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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2011
Lisa Abend is a fantastic writer who did an amazing job in capturing the aspirations and training of the stagiaires behind elBulli. Starting the book with elaborations of kitchen lingo like "quemo" and "oído", the author immediately hooks the reader into behind-the-scene in chef Ferran Adrià's kitchen. She described how each stagiaire came to become a stagiaire at elBulli with a journalistic understanding of their background and she went on to make each character alive in the reader's eyes. Fabulous read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2011
As I read into the book, I couldn't wait to see how stagiaires who were followed in the "plot" would end up at ElBulli, in their culinary as well as personal lives, and how they would fare beyond their apprenticeships. This is a book "non-foodies" as well as "foodies".Thoroughly enjoyable reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2011
This is a great book that really gives a look at what happens on a daily basis at the most famous restaurant in the world. Abend does a good job of describing what it's like to work at elBullis from the perspective of lowest man (sometimes woman) on the totem pole. We begin to not only see and understand Adria's magically creative process but also realize that within the execution of the final product lies hours of monotonous work by those who want nothing more than to say they learned from the master.

The only reason I give it four stars is that at points the story can really slow down and become laborious as it describes yet another apprentices concerns about their future or whether they are getting the experience they expected. If I could I'd give it 4.5 stars because I think Abend does as much as she can with the material and her chosen angle. I'm glad she went down the road she did because it would have been very easy to write a fawning book about Adria's genius without bringing anything new to the table.

Overall, if you enjoy food, creativity, and understanding what drives people to do things like work 6 months and 12 hours a day for free you will enjoy this book. If you're interested enough in elBulli, its style of cooking, and its place in the pantheon of restaurants, to have found this book- you should probably read it.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2011
This book is on Entertainment Weekly's "Must List" this week, and I can't agree more! I haven't finished it yet, but already, I don't want it to end. Abend really brings it all to life.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2011
Can we learn to be creative by sitting at the feet of a great artist? That is the central question Lisa Abend addresses as she follows 37 "stagiaires" (apprentices) through a season at El Bulli, Ferran Adria's acclaimed restaurant in Roses, Spain. These young chefs work 14-hour shifts for no pay, days and nights full of demanding, stressful and soul-crushingly monotonous work, just for the opportunity to be near Adria. In the end, many of them find the experience to be life-changing. This is not another kitchen tell-all in the Anthony Bourdain style, nor is it another homage to a great chef; there are plenty of those on the market already. I found it a fascinating look at what young, dedicated chefs will endure as they strive to become creative artists with their own visions. Abend is an excellent, insightful writer.
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VINE VOICEon December 29, 2011
Lisa Abend has given us the narrative of a year in what has been called the greatest restaurant in the world. She takes us behind the scenes, into a kitchen where a huge staff of apprentice cooks makes possible tremendously expensive multi-course dinners with wildly imaginative ingredients and presentations for crowds of fawning foodies from around the globe. We learn that these young chefs are unpaid during their time (and must even pay for their parting celebration dinner "given" by Adria) and that they often spend the entire time of their apprenticeships in only a few specific--and often monotonous and unchallenging--tasks.

If you are looking for details on the "molecularized cuisine" that Ferran Adria has developed and championed over the years, this is not the book. However, if you have an interest in what life is "really like" behind the swinging kitchen doors, Abend's story will keep you interested. If you are like me, you may find that you will finish the book with some rather negative feelings about the cavalier way that the staff seems to be treated as well as the overall approach to food in general. Abend references a growing division in the culinary world between Adria's high tech approach and the proponents of local cuisine using more natural ingredients; her narrative and recording of some of the musings of Adria and his staff may well lead many readers to consider the primacy of the more natural approach. If for no other reason, that may be a good reason to read this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2011
This is a great book, I did not want it to end, and also motivated me to do more cooking and see ingredients in new ways.
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on November 8, 2011
I enjoy the book. It gives an intimte portrait of El bulli and all the creative people behind it. Their challenge, their hard work, their passion, ambitions, and their worries.
The book intercepted the- behind the screen- creative process of el bulli with snippet of its staff/stagiaries' personal life. I find it interesting to read about all characters from such different backgrounds, with different peronalities and goal, but they share the same passion for food. And not to mention, their dedication to their craft. An inspiring reading indeed.
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on June 9, 2013
A great insight into what was one of the greatest restaurant kitchens. Lisa Abend's writing style made the book easy to read and interesting.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2012
This book could have been a lot better, if it wasn't filled with irrelevant and repetitive information. Near the end I really had to oblige myself to complete it. The style of writing is a bit tiresome as well. In between the filler there was some interesting information about the restaurants' workings though, and in the end I was glad to have gotten a glimpse of what working in Adria's kitchen must have been like.
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