Ferran Adria is an enigma. He is, I have discovered, by turn provocative, exciting, playful, argumentative, disruptive, engaging and leading up the first Culinary Conclave for the elBulli Foundation held this past weekend, passionately demanding in what he wants to achieve.
I therefore felt a little out of place at the recent august gathering of hand picked food writers from around the world at this, the first elBulli Foundation event hosted at my client, LeDomaine Hotel in Spain. I was part of the circle – not invited to the inner sanctum but was attending as a “fly on the wall” – a commentator for social media.
Within five minutes though, this complex man held me completely in thrall. He’s like a dynamo – a passionate firebrand of ideas with a need to debate and argue them with a band of writers who he deems as passionately devoted to the topic of gastronomy as he is. This collaborative dialogue is for me at the essence of what his Foundation wants to achieve. Ferran is the conductor and we dance to his tune.
Better writers than me (among them participant Bill Knott) can explain more about his Foundation (see the Financial Times How to Spend it this coming weekend where Ferran is the cover feature) so I’ll stick to the man himself. That his Foundation will be extraordinary and a force for good, is for me, not in doubt. He put himself at risk, on the edge with elBulli – accepting the brickbats with the accolades too – and he is doing it again with his Foundation.
It seems that a life lived quietly is not for him – he drives himself, giving 100% of his passion and energy into whatever endeavour next engages him. He is one of those rare people who can change your perception of life, can open up new ideas, subtly shifting your outlook and making you question and change your long held beliefs.
He has done that for me in just over two days in his company – albeit a little at arm’s length. I could see, he seemed to have a similar effect on some of these writers too. He was talking about food – I was relating his ideas to my life.
Our world is the richer for having rare individuals like Ferran Adria in it. For me, I am so pleased I was able to experience the Ferran effect for myself – and yes, as you can see, I am now, unequivocally, a Ferran fan myself – and proud of it.
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