Ceci n’est pas un dîner
Two of the world’s most inquisitive minds in food and wine, elbulli’s Ferran Adrià and Dom Pérignon’s Richard Geoffroy, orchestrate an unforgettable evening of champagne, molecular gastronomy—and a new way of thinking, writes Charmaine Mok
The late afternoon sunlight streams through the windows of the Andaz Hotel in Tokyo’s moneyed Toranomon Hills. It’s a warm day in May and the room is abuzz with press. At the centre stands a small but familiar figure with his characteristic fuzzy crop of salt-and-pepper hair and quick, alert eyes that give away the constant whirring of his mind. Ferran Adrià is a humble god among men, the 53-year-old Catalan chef who for decades led the charge at elbulli on Spain’s Costa Brava.
It has been four years since the world’s most famous restaurant served its last meal, and more than two since it was transformed into the elbulli Foundation, an educational centre following Adrià’s philosophy of “eating knowledge for feeding creativity.” But this evening, elbulli the restaurant will come alive once more, thanks to the vision of Dom Pérignon’s cellar master, Richard Geoffroy.
Like Adrià, Geoffroy is a character, with an intense gaze magnified by thick glasses, and thin wispy hair that stands on end, as though electrified by his thoughts. His friendship with the chef goes back more than 20 years, a
lengthy dance of innovation and collaboration that has forged a mutual respect for each other’s craft: of food and of champagne.
“I remember that moment when we gathered in the kitchen. I think I saw you crying, maybe,” he says to Adrià, reccalling the final service at the restaurant in July 2011. “You hung up your apron. And today, we are proud because we have made you put that apron back on, for the specific and exquisite purpose of our collaboration.”
The two are clearly creators as well as curators; they come from different cultures and backgrounds yet share the same ambition to innovate, share and transmit. This ambition has drawn them to “Dom Pérignon Decoding,” an unprecedented three-year project with no set agenda other than to explore, metaphorically, the DNA of the elite champagne brand through the prism of the elbulli thought process.
“For so long we [Dom Pérignon] have been pushing the boundaries of creation ourselves, but we only fear that one could be at a crossroads,” explains Geoffroy. “The brand is so alive, so energised, but we have to keep moving. To forge ahead, we needed a third party.” Cue Adrià and the elbulli Foundation, asking the questions that hopefully will lead
One of the many “snacks” crafted by Ferran Adrià included this canapé of ginger, flowers and yoghurt