The end of last month saw the release of the first book to look behind the scenes at the legendary Spanish restaurant El Bulli. Carina Simon finds out what its owner and author Ferran Adria (pictured, right) has to say about it.
There aren’t many restaurants that could spin out the story of their typical day to 527 pages worth of pictures, words and philosophical statements but then again there aren’t many restaurants like El Bulli.
The publicity ratcheted up for the restaurant over the past few years has been phenomenal, aided of course by the restaurant winning Restaurant’s S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants back in 2002 and then consecutively in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
However, although many people talk about the restaurant, few do so with first hand knowledge as the two million who try to get one of the 8,000 covers available over the two season year will testify.
Adria says the book is necessary because, “People speak a lot about El Bulli but they don’t really know that much about it. There weren’t any books that told the day to day story of the restaurant, especially for people who don’t belong to this world. I think El Bulli needs to be communicated and will appeal to an architect or a designer, anyone who is interested in creativity but who wouldn’t buy a recipe book.”
The book was two years in the making and at the beginning they had so much data, including 25,000 photos, that Adria admits he didn’