Iconic Spanish chef Ferran Adrià today addressed students of Westminster Kingsway College in London, sharing his vision for the forthcoming El Bulli Foundation and revealing details of a new project La Bullipedia.
The former three-Michelin-starred chef, who closed El Bulli on the Costa Brava in northern Spain last year, talked at length about his philosophy of cuisine and his plans for the El Bulli Foundation.
He also revealed details of La Bullipedia, an online gastronomic database he is developing together with Telefonica that is to contain "every piece of culinary knowledge ever gathered, an online repository, reference point and forum".
"It will aim to put in order the history of cuisine," Adrià explained. "It will be focused on the time from the 1600s to now and a special focus on the last 50 years. It's a very complex project whose aim is to act as a tool to help chefs around the world. It's a creative archive and not about recipes or imitating dishes."
Likening cooking to evolution, Adrià defined the meaning of cooking as the "transformation of an ingredient". "Avant-garde cooks have always been around, throughout the history of mankind, and the world is a better place for it," he said. "Making foams is just like people pureeing food millions of years ago because it made it easier for them to eat. It's all relative."
Adrià went on to describe his vision for the El Bulli Foundation, a centre of creativity and learning, set to open on the former site of the restaurant in 2014.
"As a restaurant El Bulli reached a limit and it needed change. The Foundation will be dedicated 90% to creativity and 10% to feeding people, who will be invited to eat there."
He explained that the Foundation would be divided into different areas, offering a seven-month programme overseen by five long-standing El Bulli chefs acting as creative directors to about 18 to 20 chefs.
"It will be like a campus. But it won't be a school, there won't be teachers or scholars, it will be a centre of a creativity where people share knowledge. We will have total freedom to do what we want," Adrià said.
"We will look for the best creative talent from around the world and we will choose chefs through a tough online selection process. Nobody will get in through knowing someone; we have to make it fair. There will be grants of around €10,000 making it possible for anyone from anywhere in the world to come."
Finally, when asked what advice he would give to young chefs entering the industry, Adrià said: "Look at yourself in the mirror and say: "I want to be happy. Where are my limits?" From there get cooking, develop and evolve."
By Kerstin Kühn
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