Lisa Abend The Sorcerer's Apprentices

ISBN 13: 9781849833226

The Sorcerer's Apprentices

3.86 avg rating
( 1,122 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9781849833226: The Sorcerer's Apprentices

It is, arguably, the most famous restaurant in the world and perhaps one of the most significant and influential ever: the legendary 'elBulli' in Catalonia has attained a near-mythic reputation for culinary wizardry. This is the story of a young chef enrolled in the restaurant's legendary training course.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Lisa Abend is journalist based in Madrid. For the past three years, she has been Time magazine's correspondent in Spain, where she writes about everything from international terrorism, to climate change, to immigration, to costumed debt collectors (with, needless to say, a fair number of bullfighting stories thrown in for good measure.) As a freelancer, she has written on learning the Basque language for The Atlantic; on volunteer bit torrent translators for Wired; on the plight of Roma women for Ms., on prime minister Zapatero's republican upbringing for The American Prospect; on the recovery of the Iberian lynx for National Wildlife; and on the situation in Western Sahara for The Economist. Her real love, though, is food writing. She contributes regularly to all the major American food magazines, and has written features on a Marrakech cooking school (Bon Appetit); on culinary travels through Extremadura (Gourmet); on a collective of grandmothers in Catalonia who preserve traditional cuisine (Saveur) and on learning to love pig face (Food and Wine). Her food writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, and the Christian Science Monitor. She hosts an upcoming episode on Andalusia in the third season of PBS' Diary of a Foodie. In a previous life (that is, about 5 years ago) she was a professor of Spanish history at Oberlin College.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

one ]

June, or the Machine

Quemo. Quemo. Quemo, quemo, quemo. Quemo. QUE-mo!”

The most important thing the stagiaires learn on their first day at elBulli is this word: quemo. Literally, it means “I burn.” The ones who don’t speak Spanish don’t know that, however, and so, as they mouth the strange word in the early days before it becomes reflex, it comes out a question, one often formed, it seems, in their own language: Kay-moh? QuÉmeau?

At the restaurant, quemo is an all-purpose warning: behind you, coming through, hot stuff, watch your back. There is no room for variation in this kitchen, where forty-five chefs and cooks and stagiaires and dishwashers from different countries are constantly moving, and so one word must carry the burden of many kinds of caution. If you listen closely, you’ll hear it in the background of the louder, more obvious din created by the Thermomix whirring and coconuts being cracked and orders being fired and marrow bones being sawed apart and the occasional plate crashing to the floor. It is always there, like a looped soundtrack, this steady chorus of quemos.

The cooks are supposed to say the word as they round the treacherous bend between the small kitchen and the main one or step through the portal that divides the hot stations from the cold—an alert on a blind curve. Some, however, repeat it as they pass through any crowded area of the kitchen, rhythmically announcing each step— “QUEmoQUEmoQUEmo”—so that the word becomes a mantra against accidental bumping and other calamities. Admittedly, this produces something of a boy-who-cried-wolf situation: how do you know when something really is hot? For that, the kitchen has spontaneously devised variations: quemo mucho for when a cook takes a hot pan from the flattop and turns around to empty its contents at his station—in other words, when something really is hot.

Except for when it isn’t. Aitor Zabala, the chef de partie of Cold Station, says, “Quemo mucho” as he takes a tray of Ponds, delicate glass bowls of ice that will become one of this year’s stellar dishes, and moves them from one freezer to another. In other words, he says “Quemo mucho” not when he is burning a lot but when he is freezing. The other variations are a little more reliable: quemo mÁximo is used for pots of boiling oil and other potentially disfiguring substances. And this being elBulli, at least twice a day comes the warning quemo nitro, as two of the cooks—protective goggles strapped to their heads, a cloud of smoke trailing behind them—haul a tank of liquid nitrogen back to the cold station.

