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Review: Documentary 'Constructing Albert' follows a chef's quest for perfection

Review: Documentary 'Constructing Albert' follows a chef's quest for perfection
Chef Albert Adrià in the documentary "Constructing Albert." (Juno Films)

The Spanish molecular gastronomy restaurant elBulli (now closed) was considered the height of cuisine during its reign, and its head chef, Ferran Adrià, was lionzed as a legend. But what about his collaborators, specifically his brother, pastry chef and underrated legend in his own right, Albert? Laura Collado and Jim Loomis dive deep into the psyche of Albert Adrià in the documentary “Constructing Albert,” which follows the chef on a journey to push the boundaries of fine dining.

The observational film tracks Albert from 2013 to 2016 as he works on his own restaurant empire in Barcelona, Spain, maintaining, opening and working on half a dozen restaurants. He describes the process like a director making genre films: This one’s a taqueria, the other tapas. But it’s not just tacos and small plates. It’s a re-imagining of what food might be, a decontextualizing and recontextualizing of flavor and texture.

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His white whale is Enigma, a years-long restaurant endeavor in which Albert seeks to create an immersive piece of dining theater, requiring sacrifice and stress. As we watch Albert push his army of chefs, who respond to his demands with a combination of fear and laser-like intensity, we initially believe it’s because he wants to escape the shadow of his brother. But after many, many tastings, meals and concept designs, and witnessing his extreme focus, it becomes clear that fame isn’t what he’s chasing — it’s perfection in innovation. Anything less is eighty-sixed.

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‘Constructing Albert’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour 21 minutes

Playing: Starts July 13, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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