Ferran Adriŗ: hereís what the new elBulli 1846 will be like

The chef announces heíll open a new space dedicated to cooking and research in 2018 in the old location in Cala Montjoi

15-07-2017

Ferran Adrià with the staff at Identità Expo in 2015: the Catalan chef announces he’ll reopen elBulli in Cala Montjoi in 2018

1846: it’s not a year but a number. It indicates the total dishes in the Catálogo General de elBulli, the online tool through which Ferran Adrià catalogued chronologically the preparations that marked the life of the iconic Catalan restaurant from 1983 to the 30th of July 2011, the last lunch.

Ferran Adrià at Identità Milano 2006

Ferran Adrià at Identità Milano 2006

This work, which lasted quite some time, «is not the result of vanity. We wanted the work we did to be acknowledged and recognisable», in Cala Montjoi. Now that even this task is completed, Adrià is ready to start again. He announced so a couple of months ago when commenting the publication of the last part of the Catálogo General; he stressed it again, a few days ago, in an interview he did for French newspaper Le Monde: «The new elBulli 1846 will be born in 2018 in the place where elBulli once was. It will be neither a restaurant nor a school, but a place dedicated to innovation and research. Imagine 25 people, the best creatives in every sector (design, psychology, science...) working together, using a restaurant like a playground and the knowledge acquired as a toolbox. This is the concept, which in fact is not that distant from what we did with elBulli, where we always tried to innovate while working».

Adrià with Massimo Bottura at Identità New York 2010

Adrià with Massimo Bottura at Identità New York 2010

Terry Giacomello and Ferran Adrià at Identità Milano 2006 (photo by Sandra Salerno)

Terry Giacomello and Ferran Adrià at Identità Milano 2006 (photo by Sandra Salerno)

1846 is the number of recipes created at elBulli, «but it’s also the year when Auguste Escoffier was born». Symbolic references, a starting point for the new project which is about to begin, after many difficulties: “This elBulli 1846 in Cala Montjoi is a bit of a serpent de mer for Ferran Adria ever since he hanged his pans on the wall” says Le Monde (in France, serpent de mer is a metaphorical reference to a project that finds it hard to being). Adrià admits it: «I got the idea as far as in 2006. elBulli 1846 will open - hopefully! – not before 2018. It will have a twofold mission: preserve the spirit of elBulli and convey the great acquired knowledge to future generations. Delays? My mistake was not realising how big the task we had given ourselves was. You should never work in haste: society goes too fast. Research, instead, requires time. We had issues with permits. This is our fourth project. But at last I believe we have understood what we want to do, completely».

Again Ferran Adrià at Identità Expo

Again Ferran Adrià at Identità Expo

The first, carefully selected visitors, will be able to discover elBulli 1846 at the end of 2018 – in the best scenario. The public instead will need to wait at least one more year. The most anxious will soon be able to visit website bullinianos.elbullifoundation.com, with the stories of all the chefs who worked at Cala Montjoi (see also: Those who... were with Ferran Adrià). An opportunity to measure the impact the restaurant has had on the recent years’ gastronomic world.

The historic elBulli in Cala Montjoi

The historic elBulli in Cala Montjoi

On top of elBulli 1846, the elBulli Foundación stands out also thanks to another project: elBulli Lab will transform itself into Bulliografia so as to welcome the archives of the elBulli adventure and make them accessible to as many people as possible. «We have another ambition – says Adrià – we want to write 25 reference books on all that makes culinary knowledge. We’re trying to identify and write all is known on edible non-transformed products. The same goes for the history of gourmet restaurants. This is the natural evolution of things: at last the world of gastronomy meets the academic world».

Ferran Adrià and Stefano Baiocco

Ferran Adrià and Stefano Baiocco

The staff at elBulli in a photo from 2007

The staff at elBulli in a photo from 2007

Other details of the future were explained by the chef in his comment to the latest chapter of the Catálogo General de elBulli: «When in 2011 I announced I was to “close elBulli in order to open elBulli" a media uproar followed. Many people thought I would never open again. Instead, 2018 will be the right year, and in a much larger size than what we had imagined. The new elBulli will be a permanent exhibition area, dynamic, which will allow us to create and visualise what we do. The idea is that people will be able to visit the large building in Cala Montjoi while the creative team is working in the various fields. At first, nobody believed in this project. Not even my wife. Even I had doubts at times, but not about the goal, just about the timing. Now everything is very clear. In the new elBulli there will be chefs, psychologists, scientists... We will organise a creative team that will work on efficiency and innovation. How so? Every day we will create and verify. We will experiment... Create and research».

A historic photo, with a young Davide Oldani, in the middle, between Ferran and Albert Adrià. No doubt on the date, it’s written in the bottom right corner: 29th September 1999. See also: Good morning Ferran, my name is Davide Oldani

A historic photo, with a young Davide Oldani, in the middle, between Ferran and Albert Adrià. No doubt on the date, it’s written in the bottom right corner: 29th September 1999. See also: Good morning Ferran, my name is Davide Oldani

Adrià with Paolo Marchi in 2006

Adrià with Paolo Marchi in 2006

And then: «The new elBulli was designed for entrepreneur chefs and creative people. Young people will understand it easily, while it will be harder for adult professionals. Unlearning so as to learn is complicated. You can’t change paradigms from one day to the other. Even I find it hard. Can you learn to create? Well, you can learn to be effective in your creative process. If you ask people what elBulli was, they’ll say it was a restaurant. But it was much more. There are hundreds of projects that were developed with catering, consultancy (18 corporations per time), academic publications, books, videos... A global vision».

Loretta Fanella with Albert and Ferran Adrià

Loretta Fanella with Albert and Ferran Adrià

For Adrià the Catálogo General is the genesis of everything: «I didn’t close the restaurant until I had opened this book. Now everyone can access the necessary information so as to understand what elBulli was. I’d give everything to have a book like this on all the great chefs. It’s not a question of vanity. We wanted people to acknowledge and recognise the work we did. Today, thousands of professionals use ideas from elBulli in their work. I come across references to our work in chefs who don’t know what they’re doing was created at elBulli. I’m very proud of what we’ve made».

Luca Lacalamita with Ferran Adrià

Luca Lacalamita with Ferran Adrià

An old photo of Adrià with Moreno Cedroni

An old photo of Adrià with Moreno Cedroni

Ferran believes there are 500 people only in Spain with a great talent for cooking. He says: «What Jöel Robuchon did in the Eighties can also be found in taverns. Nouvelle cuisine was a revolution that said: "You must think like us". On the contrary, ElBulli, in its revolution, said: “You must think". This was the big difference. We took away bread as a side, and included it as an essential dish. We introduced the use of baby bottles in the kitchen in Europe, or the new use for the syphon, we created spherification, we were the first restaurant in the world to eliminate menus à la carte and just offer a tasting menu, we created a laboratory... I had vertigo all my life. Every day some failure and every day we managed to get back up. We created with extreme creativity, 336 days a year, 15 hours per day. It’s hard to explain. AlbertOriol and I lived for this. I don’t miss cooking. Even in the latest year of elBulli I was doing only three things: eat, think, create. I was even lucky enough that my brother Albert went crazy and opened many restaurants. At elBarri I do the same: I eat and offer a feedback. Albert now does my part and I do his, but my part is his, and his is mine. Rita Soler and her brother Pancho, Juli’s children work with me. Do I miss him? A lot. It’s my only real sadness: that we cannot have him with us».


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