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Reinventing Food: Ferran Adria, The Man Who Changed The Way We Eat – book review

24 September 2010 by
Reinventing Food: Ferran Adria, The Man Who Changed The Way We Eat – book review

Reinventing Food: Ferran Adrià, The Man Who Changed The Way We Eat
By Colman Andrews
Phaidon Press, £19.95
ISBN 978-0-7148-5905-7

Once described by The Times restaurant critic AA Gill as "unquestionably the most influential chef since Escoffier", Ferran Adrià has garnered both acclaim and criticism from chefs around the globe throughout his extraordinary career.

What is universally undisputed, however, is the fact that Adrià, through his catalogue of elBulli creations and standing as the driving force behind the ultimate destination restaurant, has changed the way we eat and think about food, spawning a host of imitators around the world.

In *Reinventing Food Ferran Adri*à, the first authorised biography of the 40-something chef, long-term friend Colman Andrews, a US-based food writer, gastronomic commentator, expert on Spanish cuisine and author of Catalan Cuisine, gives a unique insight into Adrià's exceptional life story - how a young Catalan with no boyhood interest in food ended up taking over the kitchen of elBulli in 1987 at the age of 25 and evolved to change the gastronomic world forever.

The book takes the reader through Adrià's humble beginnings as a cook during military service, who, through a friend's recommendation, spent a month's leave doing work experience at elBulli, through to international recognition as the man behind the world's most important restaurant in terms of molecular gastronomy (although this is a term he loathes, apparently).

The 16 chapters range from Ferran Adrià and Why He Matters and Gorgonzola Mochi and Rabbit Brains to Disco-Beach, a term used by the author to describe the early years of elBulli, and Anti-Ferran, Santi Ferran, which discusses in detail Adrià and his much-publicised critics, some of whom claimed that he endangered the health of his customers through the use of "additives".

It's a lively and fascinating read, which concludes with a chapter called Morphing, in which Andrews looks forward and discusses the future for elBulli following the announcement that the three-Michelin-starred restaurant will close at the end of 2011 and emerge in a different form.

Once described by The Times restaurant critic AA Gill as "unquestionably the most influential chef since Escoffier", Ferran Adria has garnered both acclaim and criticism from chefs around the globe throught his extraordinary career.

What is universally undisputed, however, is the fact that Adria, through his catalogues of elBulli creations and standing as the driving force behind the ultimate destination restaurant, has changed the way we eat and think about food, spawning a whole host of mini-mes around the world.

In Reinventing Food: Ferran Adria, the first authorised biography of the 40-something chef, longterm friend Colman Andrews, a US-based food writer, gastronomic commentator, expert on Spanish cuisine and author of Catalan Cuisine, gives a unique insight into Adria's exceptional life story - how one young Catalan with no boyhood interest in food ended up taking over the kitchen of elBulli in 1987 at the age of 25 and evolved to change the gastronomic world forever.

The book takes the reader through Adria's humble beginnings as a cook during military service, who, through a friend's recommendation, spent a month's leave doing work experience at elBulli, through to international recognition as the man behind the world's most important restaurant in terms of molecular gastronomy (although this is a term he loathes, apparently).

"It was a seven-thousand-word cover story built around Ferran in the New York Times Magazine, in the late summer of 2003, that changed everything," writes Andrews. "Above the headline: ‘The Nueva Nouvelle Cuisine: How Spain Became the New France', Ferran appeared, looking sombre, dark and misleadingly thin - almost sepulchral - and holding out, like a witch offering a poisoned apple, a small bowl from which rose a beehive of ‘carrot air with essence of mandarin'. The effect was electric. ‘Before the New York Times,' says Ferran, ‘my success was only in the culinary world. Before the Times, there was only the restaurant. Since the Times, there has been the myth.'

The 16 chapters range from Ferran Adria and Why He Matters and Gorgonzola Mochi and Rabbit Brains to Disco-Beach, a term used by the author to describe the early years of elBulli, and Anti-Ferran, Santi Ferran, which discusses in detail Ferran and his much-publicised critics, some of whom claimed that he endangered the health of his customers through the use of "additives".

It's a lively and fasciating read, which concludes with a chapter called Morphing, in which Andrews looks forward and discusses the future for elBulli following the announcement that the three-Michelin-starred restaurant will close at the end of 2011 and emerge in a different form.

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