It is time for a moratorium on the phrases Albert Adrià and kid brother. True, Albert was born in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat—a suburb outside Barcelona—on October 20, 1969, to Ginés Adrià and Josefa Acosta, a plasterer and a housewife who, seven years earlier, bore a son named Ferran. Ferran was a prodigy—at soccer. If you ask Albert about his childhood, what he remembers most vividly is el vermut—the golden hour after the family got home from picking Ferran up from practice, when the children would sneak potato chips and olives stuffed with anchovies while the grown-ups exchanged the day’s gossip over small tumblers of vermouth.
Ferran would go on, at El Bulli, to become the world’s most important chef. When Albert was 15 and flailing at school, his father said, “If you don’t want to study, you must go to work.” In 1985, Albert joined Ferran at El Bulli, where he worked for 23 years—most notably in pastry, creating such dishes as parmesan marshmallows and a provocation of a sorbet called Strawberries or Roses? Albert was the brilliant but unseen consigliere, a technical powerhouse who oversaw the restaurant’s seminal research and development division. It’s as difficult to attribute El Bulli’s dishes to specific cooks as it is to figure out who wrote the Gospels, but many of the restaurant’s most mind-blowing tricks, like pumpkin-seed oil encapsulated in sugar bubbles, are reputedly Albert’s brainchildren. He was the quieter, more poetic brother, the savant with the earring.
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