This Sunday: A Moroccan-style Dinner at The Farmer's Apprentice

Chef/Owner David Gunawan in his restaurant, The Farmer's Apprentice. This photo originally appeared in The Georgia Straight, October 1, 2013.

Chef/Owner David Gunawan in his restaurant, The Farmer's Apprentice. This photo originally appeared in The Georgia Straight, October 1, 2013.

This Sunday, our neighbourhood restaurant, The Farmer's Apprentice, will be hosting a dinner inspired by the Moro Cookbooks. Next Sunday, September 14, Chef David Gunawan will feature the book, Istanbul. We love these books and this local restaurant and think you would love to enjoy this dinner too. For reservations, call the restaurant at 604-620-2070. For the books, call us (604-688-6755).

"Gods of the Grill"

Andrew Richardson and Francis Mallmann Host Series of Events

CinCin Ristorante Executive Chef Andrew Richardson first met Francis Mallmann – South America’s most famous chef – in New York a few years ago. They had an instant,fiery connection.

The chefs have just announced their special collaborative menus for two multi-course dinners to be held at CinCin on September 10th and 11th. And before each dinner, the chefs will give a street side demonstration of their open fire craft. Click here to view the menus.

Prices for the five-course Wine Dinner and four-course Tasting Menu are CAD $165.00 and CAD $99.00 respectively. For reservations or more information, please call CinCin Ristorante at 604 688 7338 or email

If you are unable to make it to the events and would like to pre-order a book and personalised bookplate, please call us at 604-688-6755.

Married to Our Books

We are still in the midst of wedding season, and as we always say: "Cookbooks make the perfect gift". In case you need some inspiration, here is a curated selection of great gift books, in keeping with the popular wedding rhyme that often influences the bride's attire: "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue." Each book is linked to a listing on our website where you may purchase the book online to be collected in store, or shipped.

Something Old: Chez Panisse Vegetables

This lovely book is in keeping with the Chez Panisse philosophy of serving the freshest foods prepared simply and stylishly. Arranged alphabetically by vegetable, and filled with colourful linocut images, this book makes it easy to find a tempting recipe for market produce.

If this book isn't old enough for you (it was published in 1996) we also have a selection of beautifully illustrated and hand-lettered Chez Panisse recipes suitable for framing available in our shop. These recipes were originally printed in 1970 and would be a beautiful piece of art for the kitchen. Please call, email or visit our shop for more information on these.

Something New: A Change of Appetite

Diana Henry is one of our favourite food writers. This book is brand new, and features the kind of things Diana likes best, food inspired by various cultures around the world, including the Middle East, Far East, and Scandanavia. The best part? She focuses this book on health conscious cooking: less meat, and more vegetables, grains and fish dishes.

Something Borrowed: The SOBO Cookbook

Many books "borrow" influence from others, whether they be other cultures or other cooks/authors. The SOBO Cookbook is one of these, and a special one indeed from the beloved SOBO restaurant in Tofino, British Columbia.

Chef Lisa Ahier draws on her Texan background to create uniquely delicious dishes from local ingredients (ie: her Smoked Salmon Chowder made from local fish paired with chipotle chillies in adobo sauce.) This book also features beautiful photography of Tofino.

Something Blue: Recipes for a Good Time

I'm sure you can tell why this book fits the "Something Blue" title.

This book is from the Sydney restaurant, Porteno and draws inspiration from the kitchens of Argentina with super-slow-cooked meats and seafood, alongside fresh and inventive vegetable dishes and luscious cocktails. Give the gift of transportation to another place via a book with this beautifully written and photographed cookbook. Perfect for adventurous, experienced cooks.


“There is no sight more appealing than the sight of one making dinner for those they love.”
— Thomas Wolfe

Reading & Cooking Through the Dog Days of Summer

** Reading & Cooking Through the Dog Days of Summer

Dear friends,

You may be reading this while eating a picnic on the beach, or you might be at the cottage, taking one last holiday before summer is over. Or perhaps you are in your office, thinking about what to cook for dinner.

Wherever you are, and whatever you are up to, we hope you are enjoying the last few days of summer. And, if you find yourself already feeling nostalgic for lovely summer days, we are pleased to present many exciting events to look forward to this Autumn.

Hope to see you soon!

Summer Greetings with Ideas for Autumn Meetings from Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks

A few exciting Autumn dates for your calendars from

Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks.


 The means of consoling oneself: reading cookbooks.

~ Baudelaire

Is the bookshop dodo-like in the modern eye? It is indeed dear to ours, and far from dead. The shelves of our bookshop teem with life of all sorts: cookery, husbandry, horticulture, canning and planning. Our kitchen warms the soul, demonstrating and presenting ideas to enjoy a nourishing life. The kettle sings each afternoon, wooing the teapot to prepare a soothing cuppa. The hob and library present a hub of crossing cultures for us all to appreciate through reading and eating well.

~ Inspired by the Writings of E.B. White.




The Fishy Hour (s) - September 26, 4-7 p.m.

Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks

Join us this afternoon to celebrate the publication of a new & revised edition of Barbara-jo's Tin Fish Gourmet. First published in 1998, the book was an instant hit with its elegant, quick and inventive recipes using tinned fish. Now, 16 years later, it has been completely redesigned, with colour photographs and new chapters and recipes. There will be a CBC radio interview at 4 p.m., followed by fishy tunes played on our shop piano and a book signing. Refreshments will be served.

Cost: FREE, please RSVP by calling 604-688-6755

Yotam Ottolenghi Visits Vancouver October 21, 7:30-9 p.m.

 Wosk Auditorium, Jewish Community Centre

We are thrilled to announce that those who have cooked alongside Yotam Ottolenghi in their own kitchens with his books will be able to learn more about him this Autumn when he visits Vancouver to promote his latest book, Plenty More. This evening is an interview style event, with CKNW's afternoon talk radio host, Simi Sara. The event is hosted in partnership with the JCC Jewish Book Festival.

Cost: $60, includes a pre-signed copy of Plenty More. Please call 604-688-6755 to register.



Lesley Stowe's Desserts from My Kitchen October 30, 7 - 9 p.m.

Equinox Gallery

Please save the date to celebrate with us the launch of Lesley Stowe's new book, Desserts from My Kitchen. The net proceeds for this evening will be donated to Project CHEF, a hands-on, curriculum-based school program that teaches children and families about healthy cooking and eating. This delectably social evening will include live music and an auction of the "Cake Walk" desserts - the perfect opportunity to pick up a sumptuous creation for your weekend dinner party. Cost: $75, includes a personalised copy of Desserts from My Kitchen and refreshments.) 

Cost: $75, includes a personalised copy of Desserts from My Kitchen.

Please call 604-688-6755 to register.



Our note about Canada's New Anti-Spam Legislation

Dear Friends with Cooking Benefits,

In compliance with the new Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) we are sending you this email to confirm that you would like to receive our electronic communications.

Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks sends out a monthly update to share our upcoming cookbook events. For 17 years, we've been a proud supporter of our culinary community and are grateful to the people who support us. (That's you!) If you would like to unsubscribe from our newsletter, please click on the link at the bottom of our emails. As always, your contact information is completely confidential.

Thank you for being part of our community.


Barbara-jo McIntosh et al.

Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks


Autumn 2014 at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks

** A few dates for your Autumn 2014 Calendars

Even though Summer is just beginning, we are already looking ahead to Autumn- a fruitful season for cookbooks and traveling authors.

You will find we have already started posting events on our website and we have many more in the works. These will be posted as they are finalised, so please do check back often.

We hope to see you in our shop soon!

We are thrilled to announce the publication of a new and revised edition of Barbara-jo's Tin Fish Gourmet by Arsenal Pulp Press.

First published in 1998 by Raincoast Books, this new edition is completely redesigned with colour photographs, new chapters and recipes.

We will be celebrating this book in a variety of ways throughout the Autumn and hope to see you at one of our Tin Fish events!

Staff Picks: My Paris Kitchen

Earlier this month we hosted two events with the wildly popular blogger and author David Lebovitz. He was in the city to celebrate his new book, My Paris Kitchen, a book which has quickly become one of our favourites to read and cook from. 

Joan, one of the staff members here, tells us about the book:

What do you think of the book so far?

J: It's a good read with lots of good stories and anecdotes, and everything turned out exactly the way it was explained and tasted good - all signs of a good cookbook! And the photos of Paris are wonderful. It would make an excellent gift. 

Which recipes have you made?

J: I made the Parisian Gnocchi, Steak with Mustard Butter, Individual Chocolate Cakes with Salted Caramel Sauce and Chicken with Mustard. I especially enjoyed the gnocchi and Chicken with Mustard, which can be made ahead- a huge bonus for busy soccer nights when dinner needs to be fast. The gnocchi was very rich, but light at the same time- they would be excellent for a dinner party as they puffed up impressively. 

What makes this book special?

J: Well I think this book is great because it's not intimidating; it would be perfect for someone just starting in French cooking. But the real star of this book is the desserts, they're really very special.

What's Cooking at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks this Summer


 A Summer of Feasting and Reading

Summer is for traveling (to both near and far places), eating together, relaxing, and celebrating long weekends with friends and families. With that in mind, we have planned a few events in June and July for your enjoyment of this glorious season.

In June we will begin with an evening featuring Provence Food and Wine, followed by a Sunday Supper honouring Clarissa Dickson Wright, and a book and anniversary celebration for Don Genova (who was married in our Yaletown shop). We will end the month with a pre-Canada Day celebration featuring a new book all about Canada's drink: Caesars. Then in July we will host a reading & signing by former Vancouverite, Barbara Miachika and a very relevant evening about Seaweed led by Prannie Rhatigan of Ireland.

Stay tuned for our Autumn Event Schedule; we will be posting these events online at the end of June and are looking forward to many exciting authors visiting the shop!


Registration is now open for our Book Club,

Eating Between the Leaves


This club meets four times a season to share lively conversation around a different book while enjoying a meal inspired by its pages. More information, including dates and the titles of the books we will be reading, may be found here.


