18 Ago 2015 Heart: The Adrià brothers & Cirque du Soleil’s joint project in Ibiza
Brothers Albert and Ferran Adrià and Cirque du Soleil’s joint project in Ibiza which made it’s debut this summer, embodies an alliance between gastronomy, entertainment and art, through a triple concept: Terrace, a terrace designed as a ‘casual’ market comprised of ‘streetfood’ stands; Supper, a space to develop a haute cuisine experience, that tries to escape the conventional format of a restaurant; and Club, as the nocturnal offering for a drink. We explain the different spaces and their offerings, as well as the organization and the creative process derived from this multiconcept business, which has even revived the ‘old days’ in elBullitaller in Barcelona and that has materialized a new formula of ‘Adrià language’ (this time outside of Catalonia), four years after the closure of El Bulli restaurant.
To ally creative talents from different fields is not a new format. It´s occurred crossing art, film, architecture, literature, music and, of course, cuisine. Allying entertainment and gastronomy is not something new; Perhaps, having originated many centuries ago, its continuation in the last hundred years (you can read some examples here) and recent examples in formats, as the theatricality tested almost three decades ago in Nice by Jacques Maximin, author of the phrase that, pronounced in 1987, marked the future of Ferran Adrià and El Bulli: «To create is to not copy».
Perhaps with this statement as an inspiration (or as a strict rule), the brothers Albert Adrià and Ferran Adrià assumed, little more than over one year ago, a challenge derived from the agreement then signed with Cirque du Soleil: to create a unique experience, that has never existed before, that allies the two talents in gastronomy and performance that the two parties of this ‘contract’ add. The result is Heart, a multi-space located in Ibiza Gran Hotel, where the kitchen is headed by the saga Adrià and the show created by Cirque du Soleil, have paired since this summer.
When, at the end of last May, the project was presented (on the 29th of that month reservations opened, initially via online and, currently, only by phone system), with the idea to start a month of tests and rehearsals for ‘family & friends’ and open on June 30, this was the definition dedicated to Heart: «a new multi-sensory concept, a park for cultural, musical, artistic and culinary entertainment for adults in the enclave of the best international leisure. In any case, the project had been announced last February.
So this past June 30, was the official start date, although with a reality to keep in mind: in its first weeks of operation, Heart has changed its menu offerings several times and, above all, to interact with the client, taking into account that it is the first time that the Adrià brothers leave Catalonia (where from Cala Montjoi they jumped to Paralelo, to build a group with the brand – before – BCN 5.0 and now elBarri, with Tickets – placed as number 42 of the ’50 Best’ list – as the spearhead), in this case, to cater to a market with some very specific distinctive features such as Ibiza.
The rules of Heart
Through Gastroeconomy’s visit ten days ago to Heart, we explain its multi-offering in its different spaces and concepts for dining. Some early clues can serve to situate the project. One is that it is located in the ground floor area of Ibiza Gran Hotel, in the Paseo Juan Carlos I of Ibiza, in a space that was formerly a restaurant of this hotel – The Jackpot – and a part of the Casino (which is still functioning after being remodeled and after giving a few meters to Heart; while another ‘neighbor’ of this ground floor, Cipriani, continues in its same location).
Two: with interior design by Patricia Urquiola, Heart totals 3,500 square meters distributed between three spaces (Terrace and Supper Club).
Third point to take into account: the vocation of Heart is to combine various disciplines: «magic and artistic creativity of Cirque du Soleil, the cooking styles from different parts of the world with the unmistakable seal of Ferran and Albert Adrià, the most avant-garde art in the hands of renowned international artists such as Takashi Murakami, Miguel Chevalier, Jeppe Hein, or Rafael Lozano-Hemmer;» and the most current music in the charge of bands and DJ’s of reference. Bodypainters, urban contemporary choreographers, dancers, mural painters, dancers and muses» complete the experience.”
Four: to realize that alliance of disciplines, Heart is conceived as a changing space, in which each day «will be lived in a different way,» with gastronomic offerings and performances that will vary periodically. «The Cirque du Soleil was clear that they didn’t want to be a circus and it was clear to us that we didn’t want to be a restaurant. And, neither wanted a ‘dinner show’ «, summarizes Albert Adrià’s team.
