Who wants to work with Ferran Adrià?

The great Catalan chef launches a call for aspiring members of the team at ElBulli 1846. Not just chefs: they require different and creative experts

04-02-2019 | 10:00
Ferran Adrià at Madrid Fusión

Ferran Adrià at Madrid Fusión

The expectation was huge for Ferran Adrià’s speech at Madrid Fusión. The great Catalan chef was back on the stage of the Spanish congress after 8 years; the last time, in 2011, he announced that elBulli would close for good a few months later, on the 30th of July. It was to become something different as we have told you previously. However, people already knew that in Madrid, last week, he was to explain another project. On November 29th last year we wrote:

But the attention of Adrià is focused on elBulli 1846 [the number of dishes he created in his restaurant, as well the year Georges Auguste Escoffier was born], the revolutionary project in the location of the elBulli, 6000 square metres dedicated to creativity. «I will only make one presentation, at Madrid Fusión in January». All right, but what is it going to be like? «Something much more important than elBulli itself». Let’s try to explain it to our readers... «It’s not easy. It won’t be a university, nor a business. I’d say it will be a sort of private centre run by the elBullifoundation [the safe storing Adrià’s ideas, funded by Lavazza with Telefonica, CaixaBankand Grifols, the latter represented in Milan by general manager Lluís Garcia] and will become a global centre where innovation experts will be able to research, study, and experiment on creativity and efficiency». They will analyse the methods of innovation rather than innovation itself, so as to determine models that can be exported to other fields. «This though in fact there’s no such thing as one model. We don’t know a thing about the creative process». Excuse me? «I told you, it’s hard to explain. Put it this way, it seems a locura. You’ll see».

Ferran Adrià on November 28th last year during his visit to Identità Golose Milano with Paolo Marchi and Claudio Ceroni

Ferran Adrià on November 28th last year during his visit to Identità Golose Milano with Paolo Marchi and Claudio Ceroni

This is what Adrià told us when he was dining at Identità Golose Milano, the first international hub of gastronomy. And we must say that in the article we wrote on that occasion (see The many things that Ferran Adrià told us about innovation, cooking and the future) we unknowingly anticipated most of the content of his lesson at Madrid Fusión. However, he also gave a few, very interesting, extra details.

Ferran structured his speech following the different sections of elbullifoundation.com. The website of the elBullifoundation is already much richer than just a few months ago and will grow further early in May. So here we are:

  • Bullipedia, a sort of encyclopaedia Britannica of the culinary West, including 35 volumes, the first of which was dedicated to coffee, Coffee Sapiens– we told you about it here Coffee Sapiens: Adrià and Lavazza exploring the frontiers of coffee, and after that they’ve printed two more volumes, one on wine and one on drinks (you can buy them here); the next will be on cocktails and so on, until the end of 2021.

  • Bulligrafía, a museum-archive of elBulli, a space where its heritage can be preserved, presenting all that happened in the restaurant and throughout the entire Spanish avantgarde and beyond over almost three decades, when they transformed the global restaurant scene. It will open in 2022 in Barcelona, but you can visit it online as of May. It will be a sort of library of Alexandria dedicated to contemporary cuisine, with 90K digital documents, and it will explain all that happened in fine dining over the past 50 years.
  • elBulli DNA, an online resource collecting all the recipes invented at elBulli since it was founded. And more: «There will be videos with all the recipes and photos of what they looked like. And there will also be our chefs’ creative notebooks, all that was created in over 20 years. It’s important to have all this information because many people think spherification is all we did».

  • Sapiens, that is to say «the methodology created by elBullifoundation to understand and analyse a project, so as to improve efficiency in innovation». It’s a concept we have already mentioned above, as it’s the heart of ElBulli 1846.
  • ElBulli 1846, finally. In the old location of elBulli(but completely renewed and enlarged) there will be 4,500 square metres dedicated to a revolutionary creative lab, where a team of 15-20 people will add ideas and expertise to research and experiments.

So how will they select the people who are to work side by side with Ferran Adrià and his staff? Through a global call for submissions open to everyone. At Madrid Fusión we had a glimpse of the sections on elbullifoundation.com that are not yet open. They hide the profiles of the positions open at ElBulli 1846, which will undergo three different selections, one for each branch of research on which Adrià intends to invest.

Not just kitchen professionals, «we need cooks, philosophers, journalists, scientists... And "agitators", that is to say people who question what is known, offering stimuli for creative freedom. At first, we’ll hire 15-20 people maximum. No more: beyond that number, the leader of a group dedicated to innovation will lose control of the team itself. Ideally, we would have no more than 12 people... How will I choose? By now, we’ve developed a good eye. At elBulli it was easy: Aduriz sent me his best, Bottura sent me his best, and so on. What are we going to do? Everything. Every possible thing. As long as it’s legal. We won’t communicate much: it will be a long seller, it wouldn’t be enough just to write a quick report and that’s it. The topic: basic investigation on innovation, so that we can set the conceptual foundations».

Do you want to work with Ferran Adrià? Keep an eye on the elBullifoundation website. The first call opens on February 3rd 2020, later closing in June, seeking mostly researchers who will study every possible variation on dining room service, including psychologists, sociologists, artist, as well as other professionals...

The second call (1st September - 20th December 2020) will focus on the study, compiling and structuring of the data for a library of 100 books that aim to explain cooking in every aspect. This project will include chefs, philosophers, and historians, among others.

The third call, in 2021, will be for professionals who will discuss, clarify and reveal the secrets hidden in human perception. What is taste? How can we intervene and change the way we understand the perception of flavours, aromas and texture?

Good luck, if you apply. In the meantime, Adrià is enthusiastic: «I feel as though I was back in 1990, when they told us that what we wanted to do was impossible». The show is starting, he announced before leaving the stage.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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