2011

El Bulli Cooking In Progress

Director

Gereon Wetzel

Location Filmed

Spain

Movie Synopsis

A nice looking glass into one of the intellectual giants of modern society, this film does justice to the creative process of Ferran Adrià . It also gives insight (for those not in “the business”) of how much collaboration, vision and dedication it takes to pull off high end cuisine.

I never really took this direction, in the food that I cook. Avant-garde cuisine was just coming into vogue when I was in New York, but few people were using these new techniques (except for sous vide). Once I started cooking Latin food, which was followed by a move to Asia, I lost much interest in haute cuisine. Though that is not to say that I lost respect for it (I did it exclusively for the first half of my career for God’s sake).

Over the years I have spent more money on (than I care to think about) sitting in the royal seats of gastronomy. One trip to Paris in the early days of my career, I knocked off 18 Michelin stars in 10 days of dining. When done right, I still find fine dining an experience that is delightful and satisfying.

The thing I hold “El Bulli” in highest reverence for, is dethroning France; as being the only place that one might consider having a gastronomic experience. Chef Ferran kicked France in the ass and as a result; actually made their food better. Oftentimes, when one is “on top” for too long (as France was) the edges begin to dull-which is what many of us thought-as Spain was gaining steam as the culinary giant it has become.

“There is a difference between creation and production” – Chef Ferran

Note: I never got the chance to dine at El Bulli. I have been to Spain 3 times; eating and staging at temples of gastronomy. However, I don’t like to wait in line and the line to get into El Bulli wrapped around the world. Also, as a movement, I respect it for how it mixed up the culinary world, but I find that techniques and flavors are best used when woven into the tapestry of that which is traditional (method/tastes).

Too often chefs have bought the books, know how to use the distillation devices and metric scales; but get lost in technology and forget to make food that tastes good. Case in point: I have eaten at 6 “molecular” establishments around the world and have left each one hungry, angry or disappointed. Those places are: Blue Elephant in Beijing, Bo Innovation in Hong Kong, La Broche in Madrid, Tapas Bar in Tokyo, RyuGin in Tokyo and Alinea in Chicago. There were a few good dishes along the way; but attitude, lack of hospitality and food that just did not satiate seemed to be the theme of each menu/experience. I wound up eating some dumplings after my experience at Blue Elephant; arguing with that yo-yo at Bo Innovation then going out for some crispy pork belly; eating some churros and hot chocolate after La Broche; eating ramen after Tapas Bar; eating a steak sandwich at my old restaurant (The Oak Door) after RyuGin and sharing a pizza with my sister-in-law after Alinea. Give me food that’s not cooked in a bag, by a chef that has learned the craft of fire management (not the digital readout of a circulator) and I will be a loyal customer for ever.

Watch this tasty flick and respect the process and craft-please!

Additional Credits

None

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