Friday, February 21, 2014

Ferran Adrià: Notes on Creativity

Whaaaat? An exhibit on Ferran Adria? Food and art! Cool! This exhibit showcases chef Ferran Adria's notes, sketches, and processes (?) during the time that he was at El Bulli.

For those who are not familiar with Ferran Adria, he was the chef at the acclaimed El Bulli in Spain from the 1984 to 2011, when the restaurant closed. He became famous for his techniques with molecular gastronomy or deconstructivist cuisine.

I sadly never made it to El Bulli before it closed, but after this exhibit, I'm hoping for a revival. Or, maybe if we are lucky, a pop up restaurant in New York (that's a joke).
The exhibit is at The Drawing Center, I had not heard of this gallery before, but I've walked by it a thousand times when strolling through SoHo. It offers free admission on Thursdays from 6-8pm!


The exhibit starts with a brief introduction of when cooking began (neolithic era). Below are a few drawings that illustrate the timeline from then to now. I didn't quite follow all of them. However, I did see a trend of the illustration on the right throughout the exhibit. If you go to visit, you will see what I mean regarding the sketching of the process workflow. 

I never really think of the behind the scenes action when I am dining at a restaurant, and I was amazed (though, I guess not surprised) at the level of detail that went into every texture/flavor/color/taste/smell/plate. The sketches (not the ones above, there are more that I did not photograph) were similar to what you would imagine a fashion designer would draw - but for food! Ferran even studied the different senses and how they interact to create his masterpieces.

Ferran and team invented various kitchen tools to assist with his methodologies. Among other items, there was a tool invented for making gnocchi, and a drink that was served in a cologne bottle, so diners would spray the drink onto their tongue. Below are spices in a blister pack for pills. 

The image below depicts the typical storyboard of a dish. You will see on the right there are copious notes and then on the left, a photo of what the dish should look like. There was another image (I didn't photograph) that looked like champagne with some floating fruit, but it was actually raspberries and ham. Cheers!

I like this triangle of creativity. I am definitely on the bottom part of the triangle. I found it interesting because I consider cooking/eating as a way to connect and also show love and affection (ahem, little sis, that's why I always eat your food!), so I am happy to just pick up a cook book and follow a recipe. It was interesting to see how Ferran sat at the top of the triangle by creating new techniques ("spaghetti" that is actually made by cheese? cool.). Inspirational, but I doubt I will be trying any molecular gastronomy recipes at home.

There are a set of books, I suppose, "archives" available for sale, I may consider purchasing them as coffee table material for my grown up house one day. 

The NYT and Daily Beast have written about this exhibit much more eloquently than I can, so click through to those links if you want to read more.

The exhibit will end next Friday (February 28th, 2014), be sure to stop in for a look. As I mentioned above, there is free admission on Thursday nights from 6-8pm, so you could probably stop in enroute to your dinner reservation Thursday night.

I'm not sure of the fate of El Bulli or if it will open again, but there is now a Bullipedia that is supposed to be an online culinary resource.

To round out this exhibit, Raina and I will also be seeing Ferran speak at the 92Y in a few weeks! Um, amazing.

1 comment :

Avani said...

love this!!! :)