Design is the buzzword. It is growing so much than even innovation is being dragged by its force of attraction. The world of design surprises us every day with new concepts and revolutionary techniques. But beyond all this activity, there are small clusters of creativity that have nothing to envy to the best design consultancies. This is the world of gastronomy.

On the occasion of the visit to the exhibition on the chef Ferran Adrià and the restaurant El Bulli, in Barcelona, we will see in this article how some of the latest creative techniques are being applied from the field of gastronomy.

The creative process

The sophistication of the creative process in the great restaurants is reflected in the conceptualization of the process itself. This is the case in the following image, which reproduces the contents of a panel showing the creative process according to Ferran Adrià.

Prototypes

The use of prototypes as design tools of products or services is becoming more widespread. The prototypes make ideas tangible and, therefore, easier to understand. An example of this is given in the following picture.

At El Bulli, each dish was reproduced in plasticine, a modeling clay, to serve as a practical manual for the team when they had to prepare a recipe.

Visual thinking

Another technique that is revolutionizing the design is the visual thinking. The visual thinking is a graphical representation of complex ideas through pictures, symbols and letters. Using drawings, people can visualize and simplify complex processes (there is a very interesting post about this in the Duarte Blog).

Again, El Bulli surprises us because, as seen in the picture below, the visual thinking practice was not foreign to their creative activity (although they may not call it that way).

Sharing inventions

At this point, it is necessary to reproduce the text of one of the panels of the exhibition that specially drew my attention:

“In the late 1990s, avant-garde cuisine took a major turn. For the very first time, in a world that had tended more towards secrecy, chefs realized that cooking would evolve more quickly if everyone shared what they had discovered. This knowledge exchange was carried out against the backdrop of courses and conferences that began to be organized at that time”.

The gastronomic conferences are the forum in which the best minds show their new creations, techniques and ideas, and we have all benefited. It is hard to imagine what haute cuisine would be today without this exchange of knowledge among chefs.

Countering the argument that displaying creations publicly favors forgery, the transparency has protected authorship. By exposing to the world their inventions, chefs make sure that, thereafter, no one will doubt who the author is.

The Peach Melba, invented in 1892 or 1893 by the French chef Auguste Escoffier, on Wikipedia.

A time to create

One of the greatest innovations of El Bulli was the closing during the low season months. The main purpose of this parenthesis was to systematize creation.

These months were devoted to review all the notes with the new ideas that had arisen at work, visit other chefs, attend conferences and meet to make new creations.

Obviously, not every business can afford to close for months to be creative, but alternative formulas can be found, as, for example, devoting a few hours a week to innovation. What seems clear is that it is very difficult to innovate when our attention is focused on daily chores.

I will take example from El Bulli and I’ll devote August to think about new issues.

See you in September!