Reading Ferran Adria’s latest musings on the future of food, I’m left wondering whether he plans to invent the edible computer. Because I’ve read his BBC article about trying to “discover the genome of cuisine”, whatever that is, several times, and I’m still left wondering what the hell he is talking about.
The celebrity chef, who closed El Bulli, widely regarded as the best restaurant in the world, last year, says his next recipe involves a sprinkling of algorithms, a pinch of digital technology, an emulsion of raw data, and a few generous glugs of innovation to create La Bullipedia (catchy name) - an online, curated database that, he claims, “will one day contain every piece of gastronomic knowledge” and change the way people think about food forever.
Or at least that’s what I think he is saying, because when you actually cut through the jargon and nerd speak it all reads like a badly-written press release, typed by someone in the PR office who should have left half an hour ago.
“Cooking shares many characteristics with the internet - both are the sum of many parts and both enjoy the rare gift of limitless potential. Digital technology, when combined with innovation, plays a key role to unlocking this potential,” he writes.
“I firmly believe that as a chef if you only speak to other cooks you'll get bored. Bullipedia uses cooking as a language...” etc etc.
But hang on, haven’t we got this already? Isn’t every bit of culinary knowledge you are ever likely to never need already just a few clicks away on the internet? No, apparently, according to the Spanish chef.
“The internet on its own is limited because information can be found without the need to actually acquire knowledge. We want people to acquire knowledge through the navigation of information,” he says.
So by navigating for information, people will automatically understand it? Is that what he’s saying? Even James Martin?
He goes on: “We are taking fundamental aspects of digital technology such as algorithms and data and applying it to food. We are putting the combined knowledge of El Bulli online where people can adapt and modify it, and draw inspiration from some of the most innovative recipes ever created.
“Technology is now helping to provide future generations of creatives with the tools that they need to be innovative. It is acting as an enabler, connector and collaborator. I believe that it will now sit at the heart of gastronomy and be a fundamental driver of innovation in the industry.
“We have journeyed part of the way to discovering the genome of cuisine. Digital technology will allow us to take the final step.”
Blimey, I’m confused already. Can’t wait for the bandwagon jumping from celebrity chefs and other culinary media whores if Bullshitpedia does become a success. Gregg Wallace leering at MasterChef contestants while tapping his Rolex: “Now, how you doing your nanobytes?”
We’ve had local, seasonal, molecular gastronomy, small plates, big plates, sharing plates, heritage meats, foam, ingredient reversals, deconstruction, sous vide, freshly-foraged weeds, cup cakes, and now this - digital gastronomy.
Hasn’t cooking suffered enough already? Perhaps Adria should stick to advertising Pepsi? That’s an organisation that breeds innovation through collaboration and creative auditing by tracking the developments and inventions of other companies.