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El Bulli master looks to ancient Chinese cuisine for inspiration

(China Daily)

14:39, August 25, 2011

Ferran Adria talks to China Daily in an exclusive interview on Tuesday in Beijing. Zou Hong / China Daily

BEIJING - Ferran Adria, the master chef known for his avant-garde style, has revealed his desire to stay longer in China to learn the secrets of its cuisine.

"In China, every dish has a story," said the Spaniard during an exclusive interview with China Daily in Beijing. "The Chinese also see a relationship between food and health. That's very interesting.

"We are thinking of coming to China as a team in 2013 for two months, to get inspiration from its ancient cuisine."

Adria, head chef of the world-famous El Bulli restaurant, arrived in China this week as part of a national tour organized by the Spanish Tourism Bureau. He staged a cooking demonstration in Beijing on Tuesday. He has visited Shanghai and is now in Hong Kong.

After closing El Bulli on July 30, Adria announced he was planning to launch the El Bulli Foundation in 2014. It will involve choosing 20 creative chefs from around the world to work with the foundation for one year.

"The only criteria is creativity," he said, adding that he is considering signing an agreement with three or four countries to select chefs. "We'd love China to be part of the agreement."

During his time in the capital, Adria visited Nali Patio, which has a number of Spanish restaurants and shops, and then held a demonstration for invited journalists, chefs and restaurateurs to display his cooking conceptions and techniques.

Although he said Chinese cuisine is not his language, he suggested a new version of xiaolongbao - small steamed pork buns - in which the Shanghai specialty is prepared without its usual flour wrapping. He also talks about agar and candyfloss, which are tradtional food ingredients in China.

Adria first came to China eight years ago, when he visited restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province.

Since then, China's restaurant industry has developed rapidly, according to Bian Jiang, deputy secretary-general of the China Cuisine Association.

"A generation of creative Chinese chefs has emerged that have mastered such skills as molecular gastronomy," he said.

However, Chinese chefs can still learn a lot from Adria's creative thinking, he said, adding: "We plan to send talented chefs to study culinary skills in Spain. We're in talks with the Spanish embassy about that."


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