This is Ferran Adria - the man who had chefs all around the world experimenting with and serving flavoured "soil" and "foam" to diners. His restaurant, elBulli, is the winner of the Best Restaurant in the World title four times in the last seven years, the last three were consecutive - a restaurant in Spain which is only open for six months each year, with 2,000,000 requests for 8,000 places annually.
The other six are spent in his kitchen-laboratory with his team, artfully "deconstructing" food and presenting it in new and totally unexpected ways on elBulli's thirty-something course degustation menu the following year. A meal that will guarantee a massive head-fuck, an assault to all your senses, in a very good way.
Like his take on the traditional dish of cured ham and melon - Melon with Ham 2005. Tiny cantaloupe-flavoured spheres suspended in a cold jamón ibérico consomme. The essential flavours of the dish are still present except you consume it in a different way.
It's every food-lover's dream to dine at elBulli one day. Assuming you beat the long wait-list, it's not a cheap meal - an air ticket to Spain and incidentals on top of the €200 meal (not including matching wines from their amazing cellar). The next best thing, I suppose, while waiting, is to go see the man talk about his love for food and I did on Friday evening, along with 1067 others (I think most of Sydney's kitchens shut down that night just so the chefs could attend), at the majestic State Theatre, held in conjuction with the 11th Annual Good Food Month and the launch of his new book, A Day at elBulli, a 2.5kg and 528-page look behind the scenes at the famed restaurant.
Ferran Adria spoke in Spanish, peppering his slideshow and video presentation with gems of anecdotes, and kudos to the seamless interpreting, I felt like I understood his native tongue.
By the end of the evening, I was as much in love with the man as his philosophy on food. In a world full of "rockstar" chefs and "rockstar" everything-else, it warms my heart to see a man who is at the toppest top of his game yet so modest about his achievements. Ferran Adria and my other huge chef-crush, Tetsuya Wakuda (who personally took us on a tour of his kitchen and art collection when we dined at his restaurant four years ago) are not textbook good-looking men but man, do they ooze "SEXY" with their humility. And their food, of course.
Seeing the man behind those wonders of molecular gastronomy has made me want to eat at elBulli even more than ever. If I stop buying frivolous things from now on, I might just make it there for my 40th, that is, if we're able to get a table.