The Major Contributions of Ferran Adrià and El Bulli

by Emily Bell
January 2011

Much of what occurred in the kitchen and Taller of El Bulli were a continuation of culinary evolutions begun long ago, in sundry kitchens; but the prodigious output, thoroughness, and creative transparency of the El Bulli process were like giant leaps in the cause of avant-garde cuisine, easily accessible to the culinary world at large. Here are a few of the many contributions of the most storied cuisine in history.

Caviar Cream with Hazelnut Caviar
Caviar Cream with Hazelnut Caviar

Inverse Spherification: An improvement on the spherification technique (which resulted in completely gelled product). Dissolving calcium carbonate into a culinary liquid and dropping that mixture into an alginate solution; the resulting droplets are immediately rinsed, halting the reaction, and preserving a liquid core; uses and reversals of this technique resulting in creation of fruit caviars, noodles made of liquids, specially molded spherififcations, etc.

Foams, Airs: Aeration of sauces, juices, and essences to create ethereal, texturally delicate experience of pure flavor.

Menu Deconstruction: Abandoning the linear course structure of the traditional menu for a degustation tasting menu that freely intermingles sweet, savory, and beverage forms.

Bag of Roasted Cardamom
Bag of Roasted Cardamom

Dish Deconstruction: The re-imagination of dish concepts that preserves and enhances the innate essence of the dish while breaking down traditional structures, preparations, and presentations.

Let it Be Light: Drastic decrease in use of protein, especially as centerpiece, with more emphasis on seafood and vegetables; use of nuts, juices, and other light components in stocks.

The Sixth Sense: Incorporating nostalgia, memory, and emotional responses to engage the diner, transforming the traditional meal into an idiosyncratic, unpredictable conversation between diner, chef, and cuisine.

Equality of Ingredients: Identifying ingredients, from sardines to truffles, as being of the same intrinsic culinary value.

Wild Strawberries with Hare Soup
Wild Strawberries with Hare Soup

Sweet and Savory: Abandoning traditional divisions between sweet and savory courses, interspersing sweet and savory elements in non-traditional forms throughout the course of the degustation; bringing a wide savory palate into the creation of ice creams.

Elaboration of Traditional Cooking Techniques: Exploring beyond the bounds of traditional techniques to achieve new effects, including advances in caramelization, ultra-low temperature freezing, dehydration, warm gelatinization, etc.

For more information, please refer to El Bulli’s “Synthesis of Our Cuisine