If you’re an active social media user, your feeds are probably filled every day with people taking photographs of their meals, whether or not the food they’re eating is really worthy of being captured.
Over the course of an award-winning career, Spanish restaurateur Albert Adrià has been responsible for crafting wildly original meals and desserts that actually are works of art. He was still a teenager when he joined his older brother Ferran to oversee the pastry department at elBulli, their Michelin 3-star restaurant in Catalonia. When the decision was made to close in the summer of 2011, elBulli had already been named best restaurant in the world five times over. What comes next after that kind of success? If you’re Albert, you take a year or two off to start a family.
When the documentary “Constructing Albert,” from co-directors Laura Collado and Jim Loomis, gets underway in the spring of 2013, Albert is referred to as one of the world’s most underrated chefs. And if you’re being underrated, the natural instinct of most people would not be to open multiple new concepts in the same general area of a city. But that is exactly what he decided to do.
The film chronicles Albert’s journey from 2013 to the end of 2016. It offers an incredible opportunity to examine the raw creativity of a man obsessed with reinventing food concepts and expanding the way people view gastronomy. We are offered a simple fly-on-the-wall perspective – there are no talking heads, no outside perspectives positing on his next steps. The only time that creeps into the narrative at all is when we sit in on occasional interviews between Albert and food journalists from around the world trying to make sense of his plans and when his brother Ferran weighs in as new concepts are floated.
MORE SXSW 2018 film reviews: “Final Portrait,” “A Quiet Place,” “1985” and more
It doesn’t just seem crazy when Albert declares that he’s going to launch five new restaurants over the course of one year; it seems downright impossible. In the world of business, one can be successful without passion for what one is doing if you make the right connections. In the world of food, it mostly balances on the team you put together in your kitchen.
Within the first year, two of Albert’s new eateries are lauded with their first Michelin stars, but one of them is audaciously killed off with the notion of reinventing it. He succinctly sums up his plan by saying that if you “sell an Audi to buy a Ferrari, there’s no need to cry.”
Despite the evident chaos in juggling new locations and multiple food genres, there is always joy on Albert’s face whenever his son comes into the room. He’ll stop whatever he is doing to hug him tightly or kick a soccer ball around on the street outside. “Constructing Albert” introduces us to an intensely focused man who values his family and the people who help bring his ideas to life as much as he does forging a new path in the culinary world.
“Constructing Albert” screens again at 4:45 p.m. March 12 at Alamo Lamar and at 2:15 p.m. March 16 at Stateside. Grade: B