He returns today to the same stage where eight years ago he announced that he closed elBulli, the restaurant that until that time was considered the best in the world. The news travelled all round the world. Ferran Adrià (Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, 1962) is the star this Monday of the Madrid Fusión gastronomic congress, where he will present the calendar of elBulli1846, a laboratory from which he aims to promote innovation. While the project of Cala Montjoi (Girona) starts, which is still the most influential chef on the planet is touring Spain presenting the guide Food and Beverage, prepared with La Caixa and containing the keys to run the room of a restaurant impeccable way. He directs elBullifoundation, a space in which he tries to keep alive the Bullinian legacy, distributed between the hidden cove of Roses and Barcelona, where the LABulligrafía archive will be; He also teaches at Harvard, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is an ambassador for Telefónica, and is still attached to the kitchen with his brother Albert, who manages the elBarri group.
Did you feel the need to return to a gastronomic congress?
I'm back to present elBulli1846, in Cala Montjoi, which will start to be operational in phases. The first will be in April; in September of this year, Lluís García [el director] and the team will turn on the light and start the activity, in which we are accompanied by our partners, Telefónica, Grifols, La Caixa and Lavazza. In January of 2020, the first creative team will be working and in July the apartment will be ready. I'm not going to put pressure because something that is going to be extraordinary must be done in an extraordinary time. In parallel, we will start with LABulligrafía in Barcelona, where we have more than 90,000 stored elements.
Do you have a better time now than cooking?
The kitchen I have never left, what I have left is the management of the restaurant. With my brother Albert I have lived all the projects he has opened. I have understood for seven years what is cooking and what is cooking. And I do not miss the kitchen service, it does not motivate me to create new dishes. Now I have freedom. I get up at 4.30 in the morning to work, because I need three hours a day of maximum tranquility. There are many projects that we have in progress.
What do you intend to contribute to the world of gastronomy at this time?
We will share the knowledge around innovation. In the nineties we already did in elBulli open doors, we have more than 2,000 bullinians distributed all over the world, and now from the Foundation we want to share all this knowledge with the new generations, so that they are the best. Resources are needed because not everyone has access to training, we allocate more than one million euros to generate content and disseminate it.
How is elBullifoundation financed?
We started organizing dinners to raise funds some time ago; with the auction of the elBulli winery we raised 5.5 million euros … It is more important that the resources go to the foundation than to my box. I could have dedicated myself to consulting, but I am more interested in contributing to spreading knowledge and encouraging innovation.
Are you rich?
Being rich is that you do not need anything. I have saved, because that story that elBulli did not earn money is not true. I live a normal life, I do not have a Ferrari, I do not need luxuries, what I need are challenges, and I like to share them. I am lucky to have arrived where I have arrived, and selfishly I want to continue having challenges.
Do you need to continue feeding the ego?
I already have everything, all the prizes I have had and for having. I have my ego covered, but what I want is for the work of El Bulli and all the cooks who made that revolution to be recognized. It is something very difficult that happens again and it is good that it is put in value. Now there are very good people, but either you do something different or you do not stand out. If you do not sell how they will buy you. There is no stopping.
Do you make money with haute cuisine?
If what you do is cutting edge, it's not profitable. It is the purest thing there is. When we created the R & D & I model, we looked for resources outside, as was already done in France. It is difficult to earn money with quality and creativity at a reasonable price.
Dani García closes the restaurant after achieving the third Michelin star; Closing when you're at the top is brave?
It's fantastic. You win the Champions and you go, it is a personal decision that must be respected. We were looking for the vanguard, to open roads, and I found the limits, and I decided that it was better to look for life outside. Carme Ruscalleda has also left and is very well. If it is for an economic issue, that the business is not going well, it is better to close it at the beginning. 50% of the restaurants do not last more than five years and 22%, no more than two years.
Most of the great chefs are men, does diversity not enter the kitchen?
Many girls passed through elBulli, although most of them were men, but this is a matter of time. The talent is linked to the quantity and little by little it will be adapted. I have never looked at talent by gender. We must normalize it and fight for equality, with decent salaries. You can not pay salaries of 800 euros. I'm more worried about people earning decent wages than women being up, because they will be, it's a matter of time.