Finally, I made it to the elBulli: Ferran Adria and the Art of Food exhibition which was launched in July. It is a very well curated exhibition showing the progress of elBulli from the start of being a minigolf installation founded by Dr Hans Schilling and his wife Marketta, to being a Beach Bar and finally the Michelin 3-star culinary restaurant known worldwide and where all foodie aspires to dine in.
Ferran Adria joined elBulli in 1984 when it was already a Michelin 1-star restaurant headed by Jean-Louis Neichel. Ferran Adria later became head chef in 1987 where they later achieved the 2nd Michelin star in 1990 and progressed on to its 3rd in 1997. He is a culinary genius and an icon who has created a new style cuisine, many worships.
This exhibition presents the evolution of elBulli with displays, video clips, charts, documents and products created during its creative moments. It shows the history of the restaurant from the beginning, how it grew, the creative processes in creating a dish, how they worked in the kitchen, experiments and videos of how the dishes were made very meticulously with modern gastronomy techniques. Ferran Adria himself thinks that concepts and techniques are more important than the dishes or recipes. He uses meticulous techniques to create surprise or irony. He invents his dishes to stimulate not five but six senses; the sixth being surprise and joy, playing the key role in creating a unique experience for his diners.
23 points of which characterised elBulli cuisine:
- Cooking is a language through which all of the following may be expressed: harmony, creativity, joy, beauty, poetry, complexity, magic, humour, provocation and culture.
- The use of top quality products and technical knowledge to prepare them properly is taken for granted.
- All products have the same gastronomic value, regardless of their price.
- Preference is given to vegetables, seafood and fish. Dairy products, nuts and other products also played key roles, together constituting a very light form of cooking. In recent years, red meat and large cuts of poultry have been used sparingly.
- Although the characteristics of the products may be modified (temperature, texture, shape, etc.), the aim is always to preserve the purity of their original taste. Exceptions can be made for processes that call for long cooking or seek the nuances of particular reactions such as the Maillard reaction.
- Cooking techniques, both classic and modern, are a heritage which the chef must understand how to exploit fully.
- As with most, new technologies are a support in the development of cooking.
- The family of bases in dishes is being extended. Together with the classic ones, lighter bases performing an identical function are now being used (water, broths, consommés, clarified vegtable juices, nut milks, etc.).
- A dish is enjoyed through the senses; it is also experienced and rationalised by reflection.
- Taste is not the only sense that can be stimulated; touch can also be played with (contrasts in temperatures and textures), as can smell and sight (colours, shapes, trompe l’oeil, etc.). The senses thus become one of the main points of reference in the creative process.
- The technical and conceptual research is the apex of the creative pyramid.
- Creation involves teamwork. In addition, research has become consolidated as a new feature of the culinary creative process.
- The barriers between the sweet world and the savoury world are being broken down. Importance is placed on a new cold cuisine, particularly in the creation of the frozen savoury world.
- The classic structure of dishes is being broken down. Appetisers and desserts are undergoing a veritable revolution, which is closely aligned with the concept of symbiosis between the sweet world and the savoury world. In main courses, the product-garnish-sauce hierarchy is shifting.
- A new way of serving food is being promote. The dishes are finished in the dining room by the serving staff. On other occasions, the diners themselves participate in this process.
- Local origins as a style constitutes connection to the geographical and cultural context, and to culinary traditions.
- Products and elaborations from other countries are subjected to this particular style of cooking.
- There are two main paths towards attaining harmony of products and tastes: through memory (connection to local origins, adaptation, deconstruction, earlier modern recipe) and through new combinations.
- An ever more codified culinary language is being created, which, on some occasions, establishes dialogues with the world and language of art.
- Recipes are designed to ensure that harmony is to be found in small servings.
- De-contextualisation, irony, spectacle and performance are completely legitimate as long as they are not superficial. Rather, they should respond to a gastronomic reflection.
- The tasting menu us the finest expression of avant-garde cooking. The structure is alive and subject to change. Concepts such as snacks, tapas, pre-desserts, morphs, etc. are favoured.
- Knowledge and/or collaboration with experts from different fields (gastronomic culture, history, industrial design, etc.) is essential for progress in cooking. In particular, collaboration with the food industry and the scientific world has brought about fundamental advances in cooking. Sharing this knowledge among the sector’s professionals has contributed to this evolution.
“A must go to exhibition for anyone interested in food or creativity.”
**Exhibition is ending on the 29th September so be quick.**