And five, the agreement with Cirque du Soleil is derived from the relationship between its founder, Guy Laliberté (an Ibiza lover since thirty years ago) and the brothers Adrià.
How to reserve
Heart does not operate at midday and opens every day only in the evening and nights. It is necessary to reserve in advance (via telephone, the only possible system at present) and provide the credit card details; in the call to book, the client is informed of each space’s offers, Heart’s global operation and the applicable rules in case of cancellation. In any case, it is necessary to choose between two options: Terrace, the most ‘casual’ format located on the patio of the upper floor; and Supper, the most gastronomic, on the ground floor. Both experiences can end, if the client wishes, in Club, conceived for a drink later in the night and that forms part of the entry area (with its two bars) with the conversion of Supper (it changes from one format to another, as soon as dinner service ends). But, in any case, it is necessary to decide beforehand which of the two dining spaces (Terrace and Supper) one wants to visit to have dinner. Either a more formal or less formal setting, since it is not permitted to visit both on the same night.
On the other hand, upon booking, the customer commits to pay a base price, a kind of entry fee: 80 euros for Terrace and 150 euros for Supper. In reality, it is equivalent to minimum consumption (minimum spending) in each space.
Access to Heart
There are two ways to physically access Heart, directly through a door from the street or through a common hall or lobby shared by this multi-concept and Casino de Ibiza. Once inside the space, which in the afternoon welcomes the artists’ and Heart staff’s ‘family meal’ (you can see some pictures from the photo gallery attached at the end of this story) a staircase to the right takes one to entrance of Terrace (on the upper floor) or, if one’s booked at Supper then one moves directly to the area at the back, perhaps with a stop at one of the bars for a welcome cocktail. In this second case, you go through a corridor that is parallel to the Supper room (which is separated by a curtain), where towards the back a kitchen in view works live and where low tables serve as a passage/route for the dishes headed to the ‘dining room’; at the opposite end of the kitchen, is a large stage, flanked on the left by an installation of virtual reality created expressly for Heart by French digital artist Miguel Chevalier (who for this season was consigned two permanent installations of generative virtual reality and interactive 3D art).
To tend to this triple concept structured within two floors and 3,500 square meters, Heart has a team composed of about 330 professionals, artists, cooks (about 80), waiters, logistics personnel and management. If the challenge of the Adrià has been to devise various gastronomic formats for different spaces, the challenge for the team of Cirque du Soleil has been to create artistic content for every culinary concept and for every moment of the different experiences proposed by Heart. These contents are permanent in some cases, such as the exposition of works of art throughout the summer 2015. While others ‘operate live’, through performances or acts that occur at different moments and spaces in this multi-format of Ibiza.
Located on the top floor, at the same height as the Ibiza Gran Hotel’s pool, Terrace occupies 1500 square meters. It is the ‘casual’ option of Heart. Started under the inspiration of recreating a market or a bazaar and, in any case, it is a space that positions/wagers street food. It is the result of the reflection of the Albert and Ferran Adrià brothers about what is and how to serve the now very well-known ‘street food’. «We are in a ‘street food market’ with food trolleys from different parts of the world», summarizes the team, for whom Ferran Adrià set the main challenge: not to disappoint the expectations of the customers who come looking for food of the Adrià in street format.
With capacity for about 250 customers, sitting in different areas with tables and a bar, Terrace is a sum of stands, booths, ‘corners’, mobile carts, and even recreations of ‘foodtrucks’ (almost all fixed), which serve different types of food.
This concept works with tokens similar to a casino: each one is equivalent to 5 euros. It is its own currency. Given that, when the client books for Terrace, he/she assumes a minimum expenditure of 80 euros, and receives the equivalent in chips, arriving: i.e. to 16. The diner takes a seat at the site he has reserved; receives the tokens; order drinks (there is a service on board) and, for the food, can try dishes that some waiters offer on trays (type ‘Betty Boops’) or take a stroll through the various stands and choose what he/she wants (some carts also approach the tables). Every bite is elected and paid with tokens at the time. The common price of all the dishes is a tab per unit (‘chip’ or 5 euros), except for the ham (3 chips) and oysters (2 chips).
