Kitchen Confidential meets Heat in the first behind-the-scenes portrait of the world’s most influential restaurant and the aspiring culinary geniuses who toiled to make it so exceptional.
WHAT GOES ON BEHIND THE SCENES AT ELBULLI?
Elected best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine an unprecedented five times, elBulli is where chef Ferran Adrià’s remarkable cuisine comes to life—with dragon cocktails that make the drinker breathe smoke and caviar made from tiny spheres of olive oil. elBulli is also the object of culinary pilgrimage—millions clamor every year for a reservation at one of its tables.
Yet few people know that, behind each of the thirty or more courses that make up a meal at elBulli, a small army of stagiaires—apprentice chefs—labor at the precise, exhausting work of executing Adrià’s astonishing vision.
In The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adrià’s elBulli, Lisa Abend explores the remarkable system that Adrià uses to run his restaurant and, in the process, train the next generation of culinary stars.
Today, food has become the focus of unprecedented attention, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentices explores the strange evolution—in less than two decades—of a once-maligned profession into a source of celebrity.
Lisa Abend is journalist based in Madrid. For the past three years, she has been Time magazine’s correspondent in Spain, where she writes about everything from international terrorism, to climate change, to immigration, to costumed debt collectors (with, needless to say, a fair number of bullfighting stories thrown in for good measure.) As a freelancer, she has written on learning the Basque language for The Atlantic; on volunteer bit torrent translators for Wired; on the plight of Roma women for Ms., on prime minister Zapatero’s republican upbringing for The American Prospect; on the recovery of the Iberian lynx for National Wildlife; and on the situation in Western Sahara for The Economist. Her real love, though, is food writing. She contributes regularly to all the major American food magazines, and has written features on a Marrakech cooking school (Bon Appetit); on culinary travels through Extremadura (Gourmet); on a collective of grandmothers in Catalonia who preserve traditional cuisine (Saveur) and on learning to love pig face (Food and Wine). Her food writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, and the Christian Science Monitor. She hosts an upcoming episode on Andalusia in the third season of PBS’ Diary of a Foodie. In a previous life (that is, about 5 years ago) she was a professor of Spanish history at Oberlin College.