Stefano Baiocco first applied for an elBulli stage in 2001. It wasn’t until 2003 that the restaurant told him they space for him. Even though he was by then working as sous-chef at a place in southern Italy, he dropped what he was doing and moved to Roses. Today, he is executive chef at Villa Feltrinelli, a grand hotel on the shores of Lake Garda, in Italy. He is also author of a cookbook, Mise en Place.
Why did you want to stage at elBulli?
My CV was already pretty complete. I had done stages in a lot of big places, like Enoteca Pinochiorri, Mugaritz, Ryogin in Japan, L’Astrance, Alain Ducasse in Paris, and Pierre Gagnaire,. And after being in France I thought, okay, so now I’m complete. I’ve tried lots of different styles, and with Ducasse’s perfectionism and Gagniare’s extreme creativity, I thought I was complete. But that year, people started to talk about this guy with a very different style, Ferran Adria. Someone I was working with flew to Spain just to eat at his restaurant. So I realized, no, I’m not complete.
How was elBulli different from the other places you had staged?
It’s not a real kitchen. It’s more like a theater. In fact, for an inexperienced cook, it’s probably not the best place to begin. You could work there ten years and not even learn how to cook a simple steak. Read the rest of this entry »