MILAN (AP) — Famed Spanish chef Ferran Adria is cooking Thursday for an outside event for the first time since closing his three-star Michelin restaurant.
Adria told The Associated Press he's making a "huge exception" by agreeing to make a dish for a dinner Thursday to launch Italian coffee-maker Lavazza's 2014 calendar. He said he's received "requests every day" to cook elsewhere since closing elBulli in 2011.
The avant-garde chef is reprising an historic 1992 dish: Granizado de tomate, an iced tomato and almond starter.
"It is gift for the Lavazza family," he said.
An image of Adria inside a thought-bubble full of foodstuffs — both exotic and ordinary — graces the cover of Lavazza's calendar, which features photographs of seven of the world's top chefs by German photographer Martin Schoeller. Five other chefs also are cooking for the dinner.
Adria closed his restaurant at the height of its success to devote time to his elBulli foundation and other projects. He says he has been busier than ever.
He is currently preparing an exhaustive classification of foods, called a "Map of Culinary Process: Decoding the Genome of Cuisine," that he promises "will be a shock" when he unveils it next year.
He gives an example: "Espresso is not coffee. It is not just a beverage. Espresso is an elaboration of coffee. It is cooking." Likewise, he said, mayonnaise is not a condiment or a sauce, it is an emulsion "that can be used as a sauce, or a condiment, or as a filling for ravioli."
"A chef that understands that will cook in a completely different way," he said through a Spanish interpreter.
Adria welcomes what he sees as a global burst in culinary creativity.
"The most important thing of the last eight, let's say 10 years, is the global plurality of cuisine. In Denmark, Peru, Mexico, what do I know, Thailand, there is creative contemporary cooking. And this was unthinkable," Adria said, calling it a paradigm shift. "Any chef, in any country can be creative."
Still, he said he doubts the era will bring a new avant-garde movement like in Spain during the 1990s, when he was deconstructing the culinary foams that helped bring him global renown.
"That was very radical. I am still controversial," he said. "It is difficult that there will be an avant-garde in this generation."