The younger Adrià brother expands his culinary empire with a London pop-up and new Barcelona projects.
Until a couple of years ago Albert Adrià's name was always linked with that of his older brother, Ferran, as the fame of the clifftop Costa Brava restaurant El Bulli spread. While Ferran was the restaurant's enigmatic figurehead, Albert was the behind-the-scenes creative director responsible for research and development.
Ferran closed El Bulli in July 2011, converting the restaurant into the El Bulli Foundation, dedicated to culinary experimentation. And Albert moved out of the lab and into the spotlight, opening a handful of restaurants in Barcelona in quick succession under the collective title El Barri, Catalan for "neighbourhood".
Last year was particularly action-packed for the chef. His year-old smart-casual fine-diner in the hip quarter of Sant Antoni, Hoja Santa, was awarded a Michelin star for its inventive Mexican haute cuisine. Its sibling, Niño Viejo, the taquería next door, has been wildly popular since opening in August 2014. Two blocks away, Albert's rowdy Catalan eatery, Bodega 1900, has proved just as popular. Nearby, the theatrical Tickets, opened by the Adrià brothers five years ago, is known for its avant-garde tapas, while at Pakta, Albert introduced Barcelona diners to Nikkei, Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine. Also in the neighbourhood is El Barri's spacious new HQ - with a state-of-the-art test kitchen for the boss, of course.
Popping up in London this month is 50 Days by Albert Adrià , a pop-up in Hotel Café Royal in Piccadilly. The chef has invited diners to cocktails in the hotel's ornate Oscar Wilde bar, then to linger over his tasting menu.
When Albert returns to Barcelona in April he'll focus on two projects: a new restaurant called Enigma at the El Barri HQ, scheduled to open mid-year; and Heart Ibiza 2016, the second iteration of his "dialogue between gastronomy, music and art" on the Balearic island. The seasonal event was launched last European summer; Albert says he's working on a different, even bigger concept.
Next up? The chef-impresario says he's toying with the idea of a dessert bar, a return to his pastry-making roots.