Ferran Adria - Beyond El Bulli

by Neil Morris - 15 January 2013

Ferran AdriaIt would be impossible to talk about Spanish Chefs and not mention the looming shadow of Ferran Adria. However, there has been so much written about the former dishwasher from Barcelona and his restaurant El Bulli that sometimes the familiarity dilutes the importance of his contribution to the culinary world.

The work of Adria should never be taken for granted; his influence cannot be quantified and the reverberations will continue for many years to come. He has changed the landscape of modern cuisine, removed boundaries, pioneered new technologies and deciphered the poetic language of cookery. He has provoked the senses, stirred emotions, evoked memories and created order from the unbridled chaos of the culinary universe.

In Ferran Adrias world, there are no boundaries. He cooks with unshackled freedom to achieve harmony. A harmony that is sometimes familiar, sometimes new and occasionally challenging. The same rule applies to technology and many of the ground-breaking techniques developed at El Taller (his creative workshop in Barcelona) are now commonplace in the world’s finest kitchens. With new technology and a better understanding of flavour, texture and more importantly, the human senses, Adria has employed methods that have previously been untapped or unavailable to enhance the human experience.


Recently, another shackle to the creative process was removed - the restaurant itself. El Bulli was regarded as the best restaurant in the world and simply getting a table there had become the ultimate 'badge of honour' for foodies from around the world. With this esteem comes a responsibility to cater to your audience and everything that was created in Le Taller had to be developed with the restaurant in mind. It was because of these restrictions that Adria took the controversial decision to close El Bulli in order to concentrate on exploring and auditing the creative process beyond the confines of the restaurant.


The next stage of this evolutionary process, the El Bulli Foundation, began the same day that the restaurant closed its doors. The foundation is hard to describe in simple terms but it will provide an environment to create, conceptualise and experiment with complete freedom and it will embrace other disciplines such as art, design, technology and ecology.

The innovation and creativity will begin wth the building itself, which will be ground-breaking in its design and construction, and every aspect of the Foundation will be the result of careful collaboration and analysis of ideas. The building will contain, amongst other things, an archive that will contain all the data from El Bulli and beyond. This will form the basis of bullipedia - a complete worldwide culinary database available to all which will be curated by the top Universities of the world.

The project is exciting and bewildering in equal measures. Early glimpses hint at something completely original in every aspect; a hive of creativity that will be self-evolving, an ever-changing environment where ideas and concepts are seeds that are allowed to develop with unadulterated freedom. If it all sounds a little bit crazy to you... don’t worry, this is the world of Ferran Adria. Much like one of his dishes, it will make more sense once you experience it for yourself.



If you missed out on eating at El Bulli, don't worry, you can still get a taste of what was on offer by visiting Tickets, the Barcelona tapas bar opened by Adria and his brother Albert. You can read a review of Tickets by guest food blogger Alex Crossley here.


El Bulli | El Bulli Foundation | Bullipedia | Tickets - Barcelona

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