El Bulli: Documenting the Legacy

BY MATT ESSERT

If you're a foodie or just into restaurants or cooking, you've probably heard of the culinary mastermind Ferran Adria  and his highly acclaimed restaurant El Bulli in Spain. After opening in 1964, the restaurant grew in popularity and acclaim, eventually gaining its third Michelin star in 1997, an honor only 81 restaurants in the world hold.

For as long as he's been at the helm of El Bulli, Ferran Adria  has been an all-star in the culinary world and a pioneer of the "molecular gastronomy" movement. But Adria  doesn't like that label. Instead, the chef calls what he does "deconstruction" and has said that "the ideal customer doesn't come to El Bulli to eat but to have an experience." Ferran clearly had a vision for the perfect restaurant and spent many years working towards it.

All that work has paid off and for several years, El Bulli has been talked about as one of the, if not the, best restaurants in the world. In recent years, the restaurant only operated seven months a year and of the two million reservation requests, the restaurant could only accommodate 8,000 diners each season. The extreme popularity has helped to create an aura about the restaurant that is well deserved. Diners get to enjoy an epic tasting menu that will sometimes feature as many as 30 separate courses, each with its own delicious twists, flavors, and surprises.

After nearly 50 years of forward-thinking service, Ferran announced that El Bulli would officially close on July 30, 2011. While striving to attain culinary perfection, Ferran and his kitchen suffered massive monetary loses and eventually decided to close the kitchen doors. The restaurant's website announced that El Bulli would take a few years off and re-open in 2014 as a culinary creativity center. It will be, according to the website, "a think-tank for creative cuisine and gastronomy and will be managed by a private foundation." After so many years creating wonderful and whimsical dishes like the liquid olive, it will be quite exciting to see what kind of research and innovation the culinary center will be able to produce.

Along these lines of learning and sharing knowledge, several books have been written by or about El Bulli and its legacy. Journalist Lisa Abend recently released "The Sorcerer's Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adria 's elBulli" which offered a glimpse at the life of an entry-level chef, or stagiaire (a cook who agrees to work for a small wage in return for a season as one of Adria 's apprentices), at El Bulli. Additionally, the restaurant itself has released a number of cookbooks and the work "A Day At El Bulli," in which Chef Adria  chronicles 24-hours at the restaurant.

While a lot of the El Bulli cookbooks are beautiful but daunting in offering many complicated recipes, this October, Ferran is releasing "The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria ;" a more accessible cookbook that aims to offer home cooks the ability to cook with some of the same spirit as the chefs at El Bulli. Getting this kind of insight into the mind of Ferran and the work that goes on behind the scenes at El Bulli will be invaluable to all chefs of any level that are trying to improve their culinary skills.

If you want to learn even more about El Bulli and Chef Adria , a new documentary is premiere's tonight at the New York City's Film Forum  titled "El Bulli: Cooking in Progress." The film chronicles the life and work of El Bulli and takes a deep look the behind of the scenes of the restaurant. It reveals the secrets behind the doors of El Bulli that would be otherwise inaccessible to the public. To get a sneak peek of the doc, check out the trailer below.

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The World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards

Five days are left until Restaurant Magazine announces the S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards. Last year, first place went to Noma, a restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, unseating five-time winner Ferran Adria's Spanish restaurant El Bulli. As Lisa Abend wrote in today's New York Times piece, the awards recognize the "cutting edge" in food, and reflect where "many in the industry - and well-informed diners - want to be eating now."

I hope that one day Harlem will be home to one of the world's best restaurants. Until then, which restaurant do you think will take the honor for best restaurant in the world this year?

Legendary Restaurant El Bulli is closing this year

By MarcusSamuelsson.com Editors

Ferran Adria's legendary restaurant El Bulli is closing this year.  For those who never got a chance to visit, there are two new options in the works.  This spring Adria will open a tapas bar and a separate cocktail bar in Barcelona. Called "Tickets" and "41 Degrees" respectively, these spots will be more relaxed, offering tapas for only five to six euros ($6.7 - $8). Tickets and 41 Degrees will offer Adria's fans a chance to try his innovative, experimental cuisine while El Bulli transitions into the El Bulli Foundation.

When the El Bulli Foundation opens in 2014, it will serve as a "think tank of gastronomic creativity." An unconventional, green building will house the Foundation. Although Adria announced that El Bulli will reopen as some kind of restaurant in 2014, too, he remains unsure of how it will operate.

Adria explains that he closed El Bulli because he wanted more balance in his life. But even when El Bulli shuts its doors, Adria will continue to exert a powerful influence over the food world. I'm excited to see what new ideas his Foundation comes up with in the years to come! Read more about Adria's future plans here and here.

World's Best Restaurant - Noma in Copenhagen by Rene Redzepi

Rene Redzepi, of Copenhagen's Noma Restaurant, is doing very exciting things right now with Scandinavian Cuisine. I enjoyed this article in the British Financial Times about this exciting young chef. At his restaurant, vegetables are star in dishes with ingredients sourced exclusively from the Scandinavian countries. As a fellow Scandinavian, I admire his "radical Nordic cuisine" and hyper-seasonality. Redzepi is a true chef, he says he never has days off. He said, "Everything you do, everywhere you go, you're always thinking about food.  Your whole life is food."  It's clear that his dedication has paid off, his restaurant just surpassed El Bulli as the "world's best restaurant" at the San Pellegrino Awards in 2010.

I can't wait to try his food, which all has a "link to [its] original environment."  Next time I head home to Sweden, I'll have to make a detour to Denmark.

Read the full article here..