ElBulli, the beachside Spanish restaurant repeatedly crowned the world’s best, closed on Saturday after pushing the boundaries of cuisine for more than two decades under chef Ferran Adria.
The remote eatery in Cala Montjoi, about two hours north of Barcelona, will reopen in 2014 as a non-profit culinary think tank that will investigate new cooking techniques and develop new flavors.
The elBulli Foundation plans to grant between 20 and 25 scholarships annually for chefs to spend a year working with elBulli’s core staff. It will share its ideas and findings on the Internet.
Adria, whose radical innovations since he became the head chef at elBulli in 1987 include foie grass noodles and potato foam, says he is dispensing with the Michelin three-star restaurant to spend more time being creative.
“ElBulli is not closing, it is transforming itself, because its soul is going to remain,” he told a group of students in Valencia earlier last month.
Under Adria, the eatery, known as El Bulli with a capital “E” until 2008, has never been a commercial restaurant in the strictest sense.
Shortly after becoming head chef, Adria decided to open the restaurant for just half the year to give staff time to develop his trailblazing approach to cooking, which uses hi-tech methods to “deconstruct” and rebuild ingredients in surprising ways.
In 2001, just as El Bulli was becoming well known, he decided to close the eatery for lunch to give staff even more time to be creative in the kitchen.
The 50-seat restaurant fields more than two million requests a year for its roughly 8,000 sittings, with tables mostly allotted by form of lottery.
Dinner is a degustation menu of some 40 small dishes and it costs around 250 euros (NT$10,300) per head.
1. dispense with v. phr.
不拘泥 (bu4 ju1 ni4)
例: The company is dispensing with the compulsory requirement that all employees must pass the test.
2. trailblazing adj.
有新意的 (you3 xin1 yi4 de5)
例: She formulated several trailblazing techniques.
3. eatery n.
餐廳 (can1 ting1)
例:The eatery is so popular in the area that people usually have to wait at least an hour before getting a table.
The final dinner on Saturday night was served to longtime staff members of the restaurant and their families.