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

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  277 ratings  ·  37 reviews
The first-ever biography of Ferran Adrià, the chef behind Spain's renowned El Bulli restaurant, by one of the world's foremost food authorities.

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
Paperback, 321 pages
Published December 2010 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published October 7th 2010)
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Eli Hornyak
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and learning about the creative process of the worlds greatest chef!
This book gave me much needed perspective on El Bulli and humbled my foodie aspirations.

I first learned of the restaurant a couple of years ago. My husbands boss is an honest-to-goodness gourmand. He heard we were going to Barcelona for our honeymoon and casually mentioned El Bulli. When Leo remembered this jewel of information a few days into the trip, I sent him down to the hotel reception thinking wed get directions and walk there that night in our flip-flops. The concierge let down Leo
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
I am fascinated by the cuisine of Ferran Adria, so i had high hopes for this book. Not sure what i was hoping for exactly, but i had to believe that someone who has creating such bizarre and elegant dishes would be interesting and interesting to read about. After finishing the book, I can say that i still think that Adria is interesting, but this book is not. The author, Colman Andrews, is a long time veteran of food writing, having founded "Sauveur" magazine and been its editor for many years, ...more
I really like the way this book is structured. Andrews tackles issues of biography, food writing, hype, philosophy, criticism of Ferran, etc. in ways that are thorough but not tedious (unless one is allergic to history and/or food writing) and journalistic in tone (while still somewhat adoring of Ferran). This is not hagiography. But neither is it a take down. It's sympathetic and a bit in awe, but is also trying to peel beneath the hype. Andrews isn't afraid to (and has the skills to) talk up ...more
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 03, 2013 rated it liked it
As much a history of El Bulli as it was a biography of Ferran Adria, it's lauded chef, and more enjoyable for being so. This is a great gateway read for foodies who would like to know more about this man and his restaurant without diving into the science and technique of what they are so famous for. It is amazing that El Bulli, before Ferran and early in his tenure, was often without customers for days on end; and even at the end was losing money every season.
Ferran is hardly the only character
Susetyo Priyojati
This authorized biography of Ferran was written within 2 years and preceded by long-time friendship between the author and the chef. It came out in the perfect timing, the disclosure of Ferran's plan to close elBulli and to turn it into a (research, educative, art?) foundation.
Throughout the book, care has been given to give balanced narration between the restaurant's history, the unfolding of the gastronomic world during the same period, and the story of Ferran himself. I haven't read much
Nov 16, 2011 rated it liked it
While Colman Andrews' prose was clear and unobjectionable, I must admit that parts of this book dragged for me. On one hand, the descriptions of the specific dishes made at El Bulli, as well as the overviews of dinner services, the operations of talier (the restaurant's famed culinary laboratory), the revolutionary culinary techniques pioneered by the El Bulli staff, and the insights into the financial end of the business were all quite engaging; on the other, certain elements, such as the ...more
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Nicely structured, and a fascinating story of how the conditions were built to provide a space where creativity can happen. Especially for someone who clearly has the impulse like the famous Catalan chef. The author sheds light on some of the degrees and layers of...not isolation, maybe distinction...that led to what El Bulli became. An odd, out-of-the-way restaurant. Owners that wanted to make it something spectacular and unique. In a region of Spain that proudly sees itself as apart ...more
Peggy Lo
Dec 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, food
I think the book is very detailed and covers a lot of ground, everything from Ferran's history to El Bulli's history and a great look into the trajectory and future of his work. The work of the Alicia Foundation sounds fascinating. I've never really thought about how his techniques can be used to enhance the nutrition and flavor of food in nursing homes or for those with certain allergies. I wish there are pictures or something that gives the book more life. I know that dishes and techniques are ...more
Dec 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'm about 3/4 through this but his story is amazing.Chefs like Thomas Keller,Charlie Trotter and Marco Pierre White have changed the way the culinary world looks at,and how to make food.But he blows by them in a Ferrari past a Prius.He not only analyzes food in a unique way,but life.I've eaten at awesome places and can describe the food,but reading what I have over the years I couldn't have words to describe what he does.Reviewers have problems with this and they ate there.He's considered the ...more
Sep 12, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is overrated. There are much more engaging books about restaurants and kitchens, and there is little insight into Ferran (little insight or critical thinking of any kind). The most interesting person in the whole book seemed to be the original owner of elBulli. If you are a huge fan, really want to know about this history of the road leading to the restaurant, or want a list of basically everything ever served in a tasting dinner, then this should be right up your alley.
May 24, 2012 rated it did not like it
While I admire Ferran Adria's food and usually love behind-the-scenes food memoirs and other food-related books, this book managed to make the history of one of the world's most interesting restaurants a slog to finish. The author is obviously enamored with Ferran (and very pleased with himself to have gotten the access that he did), but the resulting book is a boring narrative rather than an engaging story.
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
For anyone interested in avant-garde cuisine, I highly recommend this book. I picked it up because I was interested in Ferran Adria specifically, but I learned so much about the history of contemporary cuisine, and even more about Spanish and Catalan cuisine. It's very well written, about people instead of places, and gives great insight into the world of food, restaurants, and critics.
Alma Tello
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
At times bogged down with the minutia of Day to day operations at El Bulli and of Ferran's life. Yet, I found Ferran so down to earth and interesting! His story is inspiring and his creativity is fascinating. I read the book and listened to the audio- the Audio narrator was so boring! It's a good fortune that Ferran Adria's story is so amazing otherwise this would have been a boring journey.
Mar 08, 2011 rated it liked it
A good read, even if the middle section gets somewhat bogged down with minutiae. If you're predisposed to hate the idea of El Bulli's foam-and-fuss style of of cuisine, I think the book offers a pretty balanced counterpoint. Andrews' writing is best when he's documenting the actual behind-the-scenes goings-on inside the kitchen or when he's describing food.
patty ramona
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Throughly enjoyed this book! It was a page turner for me, but I could see how it might not be for all. Having spent time in the area (Roses), along with my interest in Catalan culture and food, it was a winner for me. Lisa Abend's book about ElBulli would be the perfect book to read as a preface. Merci ...more
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Finished late Nov / early Dec 2013

