At some point in life we all ask ourselves – Am I living the life I wanted? Am I the person I want to be?
When things seem to go well, specially when you are successful at what you are doing, answering this question truthfully may not be as easy as one may think. Sometimes professional success does not come hand in hand with happiness, peace of mind or satisfaction. On a personal level, someone at the top of their game may actually feel profoundly unsatisfied.
This is what happened to Albert. During his first 23 years as a chef there were happy periods and also times of profound depression. The pressure and extreme self-demand, the never-ending game of trying to constantly create something new, the contradictions that come as part of the creative process and the lack of connection with a more “normal” life, meant there came a time when Albert told his older brother Ferran Adrià: we must kill the beast. We must kill it before it kills us. That beast was elBulli.
Even Ferran, main protagonist of elBulli, whose image, past and present are and will be linked to elBulli for ever, is able to admit: “what happened there was good, but was also not good, the pressure we put ourselves under was unhealthy.”
To be the best in the world has its price, so too does spearheading one of the greatest revolutions in culinary history.
Now the beast is dead, Ferran has been able to reinvent himself as the master of creativity. He lives happily researching pure creativilty at elBulli Foundation, funded by big companies such as Telefonica who are determined to associate their brands with his genius.
Albert, who jumped ship before elBulli was closed, worked at home whilst enjoying the first year of life of his only child Alex - the fresh start was a clear liberation.
Living comfortably in the shadow of his older brother turned him into “the most underated chef in the world”. It seems that Albert understood that his future was not within elBulli. That is why he rejected his brother’s offer to become a co-owner at the famous restaurant.
This is something both brothers share: the desire to have the final decision, to be the creator, of marking the path and shaping, then reshaping again.
Constructing Albert explores Albert Adrià’s efforts to recreate himself and the world around him, to free himself from the pressures put upon him by his association with his brother and the highly successful brand of elBulli that was to become the synonym of culinary creativity.
Albert is a fascinating character, enigmatic, great, but difficult and contradictory, sometimes harsh and self-centered. He could be viewed as an anti-hero than a hero, but that is precisely what makes his story so interesting and the process of bringing it to the light a true school of life. One must scratch the surfice, search, observe him during months to discover where his greatness come from: an incredibly unfussy generosity, a profound capacity to adapt and a willingness to accept mistakes as a part of growth, an unparalleled drive to search for the new and to offer his clients transforming experiences.
We join him in the construction of this new world, a world he always wanted to have, a world where he could create and destroy at will. In this journey we ask questions about ambition as a driving force and recognition as a source of self-value. We also we try to discern if, as the Irish author George Bernard Shaw wrote, "Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart's desire; the other is to get it".
Laura Collado and Jim Loomis