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A Primer and a Biography

A Review On: Ferran: The Inside Story of El Bulli and the Man Who Reinvented Food

Ferran: The Inside Story of El Bulli and the Man Who Reinvented Food

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Pros: Excellent overview of all things Ferran

Cons: Covered everything about Ferran, but very little from Ferran himself

The latest book on world renowned Chef Ferran Adria, simply titled "Ferran," is very good overall but do not expect the average biography here. 

 

The author, Colman Andrews, sets the book's tone from the start by declaring that his goal is not to rehash the same topics, insights, and issues that have been written ad nauseam by other writers.  Instead, he aims to cover those things in Ferran's life that deserved more attention.  Colman starts with Ferran's early home life and moves on chronologically to his youth, military service, first experiences in the kitchen, and his first contact with what would become El Bulli.  The rest of the book moves forward in like manner, each chapter covering the next "chapter" in Ferran's life.  Nothing too unusual for a biography.

 

But this book parts ways from the traditional biography by covering all things connected to Ferran in great detail, but including so very little from Ferran himself.  His personal memories and thoughts are scattered throughout the book like seasoning.  However, the bulk of the material comes from family, friends, colleagues, reporters, critics, the author's personal observations, other written works, etc.  In light of the fact that the book starts with a quote from Ferran himself declaring this book to be the final biography that he will collaborate on, you would expect the book to feel more personal.  But it does not. Yet, this does not detract from the book's usefulness as a history of the man himself.  And since this was indeed the author's goal--giving substantial time to those things that others have not already covered--the book should be considered a successful work! 

 

I come away from this book thinking of it more as a primer in Chef Ferran Adria's life.  You will get a grand overview of his life from his earliest beginnings to the present.  You will come away from this book wanting to know more, and wanting to delve deeper into his psyche.  If you've never heard of Chef Ferran Adria, this book is where you should start.  Otherwise, Ferran's own cookbooks, journals, interviews, videos, documentaries, self-made exhaustive journals of every dish ever served at El Bulli, and even the restaurant's own website, should provide you with enough Ferran-philosophy and El Bulli lore to satisfy your needs. 

1 Comment:

Great review. I think I would be more interested in a book that is focused more on him and how he came to conceive El Bulli and not so much his friends and family. They play a part but it would be more interesting to learn about the man and what he thinks now what others think he thinks.