Being the younger brother of Ferran Adrià is a double-edged sword.
Albert Adrià prefers to have his last name, rather than not having it at all. Being the younger brother of Ferran Adrià – one of world’s most renowned Michelin-starred chefs – is a double-edged sword. The last name infinitely comes with colossal expectations. Albert is calm, collected, clearly disciplined with decades of vigorous creative training. He could easily take full credit for all that he has accomplished outside of elBulli – one of the most progressive restaurants and culinary training camps in the world; but he is a man of modesty and gives prodigious acclaim to his team, who he calls: family.
The younger Adrià began his career in the kitchen at age 15, and worked at elBuilli with Ferran, who started in the famed restaurant in 1983. Albert’s time at elBuilli mainly revolved around pastry, “I’m actually allergic to crustaceans, so I gravitated toward an arena that appeared as a white canvas.” He candidly opens up,
With pastries, I can create whatever I want, it’s an open book. There’s something very technical about it, if I mess up, it can be tasted. Whereas with food, you can put some salt or add something else to correct it.
With the precision and technicality in its realm, he shines as one of the best pastry chefs in the world, innovating imaginative designs and revolutionary tastes in each creation.
Regardless of how beautiful his inceptions arrive on plates, he feels that art is indeed something without value. So his objective is oriented in selling happiness. “We have very close contact with everyone eating here, we want them to leave happy.” He indicates, “Even with the economic crisis, clients still come and enjoy themselves. Our staff have direct communication with each customer, especially with those who bring families, if we capture the kids’ interest in food, the family sees it. If the kids love our food, then we have their families for life.”
Communication is a hefty ingredient in the success of his endeavor, TICKETS, a restaurant located in the Paral-lel district of Barcelona, an area in the city that was built on the culture of cinema, theater and Broadway shows. Albert worked in elBulli until 2008, knowing that it would be closing soon, he took a year off and began putting together plans for Tickets and 41 Degrees. Due to the history of Paral-lel, both venues obtain ultimate experiences of eating and satiating. “The reason why it’s called Tickets is because we sell tickets to a show, every night.” Albert walks through the space that connects both restaurants, “The show is to eat. We have a theme because we’re on this particular street, representing an attraction in the district.”
Tickets is embellished with accents of circus uniforms that shout “La Vida Tapas,” complimenting the drama upon clients’ pallets with polished tapas that define true gastronomy, the perfect combination of: science, art and cooking that reflect upon fresh Catalan produce and local ingredients. From the internationally renowned Olive-S by Tickets, slices of tuna belly (with its tartare, panceta and salmon roe,) its highest selection of oysters, “mollette” with double chin, liquid ravioli of Payoyo cheese, to “The Forest” dessert; all are efficiently made from various cook stations that embrace interior gates of the restaurant. Albert embraced the idea of inserting such stations from a trip to China, “they allow us to be fast, orderly and clean.” With separate stations for cold and hot entrees, one for grill, one for oysters, olives and hams, another for sweets; he explains,
Whatever people want, we’ll serve to the customer. The first station always has the most people to begin with, but their orders begin to move their ways up the stations. In this approach, we serve more people in a faster and more efficient manner.
Tickets is restricted to solely internet booking that works upon the theory of: first come, first serve. Peerless democracy is how he provides the experience of outstanding dining, he firmly believes that great food belongs to everyone, not just to the rich and the powerful.
As a fan of Barca (FC Barcelona,) Albert compares his cooking to the dedication of a soccer player. The moment he stops having fun, will be the moment that he stops working. “The Barcelona team is similar to elBulli, with the changes they went through being similar to the same changes that elBuilli went through.” He notes the similarity between soccer and restaurant,
The Barcelona team all grew up together, they all started at 12 years old. I feel the same way about our restaurants, we all grew up together. I feel like communication is important. Here, we have a lot of meetings, everyone is always communicative.
Like anything in life, communication is key.
In the organization, he is the general who never gets shot in the battle. But outside of the hierarchy that resides in every kitchen, he regards his team as his family. Work becomes incessantly busy, so the kitchen evolves to a home of passion. “At Tickets, it’s the first time that I’m truly cooking since I was previously known for my pastries. So I don’t like to think that I cook by myself. Without my team, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.” He’s made the chefs. From his sentiments, however, the chefs also make him.
Presently in preparation for a Mexican restaurant and a Japanese/Peruvian fusion restaurant, he acknowledges that being a world-famous chef isn’t a job, it’s a way of life. When the pressure hits, chef Adrià humbly gravels at the feet of exuberant expectations, “I’m getting better at dealing with it. I get better every year.”
To make reservations for Tickets in Barcelona, visit here. (Note: it’s almost always booked up months in advance, so plan early!)