Chef Ferran Adria was in town recently. Los Angeles was his only west coast stop to promote his new book “A Day at elBulli”.
A Day at elBulli? I wish!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the chef, a seat at his restaurant elBulli is one of most sought after reservations in the world. They receive over 2 million reservation requests each year, and there are only 8,000 available per season. More Info
On the morning of the book signing, I woke up at 4 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I would be meeting FERRAN ADRIA! He was scheduled to be at the Cook’s Library at 3:30 for a book signing, but I was there by 1:30, nervously telling the staff “I’m a little early for Ferran”. Earlier that morning I called to find out how the event would be organized and was told “first come, first serve”.
The Cook’s Library is a true gem. It’s a small culinary bookstore, just up the street from the Beverly Center. This was my first visit and I fell in love with it instantly. The walls are filled with every cookbook I already own (hundreds) and every single one I have on my Amazon wishlist. Right then, I promised myself to only purchase my cookbooks there. So “bye buy” to my lazy Amazon.com shopping!
Since I was there so early, I sat on the small couch and piled up a stack of books and settled in. I noticed someone across the way doing the same, and I soon learned that she had been waiting for Ferran since 11:30am. Two hours before me! Good. I didn’t seem so freakish after all.
My husband Peter arrived around 2:30 just when it started getting busy. He never takes time off from work, but I insisted he come meet me by saying “it’s like the Pope is in town and we have an audience with him! You CAN’T miss this”! Of course I was also thinking “You have to be there so I can get a picture with Ferran Adria!”. And Honestly, it wouldn’t have been so special if we hadn’t shared it together. The sheer excitement of meeting the man, that many call “the BEST chef in the world”.
To have a book signed by Ferran, it had to be purchased at The Cook’s Library. We bought five copies… each book weighing in at seven pounds! Earlier the staff handed out post-it notes with numbers to help organize the line. Peter and I were number two. I proudly stuck the sticky on his lapel and we continued watching the scene together, as more and more people tried to squeeze into the small store. The line eventually went out the back door into the street.
It was fun to see that the staff was also thrilled to be meeting the famous chef. One of the clerks told us that Ferran Adria’s people had CONTACTED THEM. Ferran himself had picked the Cook’s Library for this book signing, an awesome honor indeed.
At 3:30 all eyes were on the front door. I spotted her first…. Isabel aka Mrs. Ferran Adria. I recognized her from a recent episode of “Made in Spain”, the show hosted by Ferran’s protégé Jose Andres. Mrs. Adria had a small video camera and was proudly filming her husband walking in the book shop. We all cheered and watched Ferran get settled in behind a desk, next to a mountain of books.
When I heard his translator speak, I instantly knew her voice. Lucy Garcia is also Anthony Bourdain’s Spanish translator. I think television is funny because we feel like we actually know the people. It was Lucy who was with Anthony Bourdain on his first visit to elBulli in 2006, “Decoding Ferran Adria” (Season 2, Episode 13). I have it on DVD and it always amazes me. In Bourdain’s recent 2008 Spain episode, Lucy was there again. This time Bourdain was in the elBulli kitchen with Ferran’s equally talented brother, Albert.
By 3:35 Peter and I were standing in front of the great chef with our five copies to be signed. He laughed when he saw our stack of books and thanked us. HE THANKED US. So gracious. He was happy to take photos and made ME feel special by his simple kindness.
That evening, still on my “Ferran Adria High”… I kept thinking about why it felt so special to meet him. He’s not my all time favorite chef… that top honor goes to Mario Batali (the best TV cooking instructor!)…. He doesn’t make my heart pitter patter like Anthony Bourdain or Eric Ripert. And meeting him wasn’t really like “meeting the Pope” (as I said to my husband) because we’re not even catholic!
To sum it up…
Meeting Ferran Adria is like a movie buff meeting Steven Spielberg…
a Star Wars devotee hanging out backstage with composer John Williams…
a Tonight Show viewer waiting for a flight with Johnny Carson in East Africa…
a Van Halen groupie partying with bassist Michael Anthony…
a Pop-Art fanatic bumping into Andy Warhol on 5th Ave.
I’ve been fortunate enough to meet each of them, and now have the pleasure of adding Ferran Adria (the BEST CHEF in the world) to my list of GREATS.
The book is amazing, overwhelming and simply stunning.