Laia Guinó was a student at Girona’s School of Hospitality when she started her stage at elBulli. When she finished, she worked first at Restaurante Ginjoler in Girona, and then spent the summer season in 2010 at Mas Pau, under the direction of Xavier Sagristá, who was chef de cuisine at elBulli for more than a decade. Her position at Mas Pau ended in October 2010; currently she is figuring out her next step.
What task did you like best at elBulli?
One of the things I liked was prepping the sugar cane [for the caipirinha and mojito cocktails]. I was in charge of the task, and just had to square them off and vacuum seal them. I enjoyed making sure they came out perfect.
And the least?
I didn’t like making the shabu-shabu or the roses before service. They’re both very tedious (and very slow) jobs.
What was your impression of Ferran during your time there?
He is a very professional person, and very committed to his work. I always had the impression that you’d be talking to him and he was thinking about something else—another way to progress or do things differently.
Any good stories about him?
One day I was going taking the oil out, and Ferran was climbing the stairs in front of me on his way home. Halfway up, he stopped, ripped off his chef’s jacket, swung it over his shoulder, and kept walking, bare-chested. I remember thinking: Ha! This guy is as human as the rest of us.
You became romantically involved with another stagiaire during your time at elBulli. What was it like to work with your boyfriend?
It was fun working with him. A lot of times it made the work more pleasant—like when we had to remove the stones from the olives, we had this funny little game of glances between us. But it also created more pressure some times, because if something happened to one of us in the kitchen, it would indirectly affect the other.
What was your favorite family meal?
Easy: pasta with pesto. For a family meal, it was amazing!!! And if you want another, the saffron rice. Ferran’s attitude about family meal is very impressive.
If you had to sum it up, what was the most important lesson you learned at elBulli?
I’d describe elBulli’s lessons as: creativity, collegiality, and desire (to achieve what you set out to do).