The culinary genius behind Tickets in Barcelona has dedicated much of his career to pioneering new pastry techniques
After a meal at Tickets, guests are ushered into a room that’s redolent of an acid trip in a sweet shop. Giant ceramic berries hang from the ceiling, Willy Wonka clips from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory loop on wall-mounted TV screens and a subtle aroma of fruit permeates the air.
Within the open kitchen, serious-looking chefs make playful desserts. ‘Pancakes’ look like the real deal but are actually constructed from an impossibly thin layer of caramelised sugar and filled with a cloud-like rum cream; a delicate liquid of lychee and rose water is encased in an equally fragile sphere and presented in the middle of a rose.
The tweezer-wielding chef responsible for this jaw-dropping technical wizardry is Albert Adrià. While his brother Ferran is considerably more famous, insiders know that the younger sibling was also instrumental in the world-renowned success of El Bulli.
Adrià headed the seminal Roses restaurant’s pastry section for many years, and latterly led its development kitchen in Barcelona. His brother would be the first to concede that El Bulli would not have become the most influential restaurant of the modern era without Albert’s input.
Adrià started working at El Bulli at 15. He cooked his way round the restaurant’s sections but settled on pastry because of the scope for creativity. “With meat and fish there are restrictions. But pastry is a completely blank canvas. The possibilities are endless,” he says.
It is important to make clear that Adrià does not restrict his output to pastry; he now oversees five restaurants in Barcelona and is a formidable talent when it comes to savoury dishes too.
Over the past two decades, Adrià has pioneered dozens of new techniques, many set out in painstaking detail within the two seminal books he has published on desserts. He has been voted The World’s Best Pastry Chef 2015 in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the global pastry scene. But there’s no resting on laurels, with plans for a new restaurant in 2016 that will serve even more cutting-edge dishes.