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The Sorcerer's Apprentices: A Season at el Bulli

The Sorcerer's Apprentices: A Season at el Bulli [Kindle Edition]

Lisa Abend
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'Written with zest and insight' --Daily Mail

'A terrific read. And because it's just as interested in the people as the recipes, it's fascinating whether you're a foodie or not' --Independent on Sunday

'Vivid and enthralling... lucid and tightly focused... an outstanding food book' --Financial Times Independent

'This brilliantly observed book reveals life at the bottom of the food chain in the finest restaurant on the planet' --Financial Times

'The bulk of her perceptive and scrupulously researched narrative tells a different story, one in which food is both more and less than art' --Times Literary Supplement

Product Description

It was, arguably, the most famous restaurant in the world and perhaps one of the most significant and influential ever: the legendary 'el Bulli' in Catalonia, which closed in 2011, attained a near-mythic reputation for culinary wizardry. But what actually went on behind the scenes? What was the daily reality of life in the world's greatest kitchen?
The Sorcerer's Apprentices tells first-hand the story of a young chef enrolled in the restaurant's legendary training course. It shows her struggle to adapt, how she and the other apprentices learned to push themselves and the limits of their abilities, how they adjusted to a style of cooking that was creative in the extreme and how they dealt with the pressures of performing at the highest level night after night.
In past years stagiares have clashed with the severe demeanour of Oriol Castro, the restaurant's chef de cuisine; others have gone on to work at the restaurant. One was sent home each year, unable to fit into the high-wire act that is the el Bulli kitchen.
Complicating things even more, the stagiares lived together in shared apartments, so the events and emotions of their personal lives bled more than usual into the professional. The Sorcerer's Apprentices tells these smaller, more human stories as well.
At its heart, The Sorcerer's Apprentices is a quest: it tells the tale of a handful of aspiring young people who submitted themselves to a grueling challenge in order to be made better by it. It also offers an unprecedented, behind-the-scenes look at the most famous restaurant in the world, through the lens of those who, ultimately, made it work.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 930 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (14 April 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005A3WHD0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #52,021 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential companion 4 April 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book, thoroughly well written in fluent and accessible language that unobtrusively explains the jargon it necessarily refers to, is an essential companion to the multitude of books which have been published about el Bulli and its food. There's only one recipe in the book, included to illustrate the restaurant's pedantic approach to food preparation rather than for its intrinsic interest. But anyone who's interested in the cultural phenomenon of the Adria brothers and their circle will find this gentle but penetrating study of the personalities involved, and way they behave towards their staff, absolutely fascinating. The story is told, for the most part, from the point of view of the humblest members of the kitchen 'brigade', and is all the better for its 'worm's eye view' of its subject. There are moments when the book's carefully organised scheme, alternating between an account of the restaurant's work and the personal lives of its inhabitants, feels a little too controlled - but perhaps that's no surprise when the subject is so often the control, and the consequent tedium, which is required to maintain el Bulli's standards. Lisa Abend studiously avoids making judgements, whether about the people or the food she's writing about, but in doing so she cleverly succeeds in drawing attention to the need for those judgements. Should people be treated like this, no matter how good the outcome of their labour? Should these edible fancies be called 'food', rather than entertainment? If you're interested in this kind of 'culinary art', whether pro or con, you'll enjoy The Sorcerer's Apprentices and find that it makes an excellent contribution to the debate about 'modern' cooking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Enjoyed the book. It gives a great insight into the lives and day to day work of apprentices at El Bulli. You learn about the apprentices, their motivations, frustrations and achievements. You learn about their daily chores and what it is like to work there.

Implicitly, you also learn about the restaurant and the energy everyone puts into the dishes every night. Other reviews have stated that there is too much detail in the book. I find the details probably reflects Ferran extreme attention to detail and that the apprentices need to grasp that when they repeat the dishes again and again. The downside is that the book does not flow that easily.

I would have preferred a different take on the story though. By taking the apprentices perspective you only learn so much and their insights are sometimes limited. The book therefore only gives you a partial, though interesting view. Would have preferred focusing on how Ferran has succeeded in creating the worlds most innovative restaurant - what it takes, how does he create a creative environment, sourcing of exotic ingredients etc. In many ways the book leaves many of these interesting questions unanswered. To be fair though, the cover says that the book is about the apprentices.

Although I would have liked it to give me a broader insight into the restaurant, I highly recommend it for the apprentices perspective.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb insight 2 May 2011
Im a huge follower of 'modern cooking' and I found this book a terrific insight into the workings of El Bulli. I won't spoil it for anyone but it gives terrific understanding of Adria's thinking and his kitchen structure. I was also fascinated by the outlooks from the stagiers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insight 1 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A good read particularly if you are the industry. A good insight into the inner workings of a three star restaurant. But the author does assume the reader knows Spanish by including Spanish words without there meaning in the middle of sentences. Overall enjoyable.
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