When star chef Ferran Adria announced he was to close the doors of Catalonian restaurant elBulli - famed for its its radically inventive fare and impossible-to-get tables - in 2010, he prompted a wave of mourning among the gastronomic cognoscenti.
With dishes such as parmesan marshmallows and melon caviar gracing the 30 course menu, the three Michelin star eatery was repeatedly voted the best in the world, so it was with anticipation that we waited to hear what the culinary wizard had next up his sleeve.
At a recent dinner, hosted by Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica, for whom he is brand ambassador, Adria unveiled his plans for a new gastronomic laboratory, which has been slowly simmering under the radar for some time. ‘We’re not closing, we’re transforming,’ explained the chef. He told us that he did contemplate selling the restaurant, but felt it wasn’t what it deserved and that he wanted the legacy to continue in some way.
Due to open in 2014, the elBullifoundation is the next stage in expanding the ideas that Adria and his team have been developing over the past 25 years. Due to employ a team of up to 30 (15 of them already existing), the new building is swiftly taking shape on the site of the original restaurant, which is tucked away on the Catalan coast in ‘El Parc Natural de Cap de Creus’, one of the largest natural reserves in Catalonia. Designed by Barcelona-based architect, Enric Ruiz Geli of Cloud9, and incorporating a material palette featuring the local mountain rock, it will be an unimposing structure that integrates with the landscape.
Completely self-sufficient, the eco-friendly complex will comprise four main departments, linked and surrounded by a resourceful and considered garden. The ‘Brainstorming’ room and the ‘Ideario’ will be the core of the creative centre and the first point of call for team members who will meet every day to conceptualise and then generate their ideas. This information will then be uploaded for public access in the ‘Worksharing’ space, while a new warehouse will house the considerable collection of awards and ever-growing elBulli paraphernalia.
The last stop for elBulli is a permanent installation, which is anticipated to be in the restaurant’s hometown of Roses. The venue is still to be decided, but the museum will house an historical archive of the establishment ever since its conception by Hans and Marketta Schilling on a once forlorn beach in the beginning of the 1960s.
Something of a national treasure in Spain, Ferran Adria has recently been venerated in a lustrous art magazine called ‘Matador’. Highlighting the history of elBulli along with Adria’s myriad creative achievements and his future plans that include the foundation, the magazine is a graphically executed publication that gives us a refined insight into the workings of the restaurant that was once the most famous in the world.