How Ferran Adrià Came to Harvard: A Kind of Love Story

Ferran Adrià
Ferran Adrià Photo: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

The liquid nitrogen’s been put away, the last morsels of hot Jell-O have been devoured, and now all that’s left is the afterglow. Today’s Globe offers a retrospective on how Harvard’s Science & Cooking course came to be. According to the story, the series had “few believers, but one visionary” — Otger Campas, the Harvard postdoc who wooed Ferran Adrià to Cambridge.

One evening in 2008, Campas was in his small office, watching an instructional DVD by Adrià, a fellow Catalonian. Suddenly, Campas got a crazy, brilliant, exciting idea. Why not invite the famous chef to Harvard, to talk about the physics of food?

According to the story, Campas ran down the hall to David Weitz, a professor of physics and applied physics, who “tried to temper his expectations,” essentially asking Campas how the hell he could ever expect to win over a guy like Adrià. Campas was undeterred. He tried to contact him anyway.

Now comes the juicy part: Says the Globe, “the result was like a Craigslist date where each person is amazed the other is interested.” Adrià responded right away. The wheels were set in motion. He traveled to Harvard for two heady days, during which he gave a “blockbuster” public lecture. Flush with this success, Campas posed the question he’d been dying to ask: Might Adrià spearhead a course in the physics department in 2010?

He said yes. Yes! And the rest, of course, is history. Well, his expertise came with a small price: In return, he asked Harvard physicists to travel to Spain to help him create edible foams and solid ice creams. Done. A little bit of chemistry, and a little bit of physics.

A First Course Gets High Grades
[Boston Globe]

Earlier: Ferran Adrià and Dan Barber Will Teach Culinary Physics at Harvard

How Ferran Adrià Came to Harvard: A Kind of Love Story