chefs are so hopelesly inept. It's like watching a Gordon Ramsay show in reverse -- everyone is yelling at the host of the show, because he's an asshole and terrible at his job. I'm not sure if any of this is intentional.

posted by schmod at 9:59 AM on June 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I hope that if and when I grow up and become crazy successful...I NEVER end up selling out so bad that I look like this.

What a tool.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:03 AM on June 16, 2011


From the article: Josean Martínez Alija (famous for groundbreaking work with vegetables)

That parenthetical works with any trade or profession in the world. Sculpture, fashion, space exploration... there are endless possibilities.
posted by ryanrs at 10:04 AM on June 16, 2011


Sigh. I guess I really shouldn't turn my nose up at the work of some of the most accomplished chefs or restaurateurs in the world. I certainly wouldn't pass up the opportunity of a (free) meal at El Bulli if it was offered to me.

However, the NYT's tireless praise of the place is a bit wearing, and reminds me of just how out of touch that paper can be.

(Or, maybe there really are enough remaining NYC socialites out there to keep the paper afloat. It'd be nice to have a middle-ground between the Times and the Post for those of us who are neither rich nor stupid...)

Can The Onion please launch an everyman's food section, a la The AV Club? The world needs more people/publications like Cooks Illustrated, Serious Eats, and Alton Brown, and less of the elitist crap in the mainstream papers.

posted by schmod at 10:04 AM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


bquarters, nice post.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:04 AM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


ryanrs: "From the article: Josean Martínez Alija (famous for groundbreaking work with vegetables)"

No, seriously. One time, he built a shovel entirely out of carrots.
posted by schmod at 10:05 AM on June 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


schmod, never been to El Bulli, but I think you have your prizes wrong. AFAIK a meal at el bulli used to average 300$ (depending on the wine which can be expensive but is your choice). It's pretty affordable for an impossible to book table. Also, I think his cuisine is precisely all about taste.

hal_c_on, I hope you know that picture is a blatant photoshop
posted by valdesm at 10:07 AM on June 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


I hope that if and when I grow up and become crazy successful...I NEVER end up selling out so bad that I look like this.

What a tool.


Pretty sure that picture's shopped. I can tell from some of the pixels, etc.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:10 AM on June 16, 2011


El Bulli is not the most influential restaurant in the world. That would be the McDonalds Test Kitchen/Lab.

totally true. if anything el bulli is in the business of convincing gourmands to eat things originally created for the industrial food industry
posted by JPD at 10:17 AM on June 16, 2011


Hey Nate Appleman (A16 and SPRQ in SF - now in NY) has been working at a Chipotle

Yeah, I think Chipotle is going to be rolling out some sort of chicken chorizo he introduced.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:17 AM on June 16, 2011


Foamers gotta foam.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:20 AM on June 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


GenjiandProust: "Foamers gotta foam"

Platers gonna plate.
posted by boo_radley at 10:29 AM on June 16, 2011 [22 favorites]


> What a tool.

Yeah, letting some stranger photoshop his face onto some race car driver's body like that. Har.
posted by ardgedee at 10:30 AM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sincerely doubt that one thing that has been pioneered or done at El Bulli will ever have even one iota of impact on the food eaten by normal folks who have never spent more than $3,000 on a single meal.

What? No. I am a normal person who has never come close to spending that much on a meal, and I have eaten at restaurants that use techniques invented at El Bulli.
posted by rtha at 10:36 AM on June 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know, I think that molecular gastronomy is kind of neat - like something out of mid-period Samuel Delany, Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand or something. Setting aside the financial issues involved, what's wrong with spending time creating this kind of thing? (Unless we're going to argue that this fellow should be out staffing the soup kitchen instead of being a professional chef, etc.)

I am intrigued by the mention of his rivalry with the anti-fascist chef, though. Does that passage imply that Adria was supporter of Franco?
posted by Frowner at 10:41 AM on June 16, 2011


Modernist cuisine = 7-11 snack food. Makes complete sense.
posted by stbalbach at 10:42 AM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's like what Haute Couture does for fashion - techniques and styles filter down and through to general mass consumption.
posted by gomichild at 10:45 AM on June 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


gomichild: It's like what Haute Couture does for fashion - techniques and styles filter down and through to general mass consumption.

