Who could have guessed that the biggest trend in haute cuisine today would begin when Spanish chef Ferrán Adria received a nitrous oxide canister intended for making whipped cream, as a gift in 1993? Adria, who was a cook at the three-star restaurant El Bulli since 1984, had been making traditional dishes up until that moment. But what he saw in that canister was the potential to make much more than a popular desert topping. He experimented with putting various liquid and gelatins in the canister to see how they would taste as a foamy paste, instead of a solid, traditional food.
Soon he was making foams from cheese, tomato, asparagus, shellfish, and potato. While the innovative dishes he created using the nitrous oxide canister launched Adria’s career, they also launched a new trend in restaurant dining. For years now, those who had to experience Adria’s flavorful foam creations had to wait for up ro a year for a reservation, fly to Barcelona, and then drive 40 miles to the end of a long mountain road to reach El Bulli in remote Roses anymore.
Fortunately for us, many Adria-trained chefs in American are using his creative techniques and ideas to produce these exciting, new dishes in restaurants inWashington, DC, Miami, and Boston.
Adria has been called the world’s leading promoter of cuisine that reaches outside the limitations of traditional cooking styles. His cooking methods have merged food with art. “I’m not confined by classic techniques,” Adria tells Carole Kotkin, food editor for www.toptastes.com. “I can explain everything to you – except the magic, which is what really matters. The rest is rationale, technique, professionalism. The magic moment when you find that gelatin can be transformed into tagliatelle, I cannot explain.”
Since El Bulli is only open from the end of March to the end of September, Adria spends the remainder of his time perfecting his techniques, experimenting with new dishes, and teaching other chefs about his marvelous discoveries. His apprentices are more than appreciative.