Ferran Adrià: The Brilliant Chef That Reinvented The Siphon

Ferran Adrià is a Spanish chef that became known for using the siphon to create foams for the first time. Ferran's use of this new technique brought about an entirely new way of cooking which will no doubt have a lasting impact on how food is made forevermore.
Photo from  Great Chefs
Photo from Great Chefs

Ferran Adrià is the first chef that used the siphon to create foams and this is why is considered one of the godfathers of molecular gastronomy. In the 70’s he worked in El Bulli restaurant where he started to experiment with new techniques and recipes. He had the intuition of using the siphon to make foam out of ingredients that were never whipped before. He explained that “I was fascinated by the idea of trying to transform something into a foam, but I didn’t have much experience with it—only one recipe for mushroom jelly in the Larousse Gastronomique.”

Photo by Fine Dining Lovers

The career of Ferran Adrià

His restaurant was awarded the best in the world from 2006 to 2009 and as a result, he has been called “the greatest chef in the world”. He also received several awards such as the National Gastronomy Prize of Spain or Andalucía Gastronomy Capital Prize. He is currently considered a cult figure among chefs worldwide for starting a revolution in the culinary scene in which he began to experiment with food in a different way.

His restaurant El Bulli was located in Roses, a little town at the Costa Brava. It was closed in 2011 and it is currently considered one of the most influential restaurants ever. Now, Adrià travels around the globe with his brother Albert and explains how to prepare some dishes from his old restaurant. Ferran is also currently working on a new project called “elBulli1846” which will be an experimental culinary center open to the public.

A siphon and a great intuition

But when did it all begin? Ferran Adrià has stated that when he was young he had no interest in cooking and that when he was fourteen, his mum forced him to work in a restaurant just because she wanted him out of her hair. He ended up working as a dishwasher. He also began as a dishwasher in El Bulli, after he failed to be received at the French Laundry kitchen.

He is now one of the most respected chefs in history and one of the pioneers of avant-garde cuisine, what was his secret? How did he manage to become on of the best chefs in the world? Was it luck? Was it his fame or fortune that got him to where he is now? Or was it indeed, as Ferran says himself, his intuition. ‘For every dish, you have to have an intuition about what you are going on’, says Ferran.

Ferran Adrià has always been a very intuitive person. He has often said that being an artist meant having a certain freedom and letting his mind wonder, this is how at the age of 18, he had the idea to become a cook, which back then seemed crazy. At no point did Adrià think that his idea was wrong and he let his intuition guide him to where he is now: one of if not the best chef in history.

Ferran Adrià using a siphon. Photo by Google Arts & Culture

The first time he used the siphon was to create a mushroom jelly, but then he decided to use it again in his restaurant El Bulli for other dishes. It is 1994. This date marks the birth of creative scientific cuisine and the rise of this famous chef, nicknamed ‘Mister Siphon’ at the time. Today the most popular chefs in the world create salmon, tomato and white chocolate foams thanks to the siphon and thank to him. The chef Massimo Bottura has even invented that one of mortadella.

French Gastronomy professionals were not fans of this tool which they thought resembled more an industrial process than a delicious gourmet meal. But one day Ferran Adrià served a codfish foam with sea-urchin mousse and the gastronomic world changed forever.

His most famous foams are probably the ones made with olive oil, created by letting it run out of an inverted siphon into a bowl containing lemon juice. He also famously created chocolate foams, produced in the same way but using melted chocolate instead of olive oil.

Inspiring chefs worldwide

Ferran Adrià is recognized by everyone as the person responsible for changing our way of cooking and he is an inspiration for many chefs worldwide. Even though there were several men before him who used the siphon for cooking, he was the first to use it in an original way; nobody did this before and today he is still one of the few chefs that uses his creativity with the siphon, which show us that even if you do not have a vast knowledge in chemistry and physics in general you can make amazing dishes.

He opened the minds of many cooks who now use this tool at their restaurants. Today, there are several restaurants that are inspired by his style of cooking and use the siphon to reproduce some of his recipes.

Buy the complete Smartwhip system here and create your own molecular gastronomy dishes. Visit our recipes page and find a range of recipes on culinary foams, rapid infusions, cocktails and much, much more for inspiration. 

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