What's Cooking at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks this Spring


Dear You,

We've been busy bees the last few weeks, preparing an array of events for your enjoyment. In the next couple of months we are featuring some lovely new Spring books and their authors as well as a few of our favourite Classics.

Click here  for a full listing of our events, or click each link below for individual listings.

Sincerely, Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks


For You Mom, A Tea Event Sunday, May 4, 2 p.m.

This afternoon we will be serving tea and goodies while our friends from Tealeaves  talk about tea: the ritual, steeping tips and tasting notes. Each person will take home Barbara-Jo Blend tea and Maw Broon's Afternoon Tea Book. 


 The Sobo Cookbook Launch Thursday, May 15, 6 p.m.

Sobo Chef/Owner Lisa Ahier is in the shop tonight to celebrate her restaurant's new book. Lisa will read from the book, demonstrate a recipe, and sign everyone's books. 


Delicious! CBC North by Northwest Taping Friday, May 23, 4 p.m.

Ruth Reichl, formerly the restaurant critic for the New York Times and Editor in Chief of Gourmet Magazine will be in the shop today to tape an interview with Sheryl McKay for CBC's North by Northwest Cooking Club.


 Celebrate the Classics Series: Clarissa's Comfort Food Sunday, June 8, 5 p.m.

Clarissa Dickson Wright is the focus of our attention for this Sunday Supper. We will celebrate the much loved English TV personality, author and once-upon-a-time Edinburgh cookbook shop owner with a meal from her book, Clarissa's Comfort Food.


 Olive Odyssey Book Launch Saturday, May 10, 2 p.m.

Join us for the book launch of Olive Odyssey, including a reading by author Julie Angus, an olive oil tasting and booksigning.


The Sobo Cookbook Dinner Friday, May 16, 6:30 p.m.

Sobo Chef/Owner Lisa Ahier will be in the shop again to celebrate the new book from her Tofino restaurant with a tasty dinner.


A Slice of Molly, Delancey and pizza Monday, May 26, 6 p.m.

Molly Wizenberg joins us in the shop tonight to celebrate the publication of her second book, Delancey with a reading, a Q&A, a slice of pizza and a book signing.


A Book Launch and Anniversary Wednesday, June 11, 6:30 p.m.

Tonight we gather in the shop to celebrate two things: Don Genova's new book, and his wedding anniversary. Don and his wife were married in our Yaletown shop!


Feasting Days - A Royal Grilling Feast Wednesday, May 14, 6:30 p.m.

Why not celebrate Queen Victoria's Birthday with a decadent Royal Grilling Feast? Chef Glenys Morgan will teach the tricks to grilling foods with intense flavours, cooked to juicy perfection over the fire.


Delicious! Book Launch at The Vancouver Club Thursday, May 22, 6 p.m.

Ruth Reichl will launch her new book at The Vancouver Club with a reception, reading and Q & A.


Celebrate the Classics Series-Home Cooking Sunday, June 1, 5 p.m.

Tonight's Sunday Supper features two books by one of our favourite writers: Laurie Colwin. Chef Glenys Morgan will cook from Home Cooking and More Home Cooking.


The Accidental Baker: Reading and Booksigning Wednesday, July 9, 6 p.m.

Author Barbara Miachika will be in the shop tonight to read from her book, The Accidental Baker: A Cake for Every Crisis, answer questions and demonstrate a recipe


April Events at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks


 April Events at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks

(And one last hurrah for March)


 Spice Market Tasting Menu

 Monday, March 31, 6:30 p.m.

Spice Market's executive chef, Anthony Ricco is travelling from New York to kick off a new Spice Market menu at MARKET by Jean-Georges here in Vancouver. This evening in our shop, he will join forces with Montgomery Lau, Chef de Cuisine at MARKET by Jean-Georges.

For more information, click here.


 A Chocolate Tasting Party

 Tuesday, April 1, 6:30 p.m.

Tonight we welcome local writer Eagranie Yuh (of The Well-Tempered Chocolatier) into the shop to celebrate her first book: The Chocolate Tasting Kit. Eagranie will teach us all about chocolate and guide us in a tasting.

For more information, click here


 Bill Jones CBC Radio Taping

 Thursday, April 17, 4 p.m.

Bill Jones of Deerholme Farm is in shop today to tape an interview about his new book, The Deerholme Foraging Book, with Sheryl MacKay from CBC's North by Northwest Cooking Club. Bill is an expert on foraging in the Pacific Northwest.

For more information, click here.


 A Chocolate Lunch

 Saturday, April 5, 1 p.m.

Join us for a sumptuous chocolate lunch, cooked from The Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook by local chocolatier and owner of Chocolate Arts, Greg Hook will join us today to teach us all about chocolate.

For more information, click here


 Lunch at the Shop

 Sunday, April 27, 11:30 a.m.

Today Peter Miller of Peter Miller Books in Seattle is joining us for lunch to celebrate his new book: Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal.

For more information, click here


 "Thai" One on with Whisky

Wednesday, April 9, 6:30 p.m.

