Since chef Ferran Adrià took the decision in 2010 to close the doors of El Bulli - perhaps the world’s most famous restaurant - graduates of his kitchen have fanned out across the world.
Many of them have mounted new projects of their own, keeping Adrià’s avante-garde approach to cuisine alive, even as the great chef himself has largely avoided new projects of his own.
For the next two weeks, London will get a taste of one of his protégées’ work, as chef Rob Roy Cameron mounts a "pop-up" at Crispin restaurant in Spitalfields.
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Cameron's menu is influenced by his time in Spain, and will celebrate the best of British produce, with dishes including squid in smoked broth with preserved strawberries, and cured sardines with pickled onion and fennel water.
Ahead of the pop-up, The Week Portfolio caught up with Cameron to find out what food fanatics should expect.
You have worked in some of the biggest restaurants in the world - including arguably the biggest of them all in El Bulli. What were the three most important things you took away from your time there?
The first thing it taught me was to think differently, change my approach and view of food. You don’t have to do things the way they have always been done, you can find your own way. There isn’t just one way of doing things.
The second is the importance of your team. El Bulli wouldn’t work without the huge number of people working both front of house and back. Even though there were so many people working there, everyone was looked after. The team was referred to as the El Bulli family.
The third is maybe the importance of organisation and efficiency. There were so many moving parts that restaurant that if it wasn’t organised and controlled in every detail it would have been a disaster.
How does working in the restaurant industry in the UK differ from Spain?
It differs in small details but in general it’s pretty similar. I think it takes a certain type of person who chooses to work in the restaurant industry and I think that is the same in any country.
What do you think is the most exciting food London has produced in recent years?
I think for me at the moment what Jeremy at Ikoyi is doing is exciting for London.
And what are you critical of?
I think my one criticism would be that the scene could be more innovative but I think that can only be pushed by a demand from the consumers. My menu at Crispin for this pop-up is innovative and I’m hoping that I will introduce guests to new flavours, textures and ingredients.
You said you had an epiphany when you spent a month travelling by motorbike around Africa and your home country of Botswana. What did you learn through that experience?
I wouldn’t say an epiphany, it just gave me time to think and put things in perspective. When you are submerged in an intense environment such as a fine dining kitchen for such a long time your perspective of things change, and you put importance on things that might not necessarily be that important. So taking a break every now and then helps to remove the blinkers.
What are you bringing to Crispin for your two-week pop-up?
An interesting menu. Challenging the guests’ expectations but still being delicious food.
How will eating out change over the next 20 years?
Twenty years is a long time to predict a change. I think the Deliveroo movement is going to have a huge effect on eating out. It could be that people saying at home.
And where would you like to be by then?
I’d like to have my restaurant established by then and have had a positive influence on the industry.
Rob Roy Cameron will host the guest chef takeover from 3 to 14 September, offering world-class food for only £33.50pp for six courses (or £59 for one of everything between two). For more, visit https://www.crispinlondon.com/
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