More than just the most influential chef of the late-twentieth and early-twenty- first century, Ferran Adrià is arguably the greatest culinary revolutionary of our time. Hailed as a genius and a prophet by fellow chefs, worshipped (if often misunderstood) by critics and lay diners alike, Adrià is imitated and paid homage to in professional kitchens, and more than a few private ones, all over the world. A reservation at his one and only restaurant, El Bulli, is so coveted that scoring a table is harder than nabbing fifty-yardline tickets to the Super Bowl.
In his lively close-up portrait of Adrià, award-winning food writer Colman Andrews traces this groundbreaking chef's rise from resort-hotel dishwasher to culinary deity, and the evolution of El Bulli from a German-owned beach bar into the establishment voted annually by an international jury to be "the world's best restaurant." Taking the reader from Adrià's Franco-era childhood near Barcelona through El Bulli's wildly creative "disco-beach" days and into the modern-day creative wonderland of Adrià's restaurant kitchen and the workshop- laboratory where his innovations are born and refined, Andrews blends sweeping storytelling with culinary history to explore Adrià's extraordinary contributions to the way we eat.
Through original techniques like deconstruction, spherification, and the creation of culinary foams and airs, Adrià has profoundly reimagined the basic characteristics of food's forms, while celebrating and intensifying the natural flavors of his raw materials. Yet, argues Andrews, these innovations may not be his most impressive achievements. Instead, Adrià's sheer creativity and courageous imagination are his true genius-a genius that transcends the chef's métier and can inspire and enlighten all of us.
Entertaining and intimate, Ferran brings to life the most exciting food movement of our time and illuminates the ways in which Adrià has changed our world- forever altering our understanding and appreciation of food and cooking.
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For reviewer, writer, and editor Colman Andrews, restaurants have been his playground, his theater, his university, his church, his refuge. The establishments he has loved have not only influenced culinary trends at home and abroad, but represent the changing history and culture of food in America and Western Europe. From his usual table, he has watched the growth of Nouvelle Cuisine and fusion cuisine; the organic and locavore movements; nose-to-tail eating; and so-called “molecular gastronomy.”
In My Usual Table, Andrews interweaves his own story—from growing up in the sunset years of Hollywood’s golden age to traveling the world in pursuit of great food—with tales of the restaurants, chefs, and restaurateurs who are emblematic of the revolutions great and small that have forever changed the way we eat, cook, and think about food.