We are thrilled to present an evening to take us beyond "standard" food and drink pairings.

Chef Angus An of Maenam Restaurant will cook a delicious Thai dinner paired with Scottish whisky. Brand educator, J. Wheelock from Authentic Wine & Spirits Merchants in Calgary will guide us.

For more information, click here


 Go Barley Around the Clock

Wednesday, April 30, 6:30 p.m.

Authors Linda Whitworth and Pat Inglis will join us for dinner this evening to teach from their new book, Go Barley: Modern Recipes for an Ancient Grain, about the health benefits of barley and how we can incorporate it into our diets around the clock.

For more information, click here.


From Fred UnLEEshed: March 14, 2014

Barbara Jo welcomed a capacity crowd who shelled out $700 to hear from and meet culinary icon Ferran Adrià, of elBulli, widely regarded as the world’s best restaurant until its closure in 2011.

Barbara Jo welcomed a capacity crowd who shelled out $700 to hear from and meet culinary icon Ferran Adrià, of elBulli, widely regarded as the world’s best restaurant until its closure in 2011.

This was originally posted here in the Vancouver Courier.

Revisiting some of the media from our Ferran Adria events

Vancouver chefs plan for Ferran Adria's visit

Martha Perkins 
February 18, 2014 09:00 PM

From left: Frank Pabst, Scott Jaegar, Barbara-Jo McIntosh, Vikram Vij, Sean Cousins, Angus An and Thomas Haas are working together to create a memorable Vancouver welcome for Ferran Adria. Absent from photo is Hidekazu Tojo. — Image credit: Martha Perkins

From left: Frank Pabst, Scott Jaegar, Barbara-Jo McIntosh, Vikram Vij, Sean Cousins, Angus An and Thomas Haas are working together to create a memorable Vancouver welcome for Ferran Adria. Absent from photo is Hidekazu Tojo. — Image credit: Martha Perkins


Ferran Adria has been called a genius, the worlds most creative chef, a man who changed gastronomic history.

So what do you feed him when he comes to Vancouver?

Thats the daunting yet exciting task of Barbara-Jo McIntosh, who is organizing Adrias one-night stay in Vancouver on March 8. Shes enlisted the help of seven of Vancouvers most accomplished chefs and the Vancouver Club to pull it off.

On February 17, she gathered Frank Pabst (Blue Water Café), Thomas Haas (Thomas Haas Chocolates), Vikram Vij (Vijs), Hidekazu Tojo (Tojos), Scott Jaegar (The Pear Tree), Angus An (Maenam) and Sean Cousins (Vancouver Club) to plan the menu.

Since Adria, who closed his three-star Michelin restaurant, elBulli, in 2011 so he could concentrate on training other chefs, has said he prefers that chefs not use his recipes, the chefs have been given free rein.

Show off Vancouver to him what we do and do well, McIntosh said.

Surprisingly, there was relatively little talk about the food at the meeting. The chefs divvied what proteins theyd use but did not get into the specifics; that magic will happen back in their own kitchens.

I expect Ferran to blow everyone away, says McIntosh, the owner of Books to Cooks on 2nd Avenue, says of the pioneering master of molecular gastronomy. Hes driven by a desire to show the world what, in his mad scientist mind, he has created.

The Vancouver Club event is in three parts: a Cava reception, Adrias presentation and a Lavish after-party. Tickets to the after-party are sold out (tickets were $1,000) but there are still some left for the Cava reception and Adrias presentation. They are $700 each (or $800 for a pair) and include a seven-volume set of Adrias books, including elBulli 2005-2011: A Journey Inside the Creative Process of the Worlds Greatest Chef.You can also order the book set for $625. Details at

Copyright 2014

The original article was posted here on February 18, 2014.-

Malcolm Parry's Coverage of our Ferran Adria events in The Vancouver Sun's Town Talk, March 14, 2014

TWAIN IN SPAIN: Books To Cooks owner Barbara-Jo McIntosh likely felt like doing handsprings down a Vancouver Club staircase clogged with folk waiting for Spanish superchef Ferran Adria to sign his seven-volume elBulli: 2005-2011. The $700 that each had paid included an interpreter relaying Adria’s account of the transformative cooking style he’d developed at his restaurant on the Mediterranean Costa Brava. In a Spanish-speaking tete-a-tete later, Joytv interviewer Carmen Ruiz y Laza learned that, si, Adria’s culinary revolution did include pulpo negro, the dish of octopus in its own ink revered in her native Cantabria on the Atlantic shoreline.

The original posting can be found on The Vancouver Sun's website, here.

March 5 Ferran Adria Article in Vancouver Sun

ElBulli’s Ferran Adria takes Vancouver


One of the two events is sold out at $1,000 a ticket, so revered is the Spanish culinary supernova.



MARCH 5, 2014


“In my early days," says Ferran Adria, "I copied the great French chefs, like most chefs do. Copying is not bad. Copying and not recognizing that you are copying is bad. For me, when I go to a restaurant and am served a dish influenced by something we created at elBulli, if it’s well done, it makes me extremely happy.


