On a grey day in March, 1985, Albert Adrià, age fifteen, dropped out of school and left home to join his brother Ferran in the kitchen at elBulli, on the Costa Brava of Spain. Ferran had only been there a year, and the restaurant was not yet the temple of groundbreaking gastronomy it would soon become.
Albert remained at elBulli for twenty-three years, taking charge of pastries in 1987, then heading up the workshop where culinary experiments were run. He and his brother became leaders of the molecular trend by pioneering techniques from foam to spherification. At Ferran’s side, Albert helped turn elBulli into the most famous restaurant on the planet, and Spain into the culinary capital. With his extraordinary re-creations of nature, he earned a reputation as the most imaginative pastry chef of his generation.
But it’s not easy working for the world’s best-known restaurant, nor for an older sibling. It is only since leaving elBulli that Albert has really come into his own, as an equal partner with his brother in a number of wildly successful ventures in Barcelona, including Tickets, a circus-like tapas bar, and 41o Experience, a cocktail bar with music, lights, and the fireworks of their cuisine.