Ferran Adriài – Cooking in Progress
[Catalan] Ferran Adriài – Cooking in Progress [ 2 CD – 2 AVI ]
Three-star chef Ferran Adrià is widely considered the best, most innovative and craziest chef in the world. In his kitchen, that which was once familiar disintegrates. Each year his restaurant El Bulli closes for half a year – time for Adrià and his team to retire to his Barcelona cooking laboratory to create the new menu for the coming season. Anything goes – except copying oneself.
Pictures are taken down and cutlery wrapped up in cellophane foil, as a delivery van is loaded with machines and boxes. In the tiny cove of Montjoi below, waves pound the beach. We are at El Bulli, witnessing the closing of probably the most famous restaurant in the world. No, it’s not forever, just until next season. Each winter the restaurant closes, and Ferran Adrià, Oriol Castro and Eduard Xatruch cloister themselves in their experimental kitchen in Barcelona for half a year, to create their new menu for the following season.”Creativity means not copying.” Ferran Adrià and his team have made Jacques Maximin’s aphorism the motto of their everyday pursuits.
The film El Bulli – Cooking in Progress is the close observation of that quest – from initial experimentation to the premiere of the finished dish. In the course of that process, however, many an ingredient is examined in a totally new way. What novel product can one derive from the sweet potato? Taste and texture are systematically analyzed: by boiling, roasting, frying, steaming – vacuumizing, spherifying, freeze-drying – and then, tasting. Ideas emerge, are discussed and, finally, all the results, whether good or bad, are thoroughly documented – on a laptop beside the cooking spoon. After all, research means to examine closely, with an understanding of fundamental principles. And research means work, sometimes until exhaustion.
Ideas don’t usually fall from the sky, they evolve in the diffuse realm between the intentional and the accidental, experience and the unfamiliar. Then, come summer, everything changes. Within no time, a cold restaurant must be thrown into full gear – by a brigade of 35 new cooks from around the world, who here, on the Catalan Costa Brava, are entering uncharted culinary territory. Of course, not everyone is up to speed right out of the gate; and the previously so even-tempered Oriol is forced, now and then, to raise his voice to the group to drive home the strict and hierarchical structure. Meanwhile, Ferran Adrià puts the finishing touches on the new dishes, which are already served on opening evening, in addition to the menu from the previous year.
This is when the defining decisions are made: How will each dish look, how will it be served and, above all, in what order? Which filling goes inside the ravioli, whose pasta disintegrates as you dip it in water? And where do the small ice cubes go – with the tiny tangerines or the vacuumized champignon in hazelnut oil?Even on opening evening, there’s a curious premiere – when a cocktail is served composed only of water, hazelnut oil and salt. In the experimental kitchen, it had already been tested by Eduard Xatruch, and the simple principle and silky sensation of oil in one’s mouth were just what had convinced Ferran. Yet later, during a course for the new cooks, he would ask himself in jest, “And what were they serving at El Bulli?” Only to instantly answer: “Water!” Great ideas are usually simple and autonomous, beyond what is known and familiar. El Bulli is at once complex and simple, Ferran says. And perhaps there’s only fitting answer to the question, “So what is the film El Bulli – Cooking in Progress about?” – “Water, oil and salt!”
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