Superstar chef Albert Adrià of El Bulli fame is a man who never stops. He’s the brains behind six of sun-kissed Barcelona’s most talked-about eateries, all housed in one corner of the city, which the man himself dubs a ‘culinary amusement park’. Following the exciting launch of his Enigma restaurant that diners require a secret code to get into, Adrià fills Emel and Aris in on what feeds his imagination, what he does in his spare time and what he loves about his city; the jewel in the crown of Catalonia.
You have six restaurants in Barcelona, each distinctly different, where do seek your inspiration for each unique project?
“I’m inspired by international cuisines. I think Nikkei (Japanese-Peruvian) and Mexican are two of the greatest cuisines in the world, and there was an empty vacancy in Barcelona’s restaurant scene to introduce them. This is why I launched my classical Vermouth bar, Bodega 1900, a contemporary tapas bar called Tickets and a cutting-edge cuisine restaurant called Enigma. I simply love how they cook in Peru, Japan and Mexico.”
With your newest restaurant, Enigma, you hoped to ‘reinvent the way we go to restaurants’, is it important for your diners to have an immersive, interactive dining experience?
“At my Spanish restaurant 41º I experimented with immersive and interactive experiences but it was always a provisional exercise. I think Enigma accomplishes a more pure style of cuisine where the diner is always immersed in a different experience, thanks to Barcelona’s excellent seasonal products.”
How have you witnessed Barcelona’s restaurant scene evolve over the past decade?
“Barcelona is a small city, but its gastronomic hubs are very high-end and competitive. The increase in quality of what is being served and number of new openings have been nonstop in recent years.”
What and where was the best meal you’ve ever had in Barcelona?
“In so many different places. I couldn’t choose one in particular because the chefs and owners are all my friends. I will that you can eat extremely well in Barcelona, and there are many good places to choose from.”
Do you have any favorite up-and-coming or off-the-radar restaurants that are doing something really special in Barcelona?
“I really like the work Xavier Pellicer is doing at his eponymous fine dining restaurant to promote vegetarian food and healthy eating.”
Where do you like to go to have fun when the sun sets in Barcelona?
“I prefer to see Barcelona as the sun rises. I often wake up early and jog along the sea front, while the rest of the city is waking up.”
Where do you go to find inspiration in Barcelona?
“The city’s streets inspire me. I enjoying walking through Barcelona at ground level and experiencing its true life and culture. This is what I have inside of me”.
If you had to relocate your restaurants to any city in the world, where would you choose?
“I really love Paris and I’m motivated by a challenge, but I wouldn’t move from Barcelona.”
What are your three favourite Spanish ingredients you couldn’t live without?
“Tomatoes, asparagus and tuna. Diners love tuna when its served as sushi.”
Define Barcelona in three words.
“’Bars, skies and the sea.”
IMAGES: Portrait © El Barri Adria, Enigma restaurant © PepoSegura, Cubo de nori con caviar dish © El Barri Adria