Cezanne once said to the critics who dissed his radical new way of painting, “With an apple, I will astonish Paris!” Eventually, the critics and the world came to heel and revere his works.

Ferran Adria, the rocking-est star of world chefs, doesn’t astonish with just an apple, he astonishes with nearly every ingredient he touches and that is why his restaurant elBulli, near Barcelona, became an international sensation.

Call him an idiot-savant of cooking who cannot abide the rules of gastronomy; he is lawless when it comes to culinary traditions and has revolutionized cooking like Cezanne and Picasso did with painting. Not many dispute that Adria is a culinary revolutionary although he’s had detractors claiming his food is unhealthy, pretentious, too challenging to eat (yes, the dishes sometimes come with instructions on how to eat — one bite, two bites, first this, then that….) or encourages Ferran Frankensteins, unskilled in conducting a symphony of an elBulli meal.

But many of the restaurants at the top of the game internationally and at the forefront of coveted “Top 50” awards each year are run by elBulli alumni — restaurants such as Noma (Denmark), Mugaritz (Spain), Alinea (U.S.) and Fat Duck (England).

The normally too-cool-to-gush Anthony Bourdain, gushes: “When I ate the food, I felt fear, delight, confusion, real joy. The world changed. For a chef, it was like Eric Clapton coming out of hearing Jimi Hendrix for the first time.”

And for Wolfgang Puck, elBulli food conjured Rip Van Winkle: “I think it was as if you hadn’t seen New York City for 200 years and then you saw it today. It was different from anything I could imagine.”

When the world finally recognized the amazing feats of cookery going on at elBulli, Adria became a culinary supernova. Diners, journalists, cooks and chefs begged to work for free and beat a path to his door (not an easy traverse along a narrow, dangerous road to the Costa Brava coast).

By the time he decided to close elBulli in 2011 (to gasps and grief), well, the numbers said it all: Two million people sought reservations for 8,000 seats during the six months each year the restaurant was open. (During the other six months, staff were in a mad-scientist huddle in a Barcelona atelier, developing new ideas for dishes.) Guests travelled an average of seven to 20,000 kilometres to have dinner at elBulli. The tasting menu, with more than 30 items, was different every day and cost about $380 a person. Adria spent a quarter of his time doing interviews — 1,000-plus in a year along with countless appearances at world culinary events.

Adria has written other volumes of books documenting his recipes with photographs and their stories. The latest is elBulli, 2005 to 2011, a seven-volume magnum opus weighing 40 pounds, covering 2,720 pages which was released March 3. The cost: $625.

And that is the reason for his visit to Vancouver Saturday on the first stop of his North American book tour. Organizer Barbara-jo McIntosh, of Books To Cooks, says in the 17 years she has been bringing in chefs, including many three-Michelin-star gods of the kitchen, he is the most revered.

“There are a lot of accomplished people I admire but nobody has taken their craft to the level of science and art that he has. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to meet someone like this. There aren’t a lot who would not find it exciting.”

Adria, 52, will be in Vancouver for two events at The Vancouver Club, a lecture and cava reception at 2 p.m. ($700, including the new seven-volume publication; for tickets, go to and the Afterparty with Ferran Adria at 4 p.m., with seven local chefs cooking for the event ($1,000). The latter was sold out at press time. One chef, McIntosh says, felt it was worth $1,000 to have his photo taken with Adria.

In an email interview with The Vancouver Sun, Adria spoke openly about himself and his food. Since elBulli closed, he’s been working on the elBulli Foundation, “conceptualizing and shaping” projects which will be like a creative think-tank and educational arena for avant garde cuisine for chefs and other culinary professionals.

“What I am most proud of, is that today, I see that the values and spirit of what grew in the kitchen at elBulli are present in so many kitchens and places around the world today.” Some of the techniques that have been adopted in other modern kitchens are spherification (you might have seen this as “pearls” or “caviar” on menus), foams, airs, deconstructions, ice powders, liquid nitrogen to freeze items on a plate, and commercial food additives like xantham gum, agar and calcium alginate to manipulate food.

The spherification process came out of a visit to a canning factory. He noticed the effect of calcium alginate on a tomato sauce, creating a glossy little pearl which formed into a solid gel. He refined and tweaked the “pearl” until it became more like a tiny egg yolk with a thin membrane holding a gush of flavourful liquid inside.

The dishes that flowed from the elBulli kitchen included: popcorn cloud, melon caviar, a dry martini to spray into the mouth from a Comme des Garcons-like perfume bottle, a “golden egg” in which a raw quail’s egg is wrapped in a thin coating of crisp caramel (blowtorched onto the yolk).

The dish he was most proud of was the “stew in textures (menestra en textures).” The ingredients, separated out, were a mix of textures and temperatures.

“Deconstruction became a style that has subsequently identified us (although we never used it to excess) and has had a major impact in the culinary world, a very creative method used by other professionals.” Check. It’s used a lot and, might I add, a lot don’t have the skill to create a seamless harmony between elements.

