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Chosen Few

DW staff / dpa (ncy)June 17, 2007

Documenta, the German expo that takes the worldwide temperature of contemporary art, revealed Sunday that one of its own artists was the lucky first diner at the exhibition's Spanish culinary annex.

Critics are at odds as to whether Adria's culinary creations are indeed artImage: Francesc Guillamet

Ferran Adria, Europe's most famous living chef, has been officially appointed as one of the 113 Documenta artists because of culinary inventions such as foams.

He will serve a daily dinner for two during the 100-day expo.

Chilean-born Juan Davila, who lives and paints in Melbourne, Australia, was the first guest on Saturday at El Bulli, the restaurant at Roses, north of Barcelona, where one table has been declared a Documenta annex.

Critics irate

Selecting Adria as a Documenta artist has caused controversy with some critics who say a cook cannot make art.

Documenta's artistic director Roger Buergel caused fresh outrage with the admission that none of Adria's "art" would be seen, or tasted, among the 530 artworks gathered in Kassel, Germany.

He said he had already chosen all 100 recipients of El Bulli vouchers.

Davila, who has several sexually graphic paintings in Kassel, said of the meal, "It was a wonderful experience."

Surgery in the kitchen

Spanischer Starkoch Ferran Adria
Getting a table at Adria's restaurant requires years of waitingImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

Buergel, who weeks ago used the term "nonsense" for reports that Adria would not move to Kassel, later defended the designation of the Costa Brava table as an annex.

"Anyone who isn't crazy knows that a restaurant like El Bulli, which is as complicated as brain surgery, can't just up and move to Kassel," he said.

El Bulli was the place that invented culinary foam, consisting of natural flavors (sweet or savory) mixed with a natural gelling agent and squeezed from a whipped-cream canister with the help of nitrous oxide.

Documenta opened to the public on Saturday in Kassel and runs until Sept. 23.

Art's frontiers?

Adria also defended his own selection, saying he did not run a restaurant to make money, even if the menu du jour costs 240 euros ($320).

"I only want to encounter people willing to accompany me to the frontiers of art," he said.