Will Goldfarb makes his Chef's Table debut
'After el-Bulli, the new minimum standard was to be the best in the world,' he says of his early days in Spain
In the spring of 1999, a tall, skinny American arrived to work at elBulli. The restaurant, on the Costa Brava in north eastern Spain, had recently received its third Michelin star, and could be quite choosy about who it chose to employ, favour and promote.
Fortunately, that tall American knew exactly who he needed to impress in order to get along. As Albert Adrià, elBulli’s former pastry chef and brother of head chef Ferran Adrià, recalls in the introduction to our new book, Room for Dessert, that novice chef, Will Goldfarb “came up to me and told me in Catalan, with a strong American accent, “Em dic Will i treballaré amb tu” (“My name is Will and I’ll be working with you”.)
Adrià was impressed that this young foreigner could master this lesser-spoken, European language, and regards that introduction as testament to Goldfarb’s determination.
Now, in a new episode of the Netflix show, Chef’s Table, Goldfarb offers his side of the story. In the show, Goldfarb describes how, a couple of decades ago, he chose to try his hand at baking pastry in Paris after he had completed his undergraduate degree. He took a strong interest in elBulli, faxed his CV to Ferran Adrià but received a rejection letter.
However, he later decided to telephone the restaurant, and was eventually invited to come along and try out. With appropriate attention to detail, Goldfarb duly brushed up on his language skills before taking the trip to Spain.
The effort paid off - not only did he pick up invaluable, practical skills; he also raised his professional standards immeasurably.
“When you work somewhere like that you think you’re special; you’re the centre of the universe,” Goldfarb says. “Your confidence was high. After that for me, the new minimum standard was to be the best in the world.”
To discover just what that means in practical terms, and how, first in New York and later in Bali, he elevated dessert making to a high art, check out Will's new book Room for Dessert in the store.