Terrace, which operates from 21:00 to midnight, is a sum of 12 carts or ‘stands’, mobile or fixed. Each has its menu, posted on a slate, that implies its specialization in a type of food. Thus, there are juice carts or ‘Sandría’; salad stands; oriental ‘corner’ (with yakitoro or gyozas); a psychodelic booth of gofres (‘waffles’) savoury and sweet; a Peruvian kitchen booth; a Mexican stand; a ‘counter’ (‘Made in Spain’) of ham, cheese and ‘sphered’ olives; a fixed trailer, baptized as Earth, that serves a variety of meat (like hamburger or pork rib), along with croquetas, patatas bravas and bikinis (ham and cheese sandwich); and a sweet ‘foodtruck’, among other offerings.
Based on the ideas of the Adrià and Cirque du Soleil, the carts were designed by Taller de Piñero, taking into account the type of food it sells, according to each form of production and, in addition, according to the way of cooking required. Meanwhile, the dishes that serve as tableware in Heart are, mostly, disposable and made of biodegradable or recyclable material.
While one eats and strolls among the food stalls, entertainment (dancing and live music) develops. Without a reserved table, a customer can go through Heart and go up to Terrace if there is room, for a drink seated or standing at the central bar, buying chips upon arrival.
To ensure its operation, this area, as well as all of Heart, has observers sent by Albert Adrià responsible to monitor the progress of all jobs and with Arnau Muñío as head of the terrace. In any case, Heart has an «external-troubleshooter, problem solver and observer», in issues such as reservations, service in room (Terrace and Supper) and reception, Lluís Garcia, the current director of elBullifoundation and is responsible for years of reservations at El Bulli, where he was one of the key pieces of the Ferran Adrià team.
Located on the ground floor of Heart, with the kitchen in view, dining room, stage and art installations projected on the walls, Supper has a capacity for 150 customers. «It is the Heart space par excellence in terms of collision between food, music and art,» is its official introduction, to which is added: «A new way of enjoying the gastronomy».
In theory, Supper is Heart’s gastronomic space, compared to the ‘casual’ formula presented at Terrace. “We have not wanted to call it a restaurant. It is a restaurant that is not a restaurant”, declares the ‘adriatic’ team that has tried to design a new way of providing cuisine, that flees from the format of a conventional restaurant and which changes the way of interacting with the client (who, on the other hand, has dinner while it sees several shows and, partly, interacts with them). To comply with this declaration of intent, the tables are lower than in a conventional restaurant; dishes with knife and fork are combined with ‘finger food’ (eat with your hands) and, above all, support assumes a powerful protagonism. Thus, Heart (especially in the area of Supper) features custom designed tableware, the result of joint work between the Adrià and Cirque du Soleil, and realized by Taller de Piñero (more on this later). «The idea is to convey that a conventional dinner is not experienced here», they insist on Supper.
Even so, Albert Adrià says: «We are not going to invent, nor revolutionize, gastronomy here;» «The idea is to look for something that will be enjoyed, which is good and fun on the plate and feasible to execute without a ‘mise in place’ very complex, taking into account that we have to attend to some 150 clients every day». Supper has in front as executive chef Rafael Zafra, a ‘Bulli guy’ who worked for years at Hacienda Benazuza (hotel-restaurant in Sanlúcar La Mayor that managed elBulli until its closure). To come up with the offering, «the simplest thing would have been to opt for the tasting menu (which, within the Group elBarri, exists in the japoperuano (nikkei) Pakta), but we believe that here it wouldn’t work;» I had to look at the way the diner had freedom to eat little or as much as he wanted. Another possible formula was a menu that would permit the client to compose a menu based on the dining room’s team suggestions (to the style of Tickets and Hoja Santa); However, with 150 clients to serve, this formula is almost impossible. None of these options convinced us», they point out.