Trickle Down Cuisine?
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:50 AM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sincerely doubt that one thing that has been pioneered or done at El Bulli will ever have even one iota of impact on the food eaten by normal folks who have never spent more than $3,000 on a single meal.

Possibly not at the $5 level, but you don't have to go to far up before things start getting a bit... foamy. Moto is a good example of molecular gastronomy at a more palatable (see what I did there?) price.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:51 AM on June 16, 2011


schmod: I assume you've heard Lady Gaga's music and seen pictures of her.

Can you tell us about the actual Adria-derived food you've eaten, and your thoughts about it, just so we know your opinion ("intensely focused on the form and presentation of the food, rather than its taste or sustenance") isn't complete bullshit?
posted by neroli at 11:10 AM on June 16, 2011


Well, the only chef in that day dream was Ferran Adria.....I mean I can't imagine anyone catering to ET but him. In a weird way this doesn't surprise me at all.

That's because he actually is an alien. All those edible foams make a lot of sense when you're born on a gas giant.

I've actually eaten there and we spent about 500 euro a person including wine. Not cheap, but hardly $3,000.

Surely his new gig with PepsiCo is an indication that he's not an elitist snob? (and the reason El Bulli never really made much money was that he didn't want to charge people more to guarantee a booking, which he easily could have done).
posted by atrazine at 11:15 AM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does that passage imply that Adria was supporter of Franco?

Considering that Adrià was 13 when Franco died, that would surprise me.
posted by Skeptic at 11:21 AM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some Adria trickle-down (non-restaurant):

Docsconz
Ideas in Food
Playing with Fire and Water
posted by neroli at 11:23 AM on June 16, 2011


schmod: "I certainly wouldn't pass up the opportunity of a (free) meal at El Bulli if it was offered to me. "

Are you kidding? I would eat there at twice the price if I could. And they could have priced it to meet what the market would have paid. For the insane amount of demand that comes with being literally the best restaurant in the world, they kept their prices seriously reasonable.

El Bulli wasn't some kind of "oh let's spend stupid amounts of money because we can" kind of restaurant. Adria is a guy who wants people to eat his food.
posted by danny the boy at 11:36 AM on June 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


The molecular gastronomy fad has always been particularly puzzling to me, in that it is intensely focused on the form and presentation of the food, rather than its taste or sustenance.

Well, I can see why you find molecular gastronomy so puzzling, then, if you've anthropomorphized it to the point of thinking that "it" determines how your dinner tastes.

The insistence on including a slice of under-ripe and flavorless slice of tomato on damn near ever single sandwich in this country is a focus on form and presentation over taste and sustenance, too, but I'm not blaming the Earl of Sandwich for it.

Cooking has always explored how form and presentation influence taste and sustenance. That's why ingredients may be chopped, minced, blended, kneaded...cooked via poaching, broiling, sauteeing, braising, baking, roasting, steaming, frying...altered by pickling, brining, smoking, drying, fermentation.

And sure, add sous-vide and spherification to the arsenal. And if your dinner sucks, blame the chef.
posted by desuetude at 11:43 AM on June 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


A metafilter member sent me and my wife to Jose Andres' minibar (Andres trained at El Bulli, and the food is of a similar fashion) as a wedding present. It's pricey, but not the most expensive restaurant tab I've ever seen (that was at Inn at Little Washington (which I paid)). Yeah, a big night out, but within reach of most folks who engage in any level of fine dining.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:45 AM on June 16, 2011


I tried to get a reservation for my 10th wedding anniversary at El Bulli. They said no. Ah well, now they're gone, I guess I'll shoot for a reservation at Noma.
posted by pashdown at 11:56 AM on June 16, 2011


Pepsi Bulli?

Wooly Bulli!

posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:03 PM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that things like Appleman's work at Quizno's and Adria's partnership with PepsiCo are nothing but good, much like the yeoman's work Jamie Oliver's done on reforming the school lunch, both in the UK and the US.

All of these efforts seek to break the idea that cheap, fast food has to be unhealthy for you.

