• Adrià dedicated the award to all Spanish chefs, “who have placed Spanish cuisine at an amazing level throughout the world.”
• For Ferran Adrià, “wine is the differential factor between eastern and western cuisine.”
Ferran Adrià received the 17th Prestigio Rioja Prize, granted by the D.O. Ca. Rioja Control Board in Logroño. He was awarded the prize for being the chef that has revolutionised the world of gastronomy and for his major contribution to the international promotion of Spanish food. Throughout his successful career, he has been accompanied by Spanish wines and particularly by Rioja which, like Adrià, enjoy widespread international recognition. Upon receiving the award, Ferran said that “the list of previous winners is a luxury in itself and I am proud to be the first chef. After the Príncipe de Asturias, this award is the most prestigious. I want to share it with Juli Soler, and all those who have gone through elBulli, as well as all Spanish chefs, who have placed Spain at an amazing level worldwide.”
The president of the Control Board, Luis Alberto Lecea, referred to the figure of Ferran Adrià as “a professional committed to his work in the kitchen with real passion and the creative spirit of a true genius, who has devoted much of his time to research. His success and brilliant finds are not therefore the result of chance, but of his great efforts and perfectionist nature —a perfectionism and an urge to surpass himself that are traits shared by Rioja grape growers and winemakers, in our constant pursuit of excellence in our grapes and wines.” He also thanked Ferran Adrià for supporting the promotion of Spanish wines: “His international renown has turned Ferran Adrià into a great world ambassador of our values, as not in vain he still deeply identifies with his roots, just like Rioja wine does. We are confident that his contribution will remain essential in increasing the positive perception of wine in society and in bringing closer to young people the moderate and responsible drinking habits that are typical of our lifestyle and our culture,” concluded Luis Alberto Lecea.
The Adrià ‘phenomenon’ has achieved a unique international impact. He was the first chef to be included in Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people. All this success has had an exponential dissemination: first for Spain, as his work has provided global exposure to Spanish culture and the excellence of everything “Spanish” as Ambassador of the Spain brand; and second, for Spanish cuisine, currently a world leader, and what Spain’s yearly 56 million tourists most appreciate. “When I travel outside Spain I am very proud of the generation of chefs and restaurateurs that we have. For the past ten years we have been among the best in the world and now it seems normal, but people don’t realise what this means and how difficult it is to get there,” says Adrià.
Ferran Adrià corroborated his appreciation for good wine and even his incipient admiration for its “magical” facet, showing great satisfaction with his Rioja experience: “If you eat with water, the flavour does not change. If you eat with wine, it will change, so wine is one more dish. It’s magical. Only one fruit —the grape— has had such a product created around it and this has not happened with anything else.” Ferran commented his conclusion about one of the great improvements over nature by the hand of man: “If there is something we can say that the man has improved over nature, it is wine.”
After closing elBulli, Ferran created elBulliFoundation in 2013, “because it is the time to give something back to society: creating talent means creating wealth, jobs and increasing the competitiveness of our setting.” “Our dream is for this to be a legacy for society. People did not understand that we closed ‘elBulli Restaurant’ so we would not close elBulli. It won’t be a school, but a culture centre. We have spent a year decoding the cooking genome, something that will serve all the schools in the world, explaining cooking in a different way.”
Theresa Zabell, 1998 Prestigio Rioja Prize winner, congratulated Ferran Adrià on behalf of several of the previous winners (Pedro Duque, Francisco Ayala, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Valentín Fuster, Sara Baras, Pau Gasol, Isidoro Álvarez, Cristóbal Halffter and Carlos Sáinz) and welcomed him to a winners ‘club’ where “we consider the Prestigio Rioja Prize a valued award that we have on display in a very special place in our homes.” On behalf of the jury, the secretary Gonzalo Sol, described the figure of Ferran Adrià, emphasising his entrepreneurial and creative spirit, “that led him, at the age of 25, to direct elBulli and, together with his partner, Juli Soler, to create a culinary research workshop in Barcelona, whose results were the origin of what Ferran represents and brings to the world today.”
The Prestigio Rioja Prize
The Prestigio Rioja Prize is a pioneering initiative in identifying wine and wine culture that, throughout its 16 editions, has been endorsed by famous figures from the fields of literature, music, art, science, business and sports. Thanks to this, the Prize has contributed to foster our society’s perception of wine as a traditional, exciting, cultured and, particularly, healthy food product.
The sixteen previous prizes have honoured Theresa Zabell, Sara Baras, Ana Patricia Botín, Carlos Sáinz, Antonio Banderas, Alejandro Sanz, Pedro Duque, Cristóbal Halffter, Isidoro Álvarez, Valentín Fuster, Plácido Domingo, Eduardo Chillida, Mario Vargas Llosa, Francisco J. Ayala, Federico Mayor Zaragoza and Pau Gasol.
The Prestigio Rioja Prize also enjoys the selfless collaboration of a jury panel comprised of seven prominent figures: Carmen Iglesias, María Teresa Álvarez, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Adrián Piera, Rafael Ansón, Luis Cabanas, Eduardo Arroyo, the D.O.Ca. Rioja Control Board President, Alberto Luis de Lecea, and Gonzalo Sol, who acts as Secretary.
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