It has been 10 years since elBulli closed on July 30, 2011, but it seems that it is still open. Not only for the memory, but also for a legacy that has multiplied its presence and its mark throughout the world. And also because its creator, Ferran Adrià, says he is still not aware of or fully understanding what happened there. This decade has been dedicated to deciphering it, through the creation of different innovation, dissemination and knowledge projects, such as his more than 20 encyclopedias to date. He continues mentally and actively in there through elBulli Foundation, still immersed in the capsule that revolutionized world cuisine while it was open and that Adrià keeps alive with the groundbreaking spirit of that adventure.
“Nostalgia? None, ”he says. And if it were to open again … “I would do the same,” he says. But then he does not have the slightest inconvenience in assuring: “Although I still don’t know very well what that was, what it consisted of.” To begin with, in the rupture of a corset and a hegemony: the one that historically kept France in the first place of the universal gastronomic reference until a boy from L ‘Hospitalet de Llobregat, who started as a dishwasher in a hotel in Castelldefels and became a good name making paellas, he destroyed that solemn world order with a restaurant of camping in Cala Montjoi (Girona) which was accessed by a road full of potholes and where you claimed to eat with your fingers.
That last dinner that he gave 10 years ago was made, side by side with his teacher, Juanmari Arzak, along with his brother Albert and some of those who had passed through his kitchen and already had stars in handfuls, the case of Massimo Bottura, René Redzepi , the Roca or Andoni Luis Aduriz … The 50 guests were served as an aperitif a version of their dry Martini, consisting of a reconstituted olive bubble that, placed on the tongue, one felt the gin and vermouth vaporize. Then, around the tables, half a hundred dishes ranged such as pistachio ravioli, liquid chicken croquettes, rose petals with ham marinated in melon juice …
The fire ceased and the now legendary chef who had been voted the best in the world ten seasons in a row hung up his chef’s jacket, but not his momentum. Ferran Adrià’s head has continued at a thousand revolutions per minute, busy, stimulated, restless: “Now I have another role, instead of creating dishes, I help create creators,” he says. If it closed, it was because he became convinced that in the field of cooking they had reached all possible limits. “We couldn’t go any further,” he says. They are still digesting his findings and those of the 2,500 cooks who passed through there, with him at the helm, since he was signed by Juli Soler in 1984.
Its wake remains in the spherifications, the foams, the nitrogen, the long menus or eating some dishes without cutlery when in a haute cuisine restaurant that was unthinkable, pure taboo … “Well, of all those things I am proud, they are techniques that Today everyone can recognize in various restaurants or see in MasterChef and that they came out of our experiments in elBulli ”, says Adrià. But, for him, the most important things were other things: “First, freedom as an unbreakable rule, as an ideology, in addition to challenging kids of different origins to explore their own borders and turn around what they knew. Also the fact of opening new bridges and new dialogues from gastronomy with other disciplines ”.
Adrià lists them. Those that were forged then and those that he believes should be undertaken from now on: “We were pioneers in a West-East dialogue, with Japan, with science, design and art.” Of the latter, his participation in the Documenta in Kassel (Germany) stands out, the first time that a space was opened for a cook in an event in the world of painting, sculpture or the conceptual. “From that experience I drew an important conclusion. It is clear to me that we cooks are creative and not artists. But that does not mean that as a creative person I cannot establish an exciting exchange with an artist and see where we are capable of going together ”.
To Harvard University, for example, as has been his case, with a course that he has maintained today since he was invited to teach it in 2010. Or to have four behind him. honoris causa awarded by the universities of Aberdeen (Scotland), Barcelona, Valencia and Montreal (Canada).
Or to accumulate in tens of bullipedias knowledge that categorizes the world through cooking, along with other disciplines. Through pandemic, Adrià embarks on new challenges. An old way of doing in the field of restoration must be rethought. “It is not normal that 50% of the restaurants that open close after five years,” he says. “We must reinforce the idea that, along with creativity, the product and the technique, we must learn by numbers. Because this is a business ”, he emphasizes.
They are duties yet to be perfected outside the kitchen. “What I have learned in these years I do not change for anything,” he says. “When we closed, my colleagues, partners and I believed that in two years we would understand what we had done at elBulli. We have ten and we are still deciphering it ”, he says. So the task continues and encompasses many areas. “From why an SME became a reference in business schools to how Juli Soler changed the role of room manager forever”.
Various answers have been obtained by the public in various exhibitions that have dealt with that experience and will continue to obtain them in the documentary that will premiere in September. Movistar +, The footsteps of elBulli. Or further, in 2023, when the Cala Montjoi space is reopened and the entire collection gathered in this last decade of exploration, questions and evolution towards the knowledge that Adrià undertook one day from his kitchens and led him to configure it another paradigm in gastronomy, science and creation.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.