“elBulli,” he says, “was not a restaurant but a place where the goal was to excite diners using culinary creativity. The main rule for any dish was to be creative.”

He’s inspired by travel and he considers Japan and Peru as the most fertile cooking cultures for his imagination.

“In both countries, the kitchen is revered. It’s a cultural fact that there is a passionate love (for food and cooking) in these countries,” he says.

Asked why he’s so willing to share his discoveries, inventions and methods (the recent volumes as well as a previous publications covering earlier years record his recipes, ideas, organizational systems and philosophy), he says it’s his duty.

“Like all disciplines where information is shared and work contributes to their advancement, cuisine should be no different,” he emailed. “The kitchen is our life, and we are available to share. We want to share our work so that future generations can cook and create a more efficient, easy and unquestionable quality.

“In my early days, I copied the great French chefs, like most chefs do. Copying is not bad. Copying and not recognizing that you are copying is bad. For me, when I go to a restaurant and am served a dish influenced by something we created at elBulli, if it’s well done, it makes me extremely happy.”

His life goal, he says, is to be happy.

“I use the kitchen as a pathway to achieve this happiness. My motivation is to keep learning and try to be better both professionally every day.” He appears immune to materialism and stays in modest hotels and has no desire for fancy cars.

elBulli, for all its fame and glory (and free labour from cooks and chefs lucky enough to get a stage, or practicum, in the kitchen) did not make money.

“elBulli as a restaurant was the R & D of elBulli as a company and like all R & D, the income was in the negative,” Adria says. But it was a springboard for other business ventures and products. “We were developing creativity and we existed as a restaurant to enable that. But now the other businesses have given us sufficient funds to move on to the enterprise level,” he says. “I never interpreted creativity as a way of doing business but as my lifestyle and my passion.” (That revenue stream includes books, supermarket products, kitchenware, endorsements and food outlets.)

As a youngster, he says, he wanted to be a soccer star.

“My idol was Johann Cruyff (a Dutch soccer player) and I wanted to be like him. But when I realized that I would never be, I decided to do something else. I met the kitchen by chance and quickly became completely enamoured by it.”

Asked about his drive and the motivation behind his success, he says: “I think my virtue was I never thought ‘This is impossible.’ I have always tried to achieve my dreams no matter how difficult it seemed. Sometimes I succeeded, sometimes not but the desire to excel, honesty and self-criticism are vital if you want to get important things in life. I never interpreted creativity as a way of doing business but as my lifestyle and my passion. I enjoy creating.”

Putting his creations into perspective, he says: “The avant-garde has always existed throughout the history of mankind. The good things from the avant-garde last and eventually, after many years, become tradition and people forget they were ever part of the avant-garde. The kitchen is a living discipline, always evolving, and there will always be cutting edge things that over the years, ends up being part of tradition.”

As for molecular gastronomy, the label persistently slapped on his style of cooking, he seems weary.

“What we do is talk to science to learn from it and find solutions to problems and knowing the why behind things. But those who cook are cooks, not scientists,” he says. But he agrees that his food requires some mental effort to appreciate.

“Yes, our kitchen is a kitchen that makes food designed to be tasted with the five senses and it requires concentration to appreciate all that we want to express.”

And speaking of his five senses, I ask whether he does indeed have an extra large tongue and whether that affects his speech and provides him with super taste buds, as has been reported.

“This is the first time I’ve heard that,” he responds good-naturedly. “Honestly, I think I have a small tongue. But it is true that I talk a lot because many times I need to express a lot in a short time.”

At home, he says, he eats simply.

“Lots of fruit, short cooking times and so on. But when I go to a fine dining restaurant, I’m excited and I do expect to find proposals to wake my senses.” The most memorable meal ever, in a restaurant, he says, was in a village in China, dining with his wife.

“We entered a very humble restaurant with no pretensions and there I got one of the best vegetable dishes I have ever had in my life. There I realized that sensitivity can be found in the most unexpected places.”

He has visited Canada before and thinks it a fantastic country with wonderful cuisine.

“It has a great culture, great products and an incredible professional talent. The present and the future of Canadian cuisine is more than assured.”

When he visits Vancouver on Saturday, he will, as always, keep an open mind.

“I wait to be surprised and I normally am,” he says. He will be talking about his new volume of books and about the progress of the elBulli Foundation, which will be his next great adventure.

“It is a complex project that must be explained well so that people can get a real idea of its importance.

“Life,” he says, “has given me much more than I could dream of. I do no ask anything more, just now, than to try to give back to society.”


*This article was published in the March 5, 2014 issue of the Vancouver Sun and can be found online here.            

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

March 11, Vancouver Sun Article About Ferran Adria

Visionary Ferran Adria sets the table for the next generation

The ‘philosopher-Einstein of the culinary world,’ brings cooking out of the kitchen and into the research lab.


