THE LAST SUPPERS
Spain’s Ferran Adria and Australia’s Tetsuya Wakuda and Guillaume Brahimi reveal their ideal final feasts
FERRAN ADRIA, head chef at El Bulli restaurant, Roses, Spain: What would be your last meal? I love seafood, so my last meal would be a tasting menu that featured a variety of seafood, prepared in many different ways, and inspired by the cuisine at Kiccho Restaurant in Kyoto, Japan.
Some of the dishes I would like to eat would be bamboo with assorted sashimi; prawns with tuzu; clams, sesame, and nori seaweed soup; roasted fugu; scallops with miso and a clam tart; daikon turnip with abalone and sansho lettuce; kuzu tagliatelle with freshly grated ginger; and mountain potato stuffed with sweet beans and yuzu.
I would finish the meal with fruit from the Amazon I had never tasted before. What would you drink? I would drink champagne, because champagne is magic. The bubbles of an exceptional champagne are like stars of happiness. When I drink a great champagne, my soul is happy. And the setting? I have enjoyed many meals during my life, some of them so marvellous that without a doubt they could be considered as artistic an experience as any museum visit or dance performance, but I had this feeling the most during my visit to Kiccho.
It was on my first trip to Japan. Our hosts told my group that we were going to a unique restaurant in Kyoto, but after going to so many restaurants, we thought it would be difficult to surprise us with the concept of how a restaurant should be.
What was so special about it? How is it different from so many others? Let me try to explain.
First, we took the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto and, after arriving, strolled through the city. We arrived at the restaurant at 7.30pm, Juli Soler, Albert Adria, Oriol Castro, our Japanese friends and myself. We sensed magic as soon as we entered; it was a strange sensation. I feel magic is always impossible to explain.
The restaurant is a Japanese house with a beautiful Zen garden. We crossed the garden, approached the front door, and once inside we saw that it bore no relation to a classic restaurant. There were approximately five or six different rooms, each about 60sq m. The room in which we ate seated eight people and four or five waitresses dressed in kimono were there to serve us. This had a strong impact. We had all been in the best restaurants in the world, but none of them was like this one.
It had incredible atmosphere: the dining room was very Zen, decorated with floral designs and little else. All of this created a magical ambience. We hadn’t even eaten anything yet, but it was already worthwhile just to be there for these sensations.
They first offered us sake from an 18th-century bottle; the bottle was a glass jewel, the most beautiful that I have seen. I had never tasted sake like this either. All this told me that the meal would be as magical as the setting.
The food was traditional Japanese. Each dish was presented on a beautiful tray inside handmade porcelain crockery, some of it more than 100 years old.
Everything was wonderful. It was a gastronomic fiesta. Would there be music? I would like to listen to fusion music and the same Berber music that they have at Yacout restaurant in Marrakech, Morocco. To see Berber musicians performing transports you to ancestral times and places, while at the same time it sounds so progressive and modern. Who would be your companions? My companions would be my wife, my family and my friends. Who would prepare the meal? Daydreaming, I would like to see Auguste Escoffier return to the land of the living after many years away. Then I could taste his cooking in person. For me, when we talk about gastronomy, Escoffier is the icon. I would love to listen to him and to learn, above all, his philosophy. TETSUYA WAKUDA, chef-owner of Tetsuya’s in Sydney: What would be your last meal? My passion is fishing and boating. As my favourite food in the world is tuna, I want my last meal to be like this: I would be on the boat, fishing; we would catch a tuna, let it settle for a few days, and then eat it. I would prepare it in many ways: sashimi, carpaccio, lightly seared, tartare. This is a dream meal for me. What would you drink? I love cold sake, a really good one. A sake maker from Japan would make it for us. And the setting? On a boat of any size, any place; it doesn’t matter to me as long as I am on the water. Would there be music? There would just be the sounds of the water and the wind. Who would be your companions? I would be with my sailing teacher John Whitehead and my fishing teacher Craig McGill. Who would prepare the meal? Myself and Chef II. His name really is II. GUILLAUME BRAHIMI, head chef at Guillaume at Bennelong in Sydney: What would be your last meal? Definitely a multi-course feast, starting with oysters and caviar, followed by some foie gras, then a nice piece of rib eye, and lastly some fromage. What would you drink? I would begin with a couple of Crown Lagers; living in Australia for the past 12 years has made me appreciate Aussie beer. I would then open a bottle of 2000 Domaine Romanee-Conti Le Montrachet, followed by a bottle of 1961 Chateau Latour and — I’m assuming there will be no hangover tomorrow — finish off with a single-malt whisky. And the setting? At home. As a chef, I’m home too little, so it is always a great luxury to be in my house, seated in my favourite wingback chair, with my children bouncing and playing around me. Would there be music? I love opera. I’d like to hear my favourite of all time, Verdi’s LaTraviata. Who would be your companions? My family. I have three daughters, aged one, four and seven, and I am very close to all my family in France. We’re a very Latin bunch, so it would involve lots of talking, hugging, tears and laughter. Who would prepare the meal? Definitely me. My wife has cooked only once for me, and it was when I had a raging fever and was too sick to set foot in the kitchen. Edited extract from MyLastSupper by Melanie Dunea (Bloomsbury, distributed by Allen & Unwin, $59.95). The photography exhibition My Last Supper opens at Crown Melbourne on February 26.
Magical meal: Ferran Adria and friends
Wizards of Oz:
Tetsuya Wakuda, left, and Guillaume Brahimi