cover image Ferran: The Inside Story of El Bulli and the Man Who Reinvented Food

Ferran: The Inside Story of El Bulli and the Man Who Reinvented Food

Colman Andrews, Gotham, $28 (356p) ISBN 978-1-592-40572-5

Ferran Adrià, the chef responsible for turning El Bulli in Catalonia, Spain, into one of the world's most acclaimed restaurants, has been called a charlatan, an enemy of good sense and real food just as much as he has been proclaimed a prophet and worshipped by fellow chefs and lay diners, and imitated in restaurants all over the world. Before Ferran was featured in a 2003 New York Times Magazine article, El Bulli struggled to fill seats; the Times story about Ferran and his nueva cuisine catapulted the restaurant into the stratosphere and helped to shape Ferran's iconic status. Soon, more than 300,000 people tried to make reservations for about 8,000 slots. In a combination of fan's notes and compulsively readable biography, food writer Andrews traces Ferran's rise to success and his deconstruction and reinvention of food. Ferran has upended the stockpots, snuffed out the wood-fire grill, and let the larder run wild, reinventing food by working with such techniques as caramelization, liquification, emulsification, "spherification," and food-based "foams" and "airs." Thus, included among the 30 or so dishes in one dinner that food critic Andrews (The Country Cooking of Ireland) ate at El Bulli were sake sorbet with yuzu foam and tonic, gorgonzola mochi (pounded Japanese rice paste enclosing a blue cheese–flavored liquid), and coco with caviar (coconut milk and thickened coconut water topped with three spoonfuls of caviar). Andrews's lovingly crafted story wonderfully records the tale of a brilliant and inventive chef. (Oct.)