Some Vancouver chefs and their assistants with Ferran Adria, middle, on his Vancouver visit. Front row, from left, Thomas Haas, Masa Baba, Tojo Hidekazu, Adria, Ricardo Valverde, Scott Jaeger, Angus An; back row, from left, Lovett Sheng, Elmo Pinpin, Vikram Vij, Frank Pabst and Sean Cousin. Photo by Bethany Leng

Some Vancouver chefs and their assistants with Ferran Adria, middle, on his Vancouver visit. Front row, from left, Thomas Haas, Masa Baba, Tojo Hidekazu, Adria, Ricardo Valverde, Scott Jaeger, Angus An; back row, from left, Lovett Sheng, Elmo Pinpin, Vikram Vij, Frank Pabst and Sean Cousin. Photo by Bethany Leng



When the culinary colossus, Ferran Adria closed his groundbreaking restaurant, elBulli, near Barcelona, in 2011, he left admirers wondering ‘Why? What now?’

Adria was in Vancouver Saturday promoting his seven-volume elBulli 2005 to 2011, a massive $625 collection, chronicling elBulli food, with recipes from those years. He explained the why and the what, which hadn’t been clearly answered previously.

The “why” was easy enough to answer. He was pretty much burning out. He and his staff had invented (more appropriate than “created”) 1,846 new dishes.

“For 25 years, we tried to be the vanguard of cuisine. We succeeded for a long time. We could have held on for five more years but eventually, all vanguards must come to an end,” he said, speaking through a translator at the Vancouver Club. “For 25 years, I have been working, working, working, creating, creating, creating, but have had little time to reflect. We live in a society where we work very hard and there is too much information.

“So what was the path forward? We wanted a transformation that would last for a long time. We wanted to leave a legacy for the next generation,” he said. And that is the elBullifoundation, a training and research facility, and exhibition centred on the site of the old restaurant, extending into some park land. (It was granted permission because it would be an educational facility.) He collaborated with smart minds from universities around the world (Harvard, Berkeley, Columbia, MIT) for an interdisciplinary approach and announced that the foundation will have three components: elBulli 1846, elBulli DNA and Bullipedia.

“Some 31 teams worked around the idea of creativity,” he said.

ElBulli 1846 (the number of dishes created at the restaurant and the birth year of Escoffier, another culinary visionary) is an exhibition on the history of cooking; elBulli DNA is an inter-disciplinary cooking lab, hosting 40 people for eight months each year.

“They will be the best in the world,” he said, “chefs, architects, designers, working and studying the creative process, in particular, the cooking process. Cooking will be the medium.” Ideas will be shared on the Internet.

Bullipedia will become the ultimate culinary information tool.

“In May, there will be 80 people working on it,” he said.

They will decode, organize, classify and codify the world of food, creating a map of culinary genomes and taxonomies. It will address concepts taken for granted, like, what is cooking? What is a chef? What is technique? What is the difference between technology and technique? Did cooking start with fire? What about raw food or fermented? he asked.

“Does technique require tools? What about your hands? Is beer a beverage? What if it is used in a stew or ice cream? I spent 33 years as a chef and never asked myself these questions. For me, cooking was cooking. That was it and now everything I believe I have put into question.”

It would be easy to think black truffle ice cream or saffron ice cream were created by a modern chef but, he said, not true.

“They made saffron ice cream in 1768. There’s a cookbook on ice cream in which they were making both,” he said, underlining the importance of culinary history. “You need a dialogue between different voices.”

And interdisciplinary input is crucial for questions like: “Why do we talk about fish in the masculine or feminine in Spanish? Why not in English? They are totally different products. When a female is producing eggs, the quality lowers and the texture changes and we have to understand that.”

And: “It’s important that a tomato be prepared properly but it’s more important to know that it comes from a vine and that we ask why we don’t eat the leaves, roots, stem or flowers and why we do with other plants.

“Maybe you are saying ‘Leave me alone’ and that’s perfectly valid,” he said. The total reboot of how we think about food is really for the next generation.

“When I go to culinary schools, it’s super-easy for (students) to understand. For them, this is easy because they don’t have preconceptions. The whole elBullifoundation is based on this. It’s a level of information and knowledge that will challenge the new generation.”

But, he advises, get the priorities straight.

“The new generation and all generations have to understand, you should not look for success. You have to look for happiness in what you do.”

Organizer Barbara-jo McIntosh, of Books to Cooks, said the star-studded list of Vancouver chefs who heard the lecture were enthralled.

“So many chefs came to me saying how much they learned, how much they wanted to rethink things and how they needed to digest what he’d said. And, of course, they thought he was so generous.

“For me, the lecture was amazing and I love his desire to have us all truly understand food, to learn, to teach and evolve. What a smart philosopher-Einstein for the culinary world.”


*This article was originally published in the March 11, 2014 issue of the Vancouver Sun. The original link to the online version of the article may be found here.

There is life after Ferran: Upcoming events at Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks


Our event with Ferran Adrià left our brains invigorated with the desire to learn, teach and evolve. Here in the shop, we value our capacity to strive towards understanding and design our events to entertain, educate and leave you with both a tasty memory and a desire to learn more.

In the next few weeks we hope to entice you to explore some of our exciting new events: share a feasting meal based on the Irish Pantry, discover the mysteries of Grappa, celebrate chocolate with one of our decadent events in early April or adventure into a cross-cultural dinner pairing Thai food and Scottish whisky. 


