October 14, 2008

A party for the Salvador Dali of the kitchen

I recently went to a book party for the celebrated Spanish chef Ferran Adria. Chef Adria's restaurant, elBulli, near Barcelona, is a three-Michelin-star restaurant and has been ranked No. 1 for the third year in a row. In his new book, "A Day at elBulli," Adria explains how he achieved this honorable status, sharing many photographs and many fine recipes.

Adria started his culinary career washing dishes in a French restaurant. Later, he served in the Spanish military, where he was stationed in the kitchen. When he was 22, he began working with the kitchen staff of elBulli, and quite remarkably, just 18 months later, he was appointed the head chef.

Adria is the quintessential experimental chef and travels a great deal to gather inspiration. In fact, he closes elBulli down for six months every year so that he is free to travel, stimulating his artistic skills. Adria, after all, has earned the moniker "the Salvador Dali of the kitchen." If you're traveling to Spain and are considering a meal at elBulli, I have to tell you that they receive more than 2 million requests a year for reservations and fill just 8,000 seats.

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Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame, me, Alain Ducasse - chef and restaurateur, and chef Ferran Adria of Spain, in whose honor we were attending this wonderful book party.