Author(s): Lisa Abend
A compelling and vivid account of life inside the kitchen of the world's most famous restaurant: 'El Bulli'
El Bulli has become the stuff of legend: each year, every single reservation for the 30-course extravaganza that constitutes dinner at El Bulli disappears in a day.
A gripping behind-the-scenes expose of life in a professional kitchen in the mode of Kitchen Confidential
El Bulli will close its doors for the last time in December 2011 so it will be a big talking point throughout the year. It is, arguably, the most famous restaurant in the world and perhaps one of the most significant and influential ever: the legendary 'el Bulli' in Catalonia has attained a near mythic reputation for culinary wizardry. But what actually goes on behind the scenes? What is the daily reality of life in the world's greatest kitchen?
The Sorcerer's Apprentices tells first-hand the story of a young chef enrolled in the restaurant's legendary training course. It shows her struggle to adapt to the culture shock of el Bulli, how she and the other apprentices learn to push themselves and the limits of their culinary abilities, how they adjust to a style of cooking that is creative in the extreme and how they deal with the pressures of performing at the highest level night after night. In past years stagiers have clashed with the rather severe demeanour of Oriol Castro, the restaurant's chef de cuisine; others have gone on to work permanently at the restaurant. One, inevitably, is sent home each year, unable to fit into the high-wire act that is the el Bulli kitchen. Complicating things even more, the stagiers live together in shared apartments, so the events and emotions of their personal lives bleed more than usual into the professional. The Sorcerer's Apprentices tells these smaller, more human stories as well. At its heart, The Sorcerer's Apprentices is a quest: it tells the tale of a handful of aspiring young men and women who submit themselves to a gruelling challenge in order to be made better by it. It also offers an unprecedented, behind-the-scenes look at the most famous restaurant in the world through the lens of those who, ultimately, make it work.
Lisa Abend is journalist based in Madrid. For the past three years, she has been Time magazine's correspondent in Spain. Her real love, though, is food writing. She contributes regularly to all the major American food magazines. Her food writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Slate and the Christian Science Monitor.