The first day I arrived in London I saw a poster in the Underground for an exhibit on Ferran Adrià and the Art of Food at Somerset House. I grabbed a shot as a reminder...
I think this was the most exciting, inspiring thing I saw in London.
It certainly made me wish I'd attended a meal at his restaurant el Bullie near Barcelona but that was no easy matter.
2,000,000 reservations came in for the just the 800 available places each year.
Ferran Adria took over as head chef in 1987. He was deeply influenced by an encounter with French chef Jacques Maximin (head chef at Rech by the way). He learnt to stop copying and to start creating. To developer dishes that were wholly his own, based on his own traditional culinary heritage of Catalonia and later all of Spain. To these he brought elegance, refinement and originality.
This wall charts the dishes created each year of elBullie's existence. It closed in July of 2011. The retrospective showcases the art of cuisine and cuisine as art by taking a behind-the-scenes look at the legendary laboratory and kitchen of the internationally renowned restaurant, which delighted diners in Cala Montjoi, a small bay on the Catalan coast near Roses, for over 50 years.
The Somerset exhibition features in-depth, multimedia displays of each of the essential ingredients that make up the culinary creative mastermind of Ferran Adrià and his team.
How the dishes were conceived and created through all the processes...
Research with handwritten notes and hand-drawn sketches..
Adria's own notebooks included.
He introduced the 'tapas' concept to dining - a series of small plates to bring different tastes to the table always with the goal to create:
Surprise, humor, irony, playfulness, touch, sound, smell and sight.
Preparation for each dish was plotted using plasticine models
To serve as a means for quality control of color, portion size and position on the plate, and for the specially-designed utensils used.
Working like a sculpture with maquets to finally finished product.
A sample dining table from elBulli
With an overhead video showing how a meal evolved from start to finish.
The last course was this box of chocolates! What can one say?
For 5 years, elBulli was considered the world's finest restaurant and Ferran Adria the world's best chef. It was basically a talent factory...it's therefore no surprise to find that among the chefs of the 6 best restaurants in the world, 5 did training at elBulli. Joan Roca, Grant Achatz, Jose Andres, Massimo Bottura and many others. The language of the new style of cuisine was developed there and is now spoken all over the world.
The founding owners, the Shillings, kept French Bulldogs and referred to them as 'bullies' so i.e. the restaurant's name.
It's hard to put into words how inspiring this exhibit is. If you're in London do NOT miss this exhibit at Somerset House!