Alternative? Up until a few days ago, it ran on an intermediate point: the so-called ‘Worlds’, menus, or parts of a menu, which allowed the guest to choose packs of dishes. Thus, there were four ‘worlds’: Far East (60 Euro per person), Peru (60 euros), Kaiseki (65) and Vegan Style (95). The offer was completed with loose dishes that could not be pigeonholed in the previous worlds (by its special character or its forcefulness) and had separate prices. On the one hand, a menu was comprised of three sections: ‘To begin’ (as the olives, the Cinco Jotas, ‘La Rubia Gallega’ ham, ‘Foie Gras with pickled duck sauce’ or ‘Have a tea with its tomato salad’, with prices of $5 per unit to 58 euros); ‘ To continue’ (‘Spidertartar ‘of tuna belly with caviar’, ‘The 2 nigiris Heart’ or the ‘ Giant King crab with mayonnaise light umeboshi’, 48 to 120 euros); and ‘To finish’ (‘Ribs in marinade with your tortillas’ or ‘Old cow of Burgos’, 38 to 42 euros). On the other hand, there was another ‘loose’ menu specializing in ‘The caviar and oysters’, with several options to try both products, including a ‘Journey to the world in 10 oysters’ (10 euros per unit). Attached to all of the above is the World sweets: Tropic, Classic and Txoc, from 22 to 40 euros per world; in addition to three desserts ‘Specials’ independent -also in price-.
This format of the ‘Worlds’ arrived at the table printed on several letters with airplane ticket designs and fastened with pegs to various vehicles (small toys) attached to a globe. This world globe (see image), that was equivalent to ‘the menu’, was an idea of Ferran Adrià as support.
Finally and to adapt the concept to a daily service of about 150 people, which usually have dinner in approximately a couple of hours, Supper is, since a few days ago, operating with a menu of dishes, which is comprised of virtually the existing offer so far within the ‘Worlds’ (about 80 dishes), but without being structured by packs or mini menus.
What should one order at Supper? It is convenient to be advised and guided by the dining room’s team (in addition, new dishes are still being created and testing of new formats can change in opposition to what we are explaining here). «We test each table to see how hungry the diners are and, accordingly, recommend,» they explain at Supper. Always under the rule: there is a minimum expenditure of 150 euros, that the customer is committed to upon booking at Supper. That is, the order is totaled and the resulting price is paid, but, if it is less than that figure, at least, the 150 euros is always paid.
Something more: «Everything is designed to be shared [in fact, a few cubes serve as auxiliary tables to support the trays with all the dishes to the side of the table], although in everything is comprised of single portions«. Meanwhile, the experience of these few weeks in Supper proves that there is little booking for tables of two people. On the other hand, there are many for between four and fourteen guests in line with the general tone of the gastromarket of Ibiza.
In some cases, the Supper dishes are new, and others, come from other businesses of elBarri, such as Tickets, Pakta or Winery 1900. There is creativity, top product, originality in the way of conceiving the dish and the presentation in fun tableware and, in line with the ‘Bulli culture’, mathematical precision in execution. At full rythmn, that is for sure. «I do not think that there is a restaurant in Spain where there is this pace of turning out dishes: a minimum of a 150 clients are served in little more than three hours and each table is served many elaborations», says Rafael Zafra, who manages the pass, from which the dishes parade from the kitchen to the Supper dining room.
An observation: Supper is reminiscent in atmosphere; in part, on ‘look’; and, of course, in multiplied dimensions, of the late space 41 º, cocktail-snackeria with tasting menu which closed a year ago in Barcelona’s Paralelo, whose space today is occupied by the party of the sweet kitchen of Tickets (along with a few tables) and that in 2016 Enigma will take the replacement within elBarri.
Between 1:30 and 2:00 in the morning, Supper is transformed into Club, the nocturnal space of Heart, designed for a drink and dance. The curtains that separate the dining area from the area of the bars are opened and the space becomes a club. Here, it is possible to gain access because a table has been reserved previously (with the option to purchase ‘bottle service’ or, even, to order something to eat) or without a previous reservation (what implies that if there is no room, the client will have to be stand while having a drink). Club operates until early morning (for example, the Sunday and Tuesday, until 7:00 in the morning, for being days on which special parties are scheduled).
Heart has, in fact, a fourth concept: just upstairs from Supper and at the level of the Terrace, Atrio is set up as a hybrid between the two formats: Diners dine on the Terrace and enjoy Supper’s performances, under a formula that has a price of 120 euros.
