i’ve never witnessed a grown man yelp like a little girl before…

…until I saw Hooni meet Ferran Adria.

Ferran Adria, chef of elBulli fame, came to Harvard (where I’m studying public policy.  Yes, a subject far removed from food, I know) to give a public lecture with Jose Andres, with Harold McGee sitting at the table with them. Andres, the guy who has several highly rated restaurants in DC and is all about molecular gastronomy, pretty much came up to Cambridge to serve as Adria’s translator for the entire night. I scored these highly coveted and limited tickets by chance and of course invited the only guy I know who cooks to see these food icons in person.

Ferran Adria is teaching a course this semester at Harvard (for undergrads only, which is totally unfair) titled “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter” — featuring guest chefs like Wylie Dufresne of wd-50, Grant Achatz of Alinea, and Dan Barber of Blue Hill.  To expand the wealth of knowledge beyond the undergraduate labs, there are several public lectures scheduled to be given by these guest chefs, but this event headlined by Adria, Andres, and McGee required tickets reserved in advance.

Adria showed the audience a few cool tricks and talked about his restaurant, but the highlight of the evening was simply hearing him speak of his affair with food as a daily journey of curiosity and emotion.  You could tell that food was more than a profession to him — it was a special treasure that he was (and is) willing to share with the rest of the world.  Not a lot of chefs are willing to reveal even a shred of their tradecraft, but Adria is closing his Michelin three-star restaurant for two years to devote his time and energy into a non-profit foundation in which younger chefs can be challenged to create new dimensions — and the next future — of food.

Spanish beer was freely flowing while the two chefs signed books immediately after the event.  Being impatient New Yorkers, we quickly stood in line to get autographs and were successful in getting the fourth spot in the queue of groupies.  I swear, I’ve never ever seen a grown man giggle with excitement like that before.  The last time I was ever that giddy was when I met Nick Lachey (98 Degrees fan here, I grew up in the boy band-era) at a club in the Meatpacking District and told him that I was his fan ever since their “Invisible Man” days.

Anyway, Jose Andres perked up with excitement when Hooni took his Danji business card out to get it autographed by them.  He asked what modern Korean food was, when the restaurant would open, and whether Hooni could give him and Ferran Adria a tasting when they come to NY in a month.  Andres is going to open a Chinese-Mexican restaurant in Vegas next and was serious enough to tell his executive assistant to be in touch with Danji.

Pretty cool, eh?


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