23rd April 2010 – goes down as the highlight of my culinary world, meeting Ferran Adria (El Bulli fame) close up and personal. For the World Gourmet Summit 2010 in Singapore, Ferran was invited to give a talk about El Bulli’s past, present and future, in conjunction with Spain’s Tourism new advertising campaign to lure more Asian travellers to the country . It was broken down to 2 sessions. The first was held in Capella on Sentosa on 22nd April while the second installment was at the Singapore Repertory Theatre, the following day.
Ferran spoke spanish and with the help of a translator he explained his concepts and philosophy about his method of food preparation. He cited Michel Bras as one of the leading creative thinkers in the culinary world – came up with the notion of a ‘biscuit de chocolat coulant‘ – a chocolate dessert, hard on the exterior but liquid in the centre, now copied world wide by every high end to low end restaurants, dessert makers and chocolate factories!
Ferran of course, a cutting edge creative thinker in his very own right – molecular gastronomy has impacted fine dining all over, his techniques are now being copied by many michelin star restaurants. Incidentally El Bulli is a 3 michelin star restaurant in Spain, close to Barcelona. But alas, in February 2010, Ferran announced he will close El Bulli forever in its current form likely in 2012, and reopenning it as an academy instead.
So yesterday was super special to meet and hear the maestro speaks about his passion, his team and his techniques, his favourites are siphon, liquid nitrogen and the dehydration method of preparing food. The visuals of his food preparation is out of this world.. truly. Textures and techniques are so very core of his cooking. He admitted though, his own view of the world has widened since, he realised the soya sauce he has in his home and have been using, was not the best and the humble miso is more sophisticated that is appears, the many types you can find in Japan and the quality is so variable, the best ones are truly the best – Europe has never seen or tried it before. We continuously learn something new each day, even the maestro.
Photo from Blog Paradizo.Com
It was his first time in Singapore, I am sure he will be drawing a lot of inspirations to his kitchen or academy in the future to explore further how science, technology and nature can excite our senses even more. That being said, I concluded although the much coveted table in El Bulli is prize winning to be joyful over, I doubt I will make it there in time before it closes.
Not all is lost, there are many trained proteges of Ferran around that may provide us the glimpse of that world. To be honest, this type of food disconstruction meal may not be everyone’s idea of good food or fine dining, it is more of a space exploration, a discovery journey when you do decide to venture into the world of El Bulli. And that I think is something one should try at least once during their lifetime. Anyways, I know I would be happy to go back to Cinc Sentits for high end comfort food in Barcelona if all else fails, run by the Artal siblings.
Finally I met Ferran and got his autograph, for all his fame – he appeared to be truly humble and extremely passionate. That is a true sign of a genius.