Creativity in recent months
What it is today Heart is the result of a job in record time: approximately six months of works in Ibiza Gran Hotel and almost a year of work, especially in the last few months (February to May). Like this, professionals of the ‘Adrià team’ have worked in the creation of concepts, dishes and even tableware. To accomplish this work, elBulli was partly reborn through the space in which, for years, the annual creativity of the menu of each season for Cala Montjoi was worked in: elBullitaller, located in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona, has been the place in which Heart has been developed during the last months.
And so, those days that the heads of the kitchen at elBulli dedicated during the winter to create in Barcelona the dishes for each season at Cala Montjoi have been replicated in 2015 with a different team integrated by the key professionals of the circle of Albert Adrià, dedicated to devise conceptually Heart, with their dishes, media and ideas. «This reminds me of the old days«, said Ferran Adrià, in one of his visits to the Barcelona workshop. In fact, Heart starts exactly now that it has been four years that elBulli closed as a restaurant (on 30 July 2011, involving the development of a new creative process and the return of Albert and Ferran Adrià to another hotelier format, following a stage in which the former has led the construction of elBarri (as a brand of a business group located in the Parallel Barcelona, with the brothers Iglesias as partners). Something like the ‘reliving’ of elBulli in ‘Adrià language’ in a new market as is Ibiza.
For the other partner’s part in the Heart project, «the idea was to create an entirely new concept, that did not exist before or for the Adrià, nor for Cirque du Soleil.
We wanted to achieve integrated artistic contents in the dining experience and also vice versa, to have a balance between the two and get the customer to enjoy, and above all, have fun from any point of view,»says Frank Helpin, creative director of Heart Ibiza. «It is fascinating to work with the Adrià brothers; We have gotten to know their way of creating, very useful for the vision of Cirque du Soleil; It is something that has generated and continues to generate many synergies between us», reflects.
If we total the dishes created for Supper and Terrace, Heart has led to the generation of about 120 or 130 dishes or snacks. «Albert taught us to be productive when creating the dishes, as we had to create many for the different spaces in Ibiza», comments his team.
In this creative process, the cooks received at elBullitaller Cirque du Soleil team, which, for its part, was immersed in the design of the artistic content for Heart and that, in addition, contributed ideas, for example, for the design of the trolleys and food stalls of Terrace to the tableware to serve the dishes of ‘Streetfood’ at Terrace and the gastronomic offer of Supper.
«How we can serve the food?”, was the question posed for response among the gastronomic and artistic creators that form Heart. «It is the result of a collaboration with Cirque du Soleil», they clarify. The answer came in the practice via the Taller de Piñero, the Alicante Studio behind, for example, the new area of desserts of Tickets (in the space occupied before by 41°). Thus, the tableware is a vehicle to express ideas and generated concepts to build Heart.
Among the tableware ‘made in Heart’, De Piñero has designed a frog as a support to a dish that requires the diner to double kiss this invertebrate figure, skulls of colours to serve a Ceviche, a stand for the ham, a spider carrying a Tartare of tuna, a tongue to support an oyster or a Chair in which ‘a makicausa sits’ (based on an idea Guy Laliberte had that required something to be eaten off a chair). The studio, specialized in themed restaurants, was also charged some pieces of furniture and all the trucks of Terrace, from ideas developed by the teams of Adrià and Cirque du Soleil.
The team is another key element in the Ibiza project. During the months prior to the opening, the Adrià and their team developed a selection process to find waiters ready to work for only four months in Ibiza, at Supper and at Terrace. With regard to the cooks, the ‘Adrià school’ nurtures the majority of the project: elBarri staff (like Tristan Lopez, arrived from Tickets), elBulli or Hacienda Benazuza is at the forefront of the double offering at Heart. Likewise, apart from the presence as an observer, Lluís Garcia (immersed in the project of elBullifoundation, together with Ferran Adrià, in elBullitaller in Barcelona) and Rafael Zafra (chef of Supper from Hacienda Benazuza); Stagiers’, who had completed their practices in other restaurants such as Tickets, have moved to Ibiza this summer and some professionals from Albert Adrià’s highly trusted team (like Xavier Alba, head of Ticket’s dining room; or Claudia Ferreres, chef assistant) as well as the different chefs from the premises of elBarri, periodically travel to the island to monitor the development of the project and to adapt the formats. «There is always someone from Tickets or Pakta, traveling to Ibiza from time to time. They take charge of the supervision of the concepts and give ideas on possible changes. In the end, among all, the format of every space is outlined. And for the professionals that come from Barcelona, it suits them well to leave their restaurants for a few days and to pass through Heart also enriches them». In other words, it is a synergy in both directions.
