Saveur co-founder and former Gourmet magazine columnist Andrews (The Country Cooking of Ireland, 2009, etc.) chronicles and applauds the career of Ferran Adrià, a chef whose El Bulli restaurant became a lighthouse of innovation and experimentation.
The author doesn’t conceal his admiration and awe of his subject. He continually refers to Adrià as a genius and the most influential chef in the world—perhaps in history. Andrews received Adrià’s permission to write his story—though Adrià publishes his own books and produces numerous videos about his culinary philosophy and practices—and spent two years with enviable access to the chef and to his remote restaurant near the town of Rosas in the Catalonia region of Spain. The author also interviewed many of Adrià’s friends, colleagues and rivals. Early in the text, Andrews describes a 40-course meal he ate in El Bulli—it takes nearly eight pages to mention them all—a meal that will be among the last the restaurant will serve in its present incarnation. Andrews then relates the history of the restaurant, telling how Adrià began his career as a dishwasher but studied classic recipes and techniques. While in the army, he began cooking for an admiral, hooked up with future celebrity chef (and now friend) Fermí Puig and went to work for El Bulli with Puig in the late 1980s. The author emphasizes Adrià’s ferocious work ethic, his eagerness to share what he has learned and his explorations of the arts and sciences. Andrews tells how Adrià eventually became an owner of El Bulli and how he expanded the business into research, catering and other enterprises. Throughout, Andrews staunchly defends his subject against all detractors.
A wildly partisan paean to Adrià and a celebration of culinary wonders.