If you haven’t yet made the pilgrimage to El Bulli, Ferran Adrià’s showcase for molecular gastronomy and other forms of culinary alchemy, it’s probably too late. The world-famous Catalonian hideaway will permanently shutter its doors after dinner is served on July 31.
Which isn’t to say El Bulli, after more than 20 years with Adrià at the helm, is destined to become a footnote in restaurant history. On the contrary, this spring Adrià, 49, announced in New York that he is already Adriàworking with Telefónica, the Spanish telecom giant, to create the elBulli Foundation by 2014 on the same grounds where the restaurant currently stands. The foundation’s aim, according to Adrià, is to provide future chefs and culinary professionals open access to recipes, techniques and other El Bulli inventions that have been practiced and perfected over the years. It may turn out to be a think tank; or maybe a test kitchen of sorts; even a library. The ultimate goal, said Adrià, is for it to be a bit of all of the above, with 20 or so fellowships being offered annually to international chefs who will come to the tiny Costa Brava village of Roses to conduct research and interact with one another and Adrià.
Speaking in March at New York University, the Barcelona-born chef, who many observers consider to be the most creative and inspiring cook since Escoffier in the 19th century, said the foundation was the best way to leave something behind. “We aren’t multimillionaires with a fleet of yachts,” he said of himself and longtime partner Juli Soler. But he acknowledged that they have done well together, and the foundation will be their way of ensuring and expanding the restaurant’s legacy.
In the meantime, Adrià hasn’t traded in his chef’s whites for golf or fly fishing. He is still cooking and conducting at El Bulli through July while also concentrating on a new Barcelona bar and tapas emporium that he opened earlier this year with his brother, Albert. The bar, called 41°, specializes in classic and modern cocktails; next door is Tickets, a forum for contemporary tapas.
Adrià also noted that there may be a movie in the near future based on the recently released book by Lisa Abend entitled The Sorcerer’s Apprentices, which chronicles the collective experience of 35 unpaid stagiaires as they complete a season in the El Bulli kitchen. Abend said rights to develop the movie are currently being shopped around but that no studio has committed to producing the film.