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

Hong Kong Tatler - - Life -

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

SEAM­LESS

One of the many “snacks” crafted by Fer­ran Adrià in­cluded this canapé of ginger, flow­ers and yo­ghurt

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