Basically, if you want to affect diet and nutrition, you can either try to get people to stop eating fast food, or you can try making the food healthier. Achieving the former seems vanishingly unlikely. Maybe Appleman, Adria and Oliver can achieve the latter.
posted by scrump at 12:07 PM on June 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


If Pepsi implement even 1/100th of the ideas he will fire their way, mass-produced snack food is about to climb out of the primordial soup. And crackers.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 12:19 PM on June 16, 2011




I just finished reading this book about El Bulli and it was pretty interesting; you can definitely count me among those who would eat there at any price I could afford. Although the restaurant is gone, its website is still up. The catalogue of their dishes is really interesting.
posted by TedW at 12:43 PM on June 16, 2011


I think this is really funny. Adria stole from Pepsi et al. That's essentially what MG is. All of these techniques - not invented by Adria, invented by food scientists in labs working for companies like Pepsi.

SV - invented for the mass catering industry in 60's or 70's
Foams - just an application of emulsifants used in a very long laundry list packaged foods. Same with all of the gelling agents.

Activa - meat glue - loved by MG guys - originally created to make surimi.

I mean this isn't to say that MG done well isn't a lot of fun to eat - I've been to many to the temples and enjoyed it, but lets be honest here - Adria going to pepsi is all marketing. And god bless him for cashing in - no big chefs become rich just off of their restaurants - at least Adria is honest enough to cash out all the way instead of the US celebrity chef who is in his kitchen 3 times a month, but gives the impression he's at the pass 6 days a week.
posted by JPD at 12:43 PM on June 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd add that I like the food enough that I actually got engaged after lunch at an MG place. But MG is just applying the same evil industrial techniques you probably decry when its your lot TGI Friday's doing it, just done at a much much higher level, with much better ingredients (although generally speaking in the Michelin stratosphere, the MG places tend to be the least ingredient driven)
posted by JPD at 12:47 PM on June 16, 2011


I'm glad for Adria too. I remember reading that El Bulli never made money in itself; that it stayed afloat by selling cookbooks. And it's true--all the ingredients he uses were pioneered by corporations. He just deploys them to challenge his patrons instead of serve them homogenized food. The man deserves to earn some money, and I would be more than happy to try whatever he can coax PepsiCo into producing.

And I wouldn't say his type of cooking is about form and presentation over flavor. Instead it's about rethinking how flavor can be experienced. Or just finding new ways of doing things. In the Modernist Cuisine book (not his book, but written in that vein), you can find a super easy recipe for using a pressure cooker to make a roux. Absolutely not the normal way to make it, but so much more convenient and hours faster.

There's another recipe for microwave mini cakes that I'm itching to try. Instead of using baking soda/powder as the leavening, the recipe employs a whipped cream charger, which I happen to own. This is so happening in my kitchen, asap.
posted by erinfern at 12:57 PM on June 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


My problem with a lot of MG techniques is about the flavor. I've eaten a lot of really expensive SV protein through he years, and I can tell your right away if it was done SV. I understand the appeal to restaurants where consistent processes and timing matter - but to me a SV duck breast or a SV piece of steak just don't compare to traditional methods that concentrate juices and flavors via evaporation.
posted by JPD at 1:04 PM on June 16, 2011


Fizzy Pepsi, Wulli Bulli.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:21 PM on June 16, 2011


JPD: " lets be honest here - Adria going to pepsi is all marketing"

Marketing to... who? Which Pepsi product is going to get a sales boost from Adria's involvement? What's the overlap between people who know his name and the demographic of any of Pepsi's brands? That is to say, I don't think it's wrong to think (or hope) that most of his value to Pepsi would be in taking those industrial food processes he applied to haute cuisine and bringing those ideas back into the mass produced fold.

Not everyone can go to El Bulli but almost anyone can buy a bag of chips beetroot ribbons with vinegar powder.
posted by danny the boy at 2:07 PM on June 16, 2011


Aw man, if they close then I won't be able to torture myself with never-realised hopes of one day going there.

