Book Review

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The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adria’s elBulli is based on endless hours of mastering ordinary, dull and routine tasks of dozens of chefs in a small space following strict protocol and a military-like hierarchy. These are indeed the secrets of success behind the curtain at elBulli which is the most creative, innovative kitchen in the world.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adria’s elBulli is a book by Lisa Abend. The author follows a group of apprentices through a season behind the scenes at elBulli. The apprentices, obtain a once in a lifetime opportunity, to work alongside the most famous chef of their time. Adria is as much of an inventor as he is a chef. He is a modern day Da Vinci who uses plates as his canvas and food as his paints. Thus it would be a dream of every amateur chef to have a chance to learn from this master chef.

The initial chapters of the book were the most engaging as Abend brings all the action behind the scenes with the group of new recruits. Later anxiety is build up as readers enter into the intense world of the elBulli kitchen. The level of militaristic control was surprising. The combination of such order with the mind blowing creativity of the culinary output appeals to readers a lot.

In today’s ultra-casual workplace, one would find it refreshing to hear of a place where being late matters – so much that accuser will be fired if it happens more than once. Perfection is sought after with every action and detail and anything less is not accepted. Together, each person must carry his or her weight so that together, the team forms a fast-paced machine that accomplishes the unthinkable night after night. Anyone running a business or managing operations should read this book – strict rules, accountability and two-way respect can have great results. (Carol M.)

The Sorcerer’s Apprentices reads like a suspense novel at times. Even non-food lovers would enjoy the drama. Because Abend follows elBulli through the lives of the apprentices, the reader is able to relate to the characters, their dreams, trials and tribulations like those of an engrossing fictional tale. The accounts of carrot foam, caviar made from spheres of olive oil and fetal pigs’ tails continue to keep this non-fiction account from being too heavily grounded in reality. The Sorcerer’s Apprentices would be mouth watering not in terms of food descriptions but also in the suspense it brings!

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