A couple weeks ago marked the end of an era: THE final service at El Bulli.
What is considered to be the best restaurant in the world (let that sink in for a second) has finally served it’s last plate and closed it’s doors. The world famous restaurant located a couple hours outside Barcelona will be transformed into a think-tank/laboratory for the culinary minds where new flavors and new food experiences will be discovered through the brilliant mind of Chef Ferran Adria. It’s called the El Bulli Foundation.
From what I heard through reading articles, watching interviews, seeing the documentary “El Bulli: Cooking in Progress“, and speaking to a friend who was a stagiaire at El Bulli, the 30-50 course meal is an emotional and magical journey through food. The way a meal is described here, can only lead me to believe people have certainly left crying of joy, feeling like a new person, and of course speechless. I always said the word “delicious” is not used enough. It’s obvious this experience is far beyond that, and then some. Chef Ferran Adria manipulates food in a manner that can’t be described. Some can argue he uses molecular gastronomy to create his dishes, but he argues it’s not that at all. It’s about manipulating familiar flavors, textures, and visual appearance to create something, well, different. “At El Bulli, they create food far beyond what the rest of the world is doing”, said chef Jeff Finkelstein of the private bakery Hof Kelsten here in Montreal. Jeff was one of 40 selected chefs from an international pool of 3000 applicants, where he had been trying for 4 years prior to get in and finally did in 2008 (keep in mind this is for an unpaid position!). “When people were doing foams, gelatins, and spherification, for example, El Bulli was doing it years before. They’re the best for a reason”. He went on to tell me that the main secret to their success is their ‘creative process’ in the kitchen and their intense documention every move they make.
As a lover of all things food, my deepest regret is never eating there. It’s not like Spain is around the corner, so getting there would have to be carefully planned, but I would have done it. And now that I know I’ll never eat there, I certainly don’t feel good about it. It was almost painful reading the tweets from Chef José Andrés during the last service. The pictures and videos conveying the emotions celebrations at the end were mesmerizing.
This is not just another restaurant. It’s an establishment that’s shaped the way we view and experience food in way only a select few in world have ever experienced. This really is the end of an era. No one will ever eat at El Bulli again, and that is a sad thought. As they say, all good things must come to an end.