Altho no discussion of El Bulli is complete without this.
posted by FatherDagon at 2:28 PM on June 16, 2011


He's already had a deal with Pepsi"

Ferran Adrià, whose restaurant El Bulli in Spain has been named best in the world five times by Restaurant Magazine, will work with PepsiCo to help develop new methods and concepts for creative food innovation. This partnership follows an existing successful relationship between the two parties which began in 2005 and involved Chef Adrià’s consultation on PepsiCo Spain’s Alvalle brand of chilled vegetable soups and Lay's Artesanas 100% olive oil among others
posted by Ideefixe at 2:39 PM on June 16, 2011


And since the place has been running at a loss for a while, he's going to turn it into a non-profit. Lots of famous places actually don't make money, and the chefs do consulting outside to generate some cash. (I think Adria did a lot of work in Japan, while El Bulli was running. )

From an FT story in 2007

"Mr Adrià has created a line of chocolates for Nestlé, and snacks and flavours for Pepsico. He has worked on projects for Lavazza, the Italian coffee purveyors, and United Biscuits. "

So this isn't quite the crisis of art situation that we might have been led to believe by the PEPSI scare stuff.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:51 PM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


>The molecular gastronomy fad has always been particularly puzzling to me, in that it is intensely focused on the form and presentation of the food, rather than its taste or sustenance.

The closest thing I've experienced to El Bulli would probably be eating at the Fat Duck, and I find it very hard to square my experiences there with what you've said. Sure, there's a lot of attention to presentation, but what really struck me was the utterly mind-boggling level of obsessive geeky attention paid to the experience as a whole, and the taste in particular.

One of the Fat Duck's signature dishes is the bacon and egg ice cream, but what doesn't get mentioned quite so often is that it's actually just one component of an entire course designed to be really like breakfast except made out of very unbreakfasty things. The waiters wander up to the table and say "Good morning!" even though it's about 10pm; you have a beautiful cup of tea (that just happens to be both hot and cold at the same time); you have a bowl of very cornflaky cornflakes (that are actually made of parsnips, as is the milk); you try some bacon which is actually almost like candy but nonetheless tastes more like bacon than any real bacon you've ever eaten, and then you try the ice cream which is simultaneously the nicest, smoothest ice cream and also the most perfect bacon and scrambled eggs you've ever tasted. (Years later, if the matter ever comes up in conversation between the people I dined with, we still kind of glaze over briefly and mumble "oh man, bacon and egg ice cream...".) The general aim seemed to be to induce some sort of intense Proustian flashback during each course, to something like having breakfast with your grandmother when you're six years old, or to walking along the sea shore, or finding a quiet clearing in the woods in the autumn, or visiting a sweet shop when you're on holiday, or whatever, and it's all done through these really ingenious combinations of taste and texture. Sure, if you're after nothing more than a filling meal, you're wasting your time (and a lot of money) going to the Fat Duck, but if you want to experience someone messing with your mind through the medium of food, it's unrivalled. It's the closest thing I've experienced to visiting Willy Wonka's factory.

I think one of the general themes of molecular gastronomy is that one should try to understand, from a scientific and technological point of view, why exactly ones food tastes and smells and feels the way it does. It's not sufficient to know that beating egg whites in a copper bowl makes a better meringue, you need to understand that it's because of the copper ions stabilizing the foam by preventing the proteins from bonding too tightly. It's not sufficient to know that browning onions makes them tastier; you need to know that the tastiness comes from the products of the Maillard reaction, and on further consideration you realize that the reaction is promoted by alkaline conditions, so you can speed up cooking onions by adding a tiny bit of baking soda. Your most well-thumbed volume isn't a cookbook at all, it's a copy of McGee.

The stereotypical molecular gastronomy technique of making thing X look and taste like completely different thing Y is about more than just showing off this technical ability. If you try one of these dishes, you can't help but start thinking about food in a different way: what exactly is it that makes bacon so tasty? How on earth did the chef manage to make these seemingly completely dissonant flavours work so beautifully together? What was it about the chips I ate as a kid that makes me so nostalgic, and how can I replicate this? Sure, the actual techniques used were developed for use in high volume low-nutrition foods like soft drinks or cheap bread, but in the right hands they can transport you to places you'd forgotten even existed.

> Like modern art, it's seeking profundity in all the wrong places.

Like modern art, it's a medium, and like modern art, it can deeply enrich ones experience of life without having to be straightforwardly profound.
posted by doop at 4:34 PM on June 16, 2011 [25 favorites]


i am so sad. i always thought i'd get there! lo siento!
posted by honey badger at 8:36 AM on June 17, 2011


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