July 01, 2006


You never know when the moments that change your life are going to occur.

There are the predictable moments - the birth of a child, meeting the woman you marry. Then there are the smaller ones that are imperceptible. Mine happened in February.

I was at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival (now known less economically as the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Wine & Food Magazine). I was attending a screening at the Wolfsonian Museum of "Anthony Bourdain: Decoding Ferran Adria" being held in honor of the great Spanish chef who constantly experiments with food in a lab. It's all very simple and yet futuristic.


As the film progressed, I shared Bourdain's amazement for the way Adria was mixing science and food. Some of it was supposed to be food - gigantic spoon of carrot froth as one course in a 32-stage meal, anyone? - but he had messed with the properties so radically, many of the dishes were almost unclassifiable. Sure, they were edible, but just because something's edible after having 2,000 volts run through it doesn't make it food. Or, at least, it doesn't make it a restaurant entree. Or does it?

Anyway, the film so altered my compass radically on what the frontiers of food actually looked like, I hunted everywhere to find the film on DVD so I could show it to friends and co-workers, to no avail.

I interviewed Bourdain some months later for a story and was told that the film would be airing on Travel Channel this summer.

That day is finally here.

I just saw the show will broadcast at 10 p.m. Monday and at 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Here's how the channel describes the show:

New York City chef/author Anthony Bourdain is invited to film in the research laboratory of Ferran Adria, the most controversial and imitated chef in the world--chef/owner of El Bulli, voted "World's Best" by Restaurant Magazine.

The production company that made the film, ZeroPointZero, does a little better job selling the movie:

In the most historically important, visually dazzling, mind blowing one-hour special, Anthony Bourdain gets permission to film in the secret research laboratory of Ferran Adria, the most controversial and imitated chef in the world—chef/owner of El Bulli, voted “World's Best” by Restaurant Magazine--and the most visited by chefs on sabbatical.

The lab, an ultra modern, Dr. No-like facility with sliding walls, backlit ingredients, latest equipment and a full staff of devotees is tucked away inside a vast, renaissance-era palace in the old section of Barcelona, Spain. Ferran Adria and his chefs close the El Bulli restaurant for SIX MONTHS out of every year to work on new concepts, flavor combinations, ambience enhancers, and "found objects" for inspiration. Anthony Bourdain tracks Ferran’s process from lab to a once-in-a-lifetime meal at El Bulli restaurant. Anthony gets a unique look inside the hardest reservation on earth--enjoying a high-concept, surrealist, haute cuisine meal of unparalleled creativity and striking visual appearance.

Ferran Adria, an enormously charismatic, energetic and creative genius is seen at work. Words simply cannot describe the wonder or the strangeness; the exotic, alien and fabulous nature of what Adria does with - and to - food.

The show ends at Adria’s favorite little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, Rafa’s, in Roses, Spain as Anthony attempts to discover "where it came from", to seek an explanation, a source for Adria's inspiration. The importance, the "gaze in wonder" factor, the sheer fabulousness of Adria's food--and his unique approach to making it (cool, quiet, comfortable conditions, little use of gas or flame, laboratory conditions, a deliberate strategy of breaking all known rules) makes this program unlike any other.

Do me a favor and set aside times to watch it. Even if you're only lukewarm on food, it's still an amazing documentary.

And if you missed it and want to see it, get it on Amazon.

Maybe it will change your life, too.

Posted by Jeff at July 1, 2006 08:12 PM | TrackBack

I caught that show last night. It was interesting what Adria did with food. Stripped it down to the pure essence of food is. It was cool to watch him watching Bourdain's face as he enjoyed his meal.

Posted by: Amy at July 4, 2006 06:48 AM
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