On the other hand, there is the ‘Grupo de Lobos’ (Group of Wolves), “detached from a concrete restaurant of elBarri and that they operate like mobile cooks. The are key wild cards, something like Albert’s hands in different places”, explains Albert Adrià’s team. Thus, professionals who make up this circle of trust or ‘Los Lobos’ can participate in any of the group’s projects, external events or consultations carried out by the chef, for example, for brands in Belgium and the Netherlands. Among them are Oliver Peña (former head chef at 41°), Miguel Estrada (former head chef of Tickets) and Diego Grimberg (ex-sous chef of 41° (kitchen); David Gil (pastry) and Marc Álvarez (cocktails), among others. At the same time, each restaurant elBarri (Tickets, Pakta, Bodega 1900, Hoja Santa y Niño Viejo) has its own head chef focused on each format, while this ‘Grupo de Lobos’ moves between projects, under a rule decided by Albert Adrià: each restaurant has its head chef.
Obviously, Heart has another non-gastronomic ‘leg’ on its team. Those responsible for Cirque du Soleil held a casting to recruit artists, dancers, musicians… And no, although the Cirque du Soleil is behind the project, there aren’t trapeze artists, nor tightrope walkers, but dancers or musicians, with costumes and staging under the ‘Cirque du Soleil brand’ in shows that accompany the dinner, without falling into the shrillness that, sometimes, there seems to be in Ibiza.
‘The Cirque du Soleil Show’
At Heart, there is originality and some necessary excess (from the tableware to the shows) to remind the client that he/she is in Ibiza and that, in any case, one must adjust to the local visitor. That´s why, suddenly, a saxophonist can be found playing in the restroom (mixed and conceptualized as a kind of almost luxurious living room); at Terrace, there are cooks-waiters transformed into ‘Betty Boops’ that stroll among the tables with trays to facilitate customer service; and, at supper and Club, there are ‘stewardesses’ (some literally dressed as such) that offer a sweet snack from an airplane service trolley or that deliver a shot through a galactic gadget (she, as matter of fact, is called the ‘galactic girl’).
Show and art
In parallel to the gastronomic experience, operates a wheel of daily shows, with performances, dance, and music, that develop while the eater eats at Supper or Terrace. If Frank Helpin assumes the global role as creative director of Heart; Alain Vinet is the musical director (a role he also plays at Cirque du Soleil); and there is another key piece in the whole project: José Corraliza, a Spaniard that for years he has worked at Cirque du Soleil and returned home a few months ago, with responsibility for the Heart project.
And, as Heart Ibiza is the sum of art, music and gastronomy, the space is full of exhibited works, selected by Ventana Contemporary, which acts as an ‘art curator’ and who have been chosen under one criterion: interaction with the observer so that the Heart client also feels like an actor.
Every afternoon, Heart looks like a studio, in which musicians, dancers and muses rehearse. Muses? Something like the go-gos of Heart, girls who dance and that are specialized in a particular function, such as the stewardess with the airplane service trolley. Meanwhile, in the basements of Heart, are the dressing rooms, an authentic ‘backstage’ where dancers and muses change and prepare, until the space (Club, as the night owl space) closes quite late in the morning hours.
And so it will be until the first or second week of October, the approximate date on which the Adrià and Cirque du Soleil project will complete its first season, until it re-opens its doors in the Spring 2016.
Heart. Ibiza Gran Hotel. Paseo Juan Carlos I, 17. Ibiza. Tel. 971 933 777
Terrace: 80 euros
Supper: 150 euros
Supper & Terrace open every day only in the evening and nights.
Club: From 1.30 a.m.
Photo source: MFG-Gastroeconomy / PHOTO REPRODUCTION IS PROHIBITED WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF GASTROECONOMY.