Quemo has its personal variations as well. Katie Button never completely loses the querulous tone of the first day; for her, quemo will always be a question. Luke Jang puts the accent on the second syllable, which has the effect, like so much of what he does, of making his version seem faster, more efficient. For Luis Arrufat, quemo is a kind of personal manifesto, a bellowed I am here!, as if he were the lead in a musical who, having already walked onstage and puffed out his chest, still feels the need to signal that he is about to commence singing. The chefs de cuisine, Eduard Xatruch and Oriol Castro, get away with not saying it at all; it’s a sign of their authority that they can assume that any person with whom they might collide will say it first. When they do use the word, it carries a distinctly didactic tone, as if to say, “Remember? This is how you’re supposed to do it.” Ferran doesn’t have to say “Quemo” either, of course, but he often does, accompanying it with a swift flick of his hands, so that it takes on a meaning unique to him: Would you please get the hell out of my way?

The stagiaires learn another word today, too: oÍdo, or “heard.” Used the way an English speaker might say “roger,” oÍdo is an acknowledgment that you’ve heard what the speaker has said. At elBulli, “oÍdo” is what you say when you are chef de partie and the person expediting has just called an order that will come from your station—you’re acknowledging that you heard the request, and you’ve started working on it. But since oÍdo is a hierarchical signifier—you say it only to those above you—the stagiaires say the word a lot more than anyone else. After all, they are the ones doing the restaurant’s grunt work—cleaning schmutz from the rabbit ears that will be fried into something resembling potato chips, splitting open tuna spines to release the translucent blob of marrow, turning dozens of pieces of rhubarb into something resembling sea cucumbers.

When the stagiaires receive instruction or criticism (We need more ears. You call that a sea cucumber? That’s a fucking zucchini!), they are supposed to reply with “OÍdo”—I heard you, got it, I’m on it. Sometimes Ferran will make a suggestion to the group and then, like a mostly benevolent drill sergeant and his “I can’t HEAR you!,” will ask, “OÍdo, cocina?” On those occasions the stagiaires will respond in unison with their own robust “OÍdo!” But usually the word is uttered by an individual, with varying intonations of enthusiasm or resentment, to demonstrate that he understands what the next task is. For despite the fact that many of them have cooked in important restaurants around the globe—Tetsuya’s, noma, the French Laundry, Alain Ducasse—the thirty-two stagiaires in elBulli’s kitchen are now on the bottom rung of the most famous restaurant in the world. And on the bottom rung, there is always something else to do.

A table at elBulli is the holy grail of reservations for food lovers around the world, but a stage there is even more desirable for young, ambitious cooks. Each year, roughly three thousand apply for the privileged opportunity of passing six months as stagiaires—technically the word means “interns” or “apprentices,” but it translates metaphorically as “kitchen slaves”—at its stove tops. The high regard in which the restaurant is held, as well as the chance to receive instruction from AdriÀ and his chefs, explains why apprentices travel, at their own expense, from Seoul and Bologna and Los Angeles and Caracas to the tiny, overbuilt town of Roses on Spain’s Costa Brava. It is also why they agree to work fourteen hours at a stretch in exchange for one meal a day, a bed in an unattractive apartment, and exactly no pay. It is why they stand practically still for seven of those hours, their feet planted at the center counter, squeezing the germ from thousands of kernels of corn or trimming the slime off anemones. If they make it through the six months that elBulli is open, they are able to say that they have worked in the best restaurant in the world. Luca Balboni, one of 2009’s three Italian stagiaires, puts it like this: “A stage at elBulli is like a baptism. Without it, you’re not really a Christian.”

Yet it wasn’t that long ago that a stage in Spain would have been more like an excommunication. “It would be like saying you were going to go train in Turkey or someplace,” says chef Dan Barber of New York’s Blue Hill restaurant. “Interesting in an ethnographic way, but it would have meant you weren’t serious about cuisine.” Indeed, as late as the 1980s, Spanish food had almost no reputation at all; when expatriates such as Gerry Dawes and Janet Mendel began writing about it, they had to persuade skeptics that there was more to Spanish cuisine than paella and gazpacho. That Spain is now the most exciting and admired place to work for a serious student of cuisine is the result of the labor of dozens of innovative chefs and hundreds of exceptional producers. But in its origins, the phenomenon is almost entirely attributable to Ferran AdriÀ.

