A birthday party for The 50 Best

Talk show and tapas in Barcelona for the 15th anniversary of the award. Spain wants to win again in 2018 in Bilbao. Meanwhile Bottura...

14-07-2017

A souvenir photo on June the 27th at the end of a talk show on the future of gastronomy in Barcelona. All dedicated to the World's 50 Best Restaurant. Left  to right: Joan RocaRenè RedzepiMassimo BotturaFerran Adrià and Will Guidara. At the time of the photo,  Daniel Humm, who guides Eleven Madison Park in New York with  Guidara had already left

An entire day in Barcelona, on a Tuesday in June, the 27th, all dedicated to the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, all to celebrate their 15th anniversary: first a visit to the  El Bulli  laboratory with  Ferran Adrià; then a talkshow at the Antigua Fabrica Estrella Damm again with the Catalan chef, who was 5 times number one in the world – followed by René Redzepi, four, Joan Roca, two, Massimo Bottura, one, in 2016 in New York, like  Daniel Humm and Will Guidara last April in Melbourne. American  Thomas Keller, first in 2004, and English  Heston Blumenthal, who won the following year, did not come. And after using my hands and mouth to write and speak, the same came useful to celebrate a lunch marked by tapas on the terrace of  W Barcelona in Barceloneta.

Spain was shining, with massive investments so as to make sure that a Spanish chef will be back at number one. In Australia, the Roca brothers were third (and  Bottura was second), too little. Hence the Basque Country will host the award giving ceremony in 2018 between San Sebastian and Bilbao, and Barcelona and Catalunia hosted this party

Massimo Bottura

Massimo Bottura

with important invitations, especially among the one thousand voters (they were around seventy, fifteen years ago) because one should judge the restaurant, and not just the patron-chef. And you have to visit the place. Dinner-events and pop-up restaurants around the globe are not enough. They give colour, create the news, you can enjoy them but they cannot count when voting. We're not playing in the backyard where kids make up their own rules.

All this activity in terms of regional-national systems and lobbies (in a positive, American sense) make  Bottura bitter, as he knows very well you need to be there, with facts and not just simple words, often void, if you want to be a protagonist in the global challenge.

Adrià played the magical flute first at home, then in public. In the words of Joan Roca: «Thanks Ferran, you're the number one of all, among many number ones, and you'll always be». After closing  El Bulli in July 2011 (six years have already gone by,

Ferran Adrià

Ferran Adrià

it's incredible), between the late 2018 and early 2019 he wants to open on its ashes, also in Cala Montjoi, the foundation, a centre of comprehensive 360° innovation. «We'll research all sorts of topics, ready to accept every offer as long as it's legal. But the real heritage of the restaurant is made of the 2500 people who worked there, the so called bullinianos. In 1999, for instance,  RedzepiBottura and Grant Achatz were there, and even I was an intern there earlier on».

The chef from Modena agreed: «Ferran was a very harsh boss. We were working 17 hours per day but we all had the strong feeling we were changing the world». This helps not making you feel the effort, which would be intolerable if you thought it was useless. You can understand well what  Bulli used to be when you walk around the laboratory, where the Catalan chef is archiving everything that belonged to the restaurant, including the first service of soup serving bowls, cutlery and silver trays, a classic luxury that is opposite to what we've been used to for the past twenty years thanks to his very revolution.

And on the 27th the theme was the  Future of Gastronomy which Bulli knew well and I would have liked this to be the focus of all the speeches, not just the one given by  Bottura, with his usual strong social vision and appeal, and of  Redzepi, whose invitation to eat nature inside and around cities – Vild mad that is to say wild food – is an ideal return to the caves. Between pulling out roots from the soil and pulling out foie gras from the geese there are centuries of authentich thought-after cuisine, popular and noble, ephimeral and concrete, more or less craveable, new ideas as well as a continued take on what's known, an evergreen.