/ 26 August 2011

Culinary adventurer Ferran Adrià looks to Asia

Culinary Adventurer Ferran Adrià Looks To Asia

Ground-breaking chef Ferran Adrià is on a quest to find the soul of Asian cooking, which could perhaps provide key hints for future gastronomic inventions from the man who brought the world culinary foam.

Considered the world’s best chef by several critics, Adrià and his El Bulli restaurant became synonymous with a transformation of traditional dishes into fun and funky culinary adventures.

But, pleading a need for transformation, he last month shut the restaurant down — at least in its current incarnation.

“I don’t know much about Asia, and Asia could be an archive of ideas,” Adrià told Reuters in Hong Kong after a visit to Beijing and Shanghai.

“The gastronomical culture of China is very, very important. Simply to just get to know all the products that exist in China but not exist in the West would take months.”

Roughly 15 trips to Japan have helped him understand the country and its cuisine a little, but this has merely whetted his appetite for learning about the rest of the continent.

“I’ve looked at the soul of the cooking and the reason of things [in Japan] and then I started looking at cooking techniques. But I haven’t got to that point for the rest of Asia yet,” he added.

At the final El Bulli dinner last month Adrià said the restaurant had become “a monster” that needed taming and transformation.

Gazpacho popsicles
It will re-open in 2014 as “El Bulli Foundation”, a centre for new culinary inventions from the Catalan who gave the world paella made of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies and gazpacho popsicles.

Asked about his comment, Adrià chuckled but said that success requires transformation, especially once things becomes as complex as the restaurant had. But he is confident the foundation will again stamp his mark on the gastronomic world.

“[It] is to be a think tank where we will share everything that we create and divulge it around the world,” he added. “It’s going to be a place for reflection.”

The sharing could extend to agreements with governments, most likely centring around products such as Iberian ham and olive oil at first, perhaps through exports. But no deals will be sealed until at 2013 at the earliest.

Other initiatives could include exchanges of cooking techniques and ideas, part of the reason behind his current culinary quest — although he dismisses the idea of popular “fusion” cuisine as “a lie”.

“Think for example of Chinese cuisine. What would it be without corn, without tomato, without peppers, without all those ingredients that came from America that weren’t there before, or all the elements from the Arab world?” he said.

“That’s fusion cooking.”

Though Adrià acknowledged that much about his future and that of the foundation remains unknown, he added that uncertainty often resulted in new questions that led to fresh ideas and initiatives.

“When somebody doesn’t understand things very well, it means you’re on the right path in terms of creativity,” he said. – Reuters