The stage is a remnant of Europe’s medieval guilds. In fact, it is older than restaurants themselves and in its traditional form more akin to the voluntary indenturing that a young man would undertake in order to learn to print books than anything you might see on Top Chef. These days, a formal apprenticeship is no longer mandatory for an ambitious chef, and the modern incarnation of the stage is most often an internship arranged by his culinary school—with all the abuse-avoiding oversight and regulation that implies. Or it can be an impromptu passage: a young cook asks to spend a week or a month in the kitchen of an established restaurant, doing the drudge work—peeling the potatoes, cleaning the snails, chopping the garlic—in exchange for the chance to learn from a chef he admires.

But at elBulli, the stage remains a formal training period, with a beginning and end that coincide more or less exactly with the six months that the restaurant is open. Prospective stagiaires send in their applications a year in advance, so that a few months before the season begins, the restaurant has compiled a collection of cooks eager to indenture themselves. With only thirty-two slots to fill, the odds are against most of them. Those who do get in have Marc Cuspinera to thank.

For years, Marc was elBulli’s chef de cuisine, but these days he oversees an odd combination of administrative and design work for the restaurant. With his longish sideburns and gently ironic sense of humor, he could be running a retro record shop in Brooklyn selling vinyl records. Instead, he is in charge of a broad category of tasks at elBulli that include scheduling photo shoots of...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Abend, Lisa
Published by Simon & Schuster Ltd
ISBN 10: 1849833222 ISBN 13: 9781849833226
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Booklot COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster Ltd. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 1849833222. Bookseller Inventory # Z1849833222ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 12.11
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Abend, Lisa
Published by Simon & Schuster Ltd
ISBN 10: 1849833222 ISBN 13: 9781849833226
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
BookShop4U
(PHILADELPHIA, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster Ltd. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 1849833222. Bookseller Inventory # Z1849833222ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 12.11
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Abend, Lisa
Published by Simon & Schuster Ltd
ISBN 10: 1849833222 ISBN 13: 9781849833226
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Vital Products COM LLC
(Southampton, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster Ltd. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 1849833222. Bookseller Inventory # Z1849833222ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 12.11
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Abend, Lisa
Published by Simon & Schuster Ltd
ISBN 10: 1849833222 ISBN 13: 9781849833226
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Qwestbooks COM LLC
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster Ltd. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 1849833222. Bookseller Inventory # Z1849833222ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 12.11
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Abend, Lisa
Published by Simon & Schuster Ltd
ISBN 10: 1849833222 ISBN 13: 9781849833226
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Bookhouse COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster Ltd. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 1849833222. Bookseller Inventory # Z1849833222ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 12.11
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Abend, Lisa
Published by Simon & Schuster Ltd 2012-04-26 (2012)
ISBN 10: 1849833222 ISBN 13: 9781849833226
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Ebooksweb COM LLC
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster Ltd 2012-04-26, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 1849833222. Bookseller Inventory # Z1849833222ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 12.12
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Abend, Lisa
Published by Simon & Schuster UK (2012)
ISBN 10: 1849833222 ISBN 13: 9781849833226
New Paperback Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
cbs distribution ltd
(Brecon, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster UK, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # ABC73859ULN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 9.41
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 6.66
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Abend, Lisa
Published by Simon & Schuster UK (2012)
ISBN 10: 1849833222 ISBN 13: 9781849833226
New Paperback Quantity Available: 4
Seller:
Learnearly Books
(Doncaster, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster UK, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Rapidly dispatched worldwide from our clean, automated UK warehouse within 1-2 working days. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000112042

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 7.84
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 11.97
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Abend, Lisa
Published by Simon & Schuster UK (2012)
ISBN 10: 1849833222 ISBN 13: 9781849833226
New Paperback Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
smeikalbooks
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster UK, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Brand new book. Fast shipping form our UK warehouse in eco-friendly packaging. Fast, efficient and friendly customer service. Bookseller Inventory # 9781849833226N

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 10.55
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 9.35
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Lisa Abend
Published by Simon & Schuster Ltd
ISBN 10: 1849833222 ISBN 13: 9781849833226
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Revaluation Books
(Exeter, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster Ltd. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # __1849833222

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 33.92
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 7.99
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book