Today, the New York Times published a lengthy profile of chef/dreamer Ferran Adrià, the former elBulli chef who's been busy working on his elBulli Foundation, an organization that Adrià calls a "think tank for creativity." In the 3,500-word piece, writer correspondent Sam Borden captures Adrià's manic energy as the chef challenges students to "eat knowledge" and as he "examin[es] a treatise on green vegetables."
But crucially, Borden offers insight on exactly what the elBulli Foundation and its industrious figurehead are currently working on — apparently, it's everything from a search engine called SeaUrching to a possible non-restaurant with the performance troupe Cirque du Soleil. Below, the seven most illuminating peeks into Adrià's world:
1) Borden describes Adrià's wide-ranging mission as "worldly and chaotic," both grandiose and with an acute attention to detail: "At a desk facing the window, three men spent hours researching white asparagus. (It was not immediately clear what this was for.)"
2) elBulli may not have been a big moneymaker, but Adrià's brand is: "El Bulli's catering division brought in up to €400,000 a year, and in 2010, he said, V.I.P. fund-raising dinners earned about €3.5 million, most of which was put toward ensuring the new foundation's long-range viability."
3) The elBulli Foundation has two separate groups within it, one dedicated to "knowledge" (and creating the long-stewing BulliPedia), and the other to "creativity." The latter group is called El Bulli DNA.
4) Adrià is also dabbling in the tech space: "Also in the works is a search engine known as SeaUrching (named in part for the delicacy) as well as a language to describe gastronomy known as Huevo, Spanish for egg," Borden writes. "Huevo, it was noted by one of Mr. Adrià's colleagues, could ultimately be a digital language coded for use by refrigerators or other kitchen appliances."
5) Adrià is consulting on a project with performance troupe Cirque du Soleil, telling Borden: "We are helping create a restaurant that is not a restaurant."
6) Construction is still stalled at the elBulli Museum, where Adrià is mired in a controversy with local environmental and community groups over proposed expansion. Adrià is currently expanding the space by 20 percent but desires a much larger footprint, and he may eventually win out: "Some people say they think Mr. Adrià will ultimately get the overhaul he initially desired."
7) Adrià is still busily pondering life's biggest questions: "'It took me eight months to understand this,' he said, referring to the lettuce. He was not kidding."