The acclaimed chef behind Spain’s landmark El Bulli restaurant is in Australia sharing his vision for the future of gastronomy.
Ferran Adria is renowned for his experimental cooking at his three-Michelin star restaurant in the Costa Brava region.
He has since closed that restaurant to focus on mapping the evolution of world cuisines.
This will be in the form an online gastronomic encyclopaedia.
Mr Adria has also set up a Barcelona-based cooking laboratory and is aiming to attract creative minds from a range of backgrounds including chefs, designers and architects.
“There the most important language will be cooking but it’s not a project about cooking it’s a project about creativity and the creative process,” he said.
It’s a project about creativity and the creative process
As part of this comes an ambitious project to codify the world’s food.
A cuisine taxonomy that breaks ingredients, techniques and cultures down to their very DNA.
Mr Adria says his study will examine in part how things such as geography and the internet are transforming the professional culinary world.
“What once took a thousand years to happen, now happens in a thousand days,” he said.
“This sad attitude in Australia of being a young country and influenced by so many different cultures, for me it doesn’t mean anything.
“You can adapt parts of any other civilisation and incorporate it into yours, because that has happened throughout history.”
Experimenting with sound in modern cooking
As culinary innovation propels along some chefs are reinventing entire sites like British-based Heston Blumenthal, whose Bray restaurant ‘The Fat Duck’ is migrating to Melbourne.
Mr Blumenthal describes modern cooking as a delicate symphony and he is taking that notion quite literally.
“We’re doing more sound experiments on caramels, take a soft toffee sauce, put lemon juice in so the acidity cuts through the richness,” he said.
“The idea that you can listen to a sharp sound and you’ll notice the acidity in the sauce, if you listen to a soft sound you’ll notice the caramel in the sauce.”
But the master of deconstruction, whose seafood dishes might be paired with a mp3 player inside a shell playing sea sounds, is warning chefs of the future against innovation for innovation’s sake.
“The building blocks of French cooking, you’ve got to understand all of that before you can start questioning it,” he said.
“So sometimes we do see some young chefs doing stuff where they’ll stick something in vacuum oven then a desiccator then a packer jet then put liquid nitrogen onto it.
“You look at it and think you could’ve just mixed it with some eggs and stuck it on the oven, so there will always be a danger of that.”
But to Mr Adria, a close friend of Mr Blumenthal, the thrill of experimenting should never be discouraged.
“If he said that in front of me I would have to give him a tug or two on his ear because when he began with innovation if they’d told him that he wouldn’t have innovated,” he said.
“For young people, those who want to innovate, you have to let them do it.
“Freedom is so very important because if you don’t take risks when it comes to creativity you’ll only make it half way.”