Deconstructing Food as Art

Last month, I wrote an article on Ferran Adria’s exhibition: Notes on Creativity at the Drawing Center. Adria, chef of the now closed El Bulli on the Costa Brava near Rosas, Spain, is often associated with “molecular gastronomy” cuisine--although he prefers to call it “deconstructivist” cuisine.  Perhaps knowing that Adria’s restaurant was located near the summer home of Salvador Dalí gives us a bit of insight into Adrià’s cuisine. Mr. Adrià himself often characterized El Bulli as “a kind of theater, more about the experience than about the food.”

If one buys into the idea that his food was indeed art, then it’s no surprise that Mr. Adrià has this exhibit highlighting the graphic side of his work.  Notes on Creativity showcases Adriá’s drawings, notes, notebooks, diagrams, pictograms and prototypes of his theater. Additionally, there are 247 Plasticine food models fashioned by the El Bulli team.

Like many artists, Adriá and his collaborators—including his brother Chef Albert Adrià, sought out to revolutionize a discipline (food) by “breaking it down and rethinking and rebuilding it from the ground up in an entirely new form.” (NYT)  From this came menu items like the dry martini downed by being sprayed on the tongue, or a paper-thin green leaf made of milk.  He endeavored to take menu common items and reconstruct them into something rare, exceptional and interactive.

One way the El Bulli team kept menu items unique and fresh is Adriá and his team closed El Bulli for six months each year and experimented in a laboratory in Barcelona.

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The above photo highlights one of these creations: “Soup Fragrance Spoon.” The handle is outfitted with a clothespin-like clip for herbs to be smelled while eating, combining the dining experience with the creation.

There is a new production called “1846,” which depicts each of the dishes Adrià and his team created over the restaurant’s 24-year run.  You can view it here.

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