Adrià is starting over in 2019 from 1846 recipes

They’ve created as many recipes in over 20 years at elBulli. In Grinzane, the tribute paid by Langhe and Roero to the Catalan genius

15-06-2018

Ferran Adrià celebrated at the castle in Grinzane Cavour; to his left, Terry Giacomello. He’s the current chef at restaurant Inkiostro in Parma, and spent 4 years at elBulli in Rosas, the famous restaurant of the Catalan chef

A total of 24 hours and not one minute wasted for Ferran Adrià. On Saturday 9th of June in Torino there was the opening to the press of Condividere, the restaurant created inside the Nuvola Lavazza and handed to Federico Zanasi, as Carlo Passera told us here. On Sunday, the tribute given to the Catalan genius by Langhe, Roero and Monferrato at the castle of Grinzane Cavour. This as part of Dialoghi del gusto nei paesaggi Unesco.

As soon as Ferran got his fourth portion of Agnolotti del plin alla curdunà made by Piera Ciriofrom Madonna della Neve in Cessole, he said his goodbyes. And off to the airport in Caselle, after explaining that those minuscule ravioli served without sauce on a napkin, called curdunà, perfectly showed how culinary art prevailed over French centennial fine dining.

The lovely Agnolotti del plin alla curdunà served during the lunch in honour of Ferran Adrià on Sunday 10th June at the castle of Grinzane Cavour

The lovely Agnolotti del plin alla curdunà served during the lunch in honour of Ferran Adrià on Sunday 10th June at the castle of Grinzane Cavour

Ferranturned 56 last May and closed elBulli in Cala Montijoi in 2011. This said, it’s striking to think that most of the people who participated in the two events, especially the one in Torino, have never dined in the restaurant that has been an emblem for the global restaurant scene for 20 years, between the Nineties and the Zero years. After all, even Zanasi never ate there and this is an important detail. After all, we’re used to listing all the great chefs whose greatness was also due to their experience in the restaurant on the Costa Brava. One above all: Massimo Bottura.

Souvenir photo, and lots of cheering for the people who designed the lunch in honour of Ferran Adrià on Sunday 10th June. Left to right: Marc Lanteri, resident chef at the castle of Grinzane Cavour, Francesca Cirio, 82, cook at restaurant Madonna della Neve in Cessole, whom everyone calls Piera. And finally her son Piermassimo Cirio

Souvenir photo, and lots of cheering for the people who designed the lunch in honour of Ferran Adrià on Sunday 10th June. Left to right: Marc Lanteri, resident chef at the castle of Grinzane Cavour, Francesca Cirio, 82, cook at restaurant Madonna della Neve in Cessole, whom everyone calls Piera. And finally her son Piermassimo Cirio

Around 2500 cooks have acquired experience in this magical place. Mostly simply as interns, while the best were later hired. «I also arrived there as an intern», recalled Ferran, and it’s true. Back in 1984. Two summers later, he became chef. A striking beginning. We mentioned Zanasi, the “bullino” number 2501, essential «because – as Adrià repeated multiple times – it’s a sign of continuity beyond the experiences of the time. This is an important value».

Even the chef from Emilia takes this seriously: «I was struck by one fact above all: Ferran asks you the reason behind every ingredient, pairing, and step. He asks the logic behind every choice. There’s no space for elusiveness». Yet this is the future of this new establishment. At the castle in Grinzane, the Catalan recalled plenty of memories, a sort of pilgrimage that started in 1995 with people like Carlo PetriniGiorgio GrigliatiBob Noto who before going to heaven recommended Zanasi as the best chef for the Condividereproject. And then there’s Stefano Bonilli who «in 1997 organised a trip for 25 cooks to Cala Montijoi and then put me on the cover of a famous issue by Gambero Rosso, holding a syphon. My first cover abroad».

Working at elBulli, opened six months every year, from early in the spring to late in the summer, meant you could never stop, said Ferran, «we shared all our knowledge. It was not like with my first experiences in France, where I worked hard but no secret was ever unveiled». Of France, he recalled the four centuries of creative monopoly, interrupted by the arrival of elBulli: «The first step was publishing El Bulli: el sabor del Mediterráneoin 1993. I found only one copy on sale online for 1200 euros. It was the first time fine dining included popular dishes such as romesco sauce and gazpacho. 

The dining room at Condividere, the restaurant created by Lavazza in their new headquarters in Torino

The dining room at Condividere, the restaurant created by Lavazza in their new headquarters in Torino

Four years later, in 1997, came the creative chaos, pure avant-garde that was no longer subjected to simple assessments of goodness, to people saying if they liked it or didn’t. One could even say they didn’t like a dish, and that they would have made it differently, but that’s how we made it because that’s how we had imagined it. Revolution advances and kills, it creates new roads for those who’ll follow».

At Cala Montijoi everything was new: «Every year, completely new dishes. No other place, even these days, does something like this in the space of 12 months. We’ve counted 1846 dishes, and so, in 2019 in the same place we’ll haveElBulli1846, a restaurant non-restaurant, plus the foundation and a centre for research on innovation, plus Barcelona, plus the encyclopaedia made of 65 books of 600 pages. We closed elBulli because we had explored every boundary and needed to widen our horizon».

Sunset on the hills of the Langhe 

Sunset on the hills of the Langhe 

And soon they’ll start over, leaving ingratitude and meanness behind, ready to respond to what Adrià called jokes: «People said that at elBulli we were more interested in turning ingredients upside down so as to serve special effects, rather than in the quality of the ingredients. Of course I was aiming for a provocation, by serving rabbit brain, but then traditional cuisine is full of revolutions: where’s the meat in a meat stock? Where’s the egg in a mayonnaise and the potatoes in a purée? We must be more careful when discussing the degree of pureness or elaboration of an ingredient».

There would be so many more things to say, what with yesterday’s elBulli and the one to come.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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