Share a St. Patrick's Day dinner with us on Monday, March 17 at 6:30 p.m. from the Irish Pantry book prepared by Chef Adrienne O'Callaghan.

We will be celebrating the Emerald Isle and learning about Irish hospitality while we sup. More information may be found here.


Discover the mysteries of Grappa with GM/Wine Director Robert Stelmachuk and Executive Chef Faizal Kassam of Cibo Trattoria and Uva Wine Bar on Thursday, March 20 at 6:30 p.m.

A selection of Grappas (an Italian spirit made from distilling the pomace- skin, pulp, seeds and stems- from winemaking) will be paired with scrumptious Italian bites. More information may be found here.


We welcome local writer Eagranie Yuh into the shop to celebrate her first book: The Chocolate Tasting Kit on Tuesday, April 1 at 6:30 p.m.

Eagranie will teach about the subtle nuance of chocolate, how to select the best varieties, and of course, we will be tasting plenty. More information may be found here.


Celebrate chocolate again on Saturday, April 5 at 1 p.m. with a sumptuous chocolate lunch, cooked from The Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook.

We are thrilled that local chocolatier and owner of Chocolate Arts, Greg Hook will join us today to teach us all about chocolate. More information may be found here


Adventure into a cross-cultural dinner pairing Thai food and Scottish whisky on Wednesday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m.

Chef Angus An of Maenam Restaurant will cook a delicious Thai dinner that will be paired with whisky instead of wine. Brand educator, J. Wheelock from Authentic Wine & Spirits Merchants in Calgary will join us as we explore the flavours of the whisky themselves as well as the way they interact with the flavours in Thai food. More information may be found here.




Ferran Adria's search for knowledge

Celebrated chef Ferran Adria of elBulli Foundation watches as Jack Chen and David Gunawan of Farmer's Apprentice and Quang Dang and Alex Hon of West prepare brunch at Books to Cooks in Vancouver on March 9. — Image Credit: Martha Perkins

Celebrated chef Ferran Adria of elBulli Foundation watches as Jack Chen and David Gunawan of Farmer's Apprentice and Quang Dang and Alex Hon of West prepare brunch at Books to Cooks in Vancouver on March 9.

— Image Credit: Martha Perkins


Leave it to Ferran Adria to ask a very simple question that is very difficult to answer: “The taste of Vancouver — what is it?”

In France, you’d say “butter.” In Italy and Spain you might say “olive oil.” What is the one taste that defines Vancouver cuisine? (And, no, “seafood” doesn’t cut it. Is it salmon in a butter sauce, sushi, halibut with creamed spinach, fresh oysters?)

For the past decade and a half, the man whose restaurant, elBulli, was called one of the top 50 in the world, has been challenging himself to drill down through time and place to come to a core understanding of food. In his quest to “decode the genome of gastronomy,” Adria has transformed himself into the Darwin of the kitchen, trying to come up with his culinary version of the Origin of Species.

Adria has mastered cooking techniques in ways few others have but, just as it’s said there are only six plots in all the millions of books that have been written, he knows there’s very little true originality in cuisine. He wants to discover food’s equivalent of the six plots.

“If you want to understand food, you need to study it,” he told a group of chefs and food writers at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks on March 9, the morning after Barbara-Jo McIntosh hosted a special event with Adria at the Vancouver Club.

To study something, you need to categorize it, and that’s where things get tricky. Take honey. Do you categorize it as a sweet? It’s made by bees from the nectar of plants. Does that make it vegetal or animal?

What was food like before humans had the tools to cook it, before there was a pot in which to boil pasta or a knife with which to cut meat? What happened to food when we became able to cook it, not only eat it? Why do we eat a tomato, which is the fruit of a plant, but not its roots, like we do with carrots?

He’s come up with the “Map of Gastronomic Process: Reproduction”, which, in 2016, will become the foundation of an eight-month study at the elBulli Foundation. Students from around the world will experience a monk-like existence as they do for food what generations of scholars have done for literature and art.

“Thousands of people are doing a PhD on Picasso. Who studied Escoffier? Really studied him? Nobody,” Adria said through a Spanish interpreter.

“The classifications of food are a disaster,” he said. “Meat. What is it?”

Many books — as McIntosh’s store celebrates — have been written about the science of cooking but Adria’s goal is to take it to the Big Bang level. The goal isn’t science; it’s understanding. And to understand each other, we need a shared vocabulary.

One word he has come up with is “elaboration.” Honey is an elaboration that animals make for us. Then there are elaborated products; flour, for instance.

“We think that to understand cooking and the taxonomy of products, this is the best way to do it,” he said.

By October, Adria thinks he’ll be ready to present his approach on the internet, with a book to follow. In 2015, he’ll start accepting applications for the foundation, with studies to follow in 2016. Scholarships will be available so money is not a barrier. “We don’t want anyone to be excluded because they can’t afford it.”


*The original link to this article, published in WEVancouver can be found here.