My Favorite Mistake

Article excerpt

Chef Jose Andres on getting kicked out of the kitchen.

It was December 1990, And I was 21 years old, working in a restaurant outside Barcelona for my best friend, Ferran Adria. Now he's known as the best chef in the world, but back then we were just kids, and he was trying to build up a new restaurant called El Bulli. One night he asked me to meet him at a restaurant in Barcelona at 7 o'clock to have a talk. I showed up and he wasn't there. These were the days before mobile phones, so after about half an hour, I left to go find a pay phone to call him. When I got back, there he was, irate. This is a man who likes to be on time, and he thought I disrespected him. He yelled at me for a long time and accused me of lying to him, then told me he didn't want me there anymore.

So there I am in the middle of Spain, it's raining, and I'm out of a job at a place I thought I would spend my entire career. The soundtrack of my life started playing. It was like those movies where there's a shooting and someone's little brother is shot in slow motion. I was just standing there in the rain, cars driving by. Within a week, I moved to New York to try something different. I had never thought about trying to be a chef in America, but I thought now was the right time, and I didn't have any other choices. …