Albert Adrià. Image via Wikimedia commons

'Ferran made me realise fewer sweet things are better!'

Albert Adrià reveals how his infamous brother’s inventiveness made him push the definitions of dessert

At elBulli, not everything was as it seemed. What appeared to be an olive might instead turn out to be a jelly-like ball of olive juice; an apple might look like a rose; and ‘caviar’ may turn out to be made of melon.

With all this inventiveness, it’s not surprising that simple divisions between courses got somewhat lost. Head chef Ferran Adrià ran the show, while his brother, the highly acclaimed pastry chef, Albert Adrià, tried to find a way to place his dishes into this wonderful gastronomic madness. 

It wasn’t easy, apparently. Ferran never left me any space in the customers’ stomachs!” Albert tells, in an interview time to coincide with the opening of Cake and Bubbles, his new London dessert bar. 

However, brotherly competition led to inventiveness. “But after a while I figured out that fewer sweet things were probably better, and that’s how we came up with the prepostre (‘pre-dessert’) — desserts,” he explains, “that were made without the addition of any sugar. And then we came to the petits fours, and came up with the idea of ‘morphings’ — little bites you could have as easily at the beginning of the meal as at the end.” 


Cake & Bubbles' cheese cake. Image courtesy of Cafe Royal's Instagram
Cake & Bubbles' cheese cake. Image courtesy of Cafe Royal's Instagram

Things are a bit clearer at Cake & Bubbles. At this new offering, inside London's Café Royal hotel, the dishes are sweet, and largely classed as cakes. However, Albert has packed in a few surprises. His signature cheesecake looks less like something you’d find on a diner’s dessert menu, and more like something you’d pick out of a shepherd's backpack. The taste, is, of course, delightfully sweet, even if the appearance is playfully misleading.  

"There are things you can do — without adding fat, or sugar, or colouring; by playing with temperatures and textures — that create a special kind of emotion in people,“ says Albert, “that’s what I’m searching for at Cakes & Bubbles.” 


elBulli 2005-2011
elBulli 2005-2011

Looks like he may have found it. To discover more about the restarauant that made the Adriàs, take a look at our elBulli books here.