Gastronomy News

Ferran Adrià: "Female chefs? Still underpaid in 2024: we are losing talents."

Alessandra Meldolesi
copertina ferran adria Lluis Gene AFP

Whether the sky is laden with storms or radiantly clear, the same glass ceiling stretches above kitchens, as reported by Ferran Adrià, who believes that gender discrimination in the kitchen can be detrimental to the entire industry.

Cover photo: @Lluis Gene, AFP

The opinion

It was July 30, 2011, when Ferran Adrià, the founder of contemporary gastronomy, hung up his toque. Since then, he has certainly not been idle: last June he transformed elBulli into a museum called elBulli1846, codified gastronomic knowledge in a vast encyclopedia, the Bullipedia, and has never stopped deciphering the trends and vulnerabilities of cuisine, playing the role of an old sage now estranged from the game.

ferran adria Pepo segura
@Pepo Segura

"ElBulli had to close to stay alive," he ponders in an interview with Rolling Pin. "Our ultimate goal was to create and investigate high-end gastronomy processes. Something increasingly difficult in modern hospitality. We wanted to revolutionize. Today, spherification and similar techniques are commonly used methods, like grilling a steak properly. But we always wanted to discover something new. It was a monstrous tension that we imposed on ourselves."

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ElBulli, moreover, has never been just a restaurant: there was elBulli Catering, which funded research, and there were already university and interdisciplinary collaborations, which in the museum represent the restaurant's projection into the future. Then there's Sapiens, the creative process development system. Challenges that Adrià claims to have faced alone, without backers: "There is a lack of time and money for these things. They don't pay the rent and bills, it's the guests who do that. Many of them, however, are returning to the old ways and hindering innovation. But this way, innovation will stop, and there will be no more creative restaurants. That's why every day I sit at my desk to study."

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His focus is on the creativity of the world's best restaurants, evaluated through guides. Of the 7 million existing establishments, 3370 are starred, and of these, 140 have three stars, but only 40 or 50 stand out in international rankings. Estimating the creativity rate can be scientific and help chefs who want to innovate refine their processes. For this, not only young motivated talents are needed but also consideration, funding, and scientific tools. However, the younger generations would start with an advantage, being able to benefit from the tools that Adrià is preparing to share his knowledge with.

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Current priorities? "Passion, thirst for knowledge, wisdom. Knowing nouvelle cuisine, its techniques, and innovations. Knowing and using methods to innovate, naturally sharing knowledge. Justice in the industry. Women must be encouraged! It's not acceptable that there is still such a significant difference in salaries. This must change. We will lose all female creativity if we do not take action. When the museum closes, we work in it, doing the same things as when it was a restaurant. We develop new techniques, search for talents, and investigate creativity for thirteen years now."

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