This book dispelled a lot of the myths / prejudices I had against "molecular gastronomy." I enjoyed reading about Ferran's creative process and almost academic approach to cuisine.
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
Slow. Ferran has done so many exciting things and made so many great accomplishments as a chef. This author doesn't use the language for any of that to come across. The last 2 pages show a glimpse into how the mind if this great chef works.
Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Becomeing the "Best Chef in the World" is not an overnight feat. The book does a good job of outlining how what began as a beachside restaurant evolved into the top world dining venue. Certainly the German backer was a resource and mentor who is seldom mentioned.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Parts are super interesting but parts are a bit boring.
Dec 21, 2015 rated it liked it
A bit slow but a very interesting read.
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
I found this book to be repetitive and pedantic. It was interesting in places, but unfortunately was about 100 pages too long.
CRAZY stuff. Kinda put me in a food rut, I mean, how do I begin to find that kind of inspiration and creativity?
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Not one of my fav foodie, Chef biographies. Actually didn't finish it. Just didn't hold my interest like the other Chef biographies that I've completed. Was 'tedious'.
Aug 10, 2012 rated it liked it

I'm glad I read it because it is a great history book - but it was boring and I only understood and half of if with all the Spanish and French terminology. But I learned a ton.
Michael D
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really gets behind the man and the restaurant, shows you who Ferran really is, and it's nothing like the hype
Oct 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: foodie
As much a history of the restaurant as of the man. Engaging, well-written.
Ricardo Marcos
Apr 13, 2013 rated it liked it
A biography. Read it if you want to learn about elBulli and Ferran's professional life. Don;t expect any insights. Again, it is a biography book.
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I just want to eat at El Bulli! So romantical and whimsical!
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Co-founder and former editor of Saveur magazine and the author of Catalan Cuisine, Flavors of the Riviera, and Everything on the Table and co-author and co-editor of three Saveur cookbooks. Now a resident of New York City and Connecticut, a native of Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the LA Times and Los Angeles Magazine. He won six James Beard Awards for his writing on food and wine, and ...more

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