MasterChef 2014: Who is Ferran Adrià?

The Michelin-starred chef challenged cooks on Thursday's show

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The Independent Culture

As the 10th series of BBC One’s MasterChef nears its end, competitors were challenged to cook dishes by the revolutionary Catalan chef Spanish Ferran Adrià.

But for home cooks who are still getting to grips with whipping up a pasta dish by Jamie Oliver, Adrià’s name and why he is so influential may have gone over a few heads.

Here is all you need to know about the man who has been celebrated as the best chef of the century.

Born on 14 May 1962, Adria grew up in Barcelona, and would go on to revolutionise the Catalan food which he grew up with in the triple Michelin star restaurant El Bulli.

As a young boy living in the middle-class L'Hospitalet neighbourhood, he dreamed not of reaching great culinary heights, but rather playing his local team for FC Barcelona.

“I grew up eating normal food, of course. French fries. Just like any other kid in Spain. I started being interested in food purely by accident,” he told The Independent.

After dropping out of school he worked at various restaurants and ran his first kitchen during his military service.

In 1983, he began working at the restaurant El Bulli, which at the time served a seafood tourist menu influenced by French haute cuisine.

When the head chef left six months later, he took the helm alongside fellow cook Christian Lutaud.

A clear inspiration for chefs like Heston Blumenthal – whom he is close friends with  - Adrià was the first to use a soda siphon to make flavoured foams.

The restaurant’s now iconic experimental menu began taking shape in 1994, when Adrià abandoned classical cookery and pioneered what he calls "technique-concept cuisine".

By 1997 El Bulli was awarded a third Michelin star, and was voted the Best Restaurant in the World in 2002 and from 2006 to 2009.

In 2010, Adria was awarded Best Chef of the Decade, and he decided to close El Bulli forever in the same year.

Last year, hosted a global exhibition of his food, which appeared in Somerset House.

He now lives between Roses on the Costa Brava and Barcelona with his wife, Isabel.

Read more: El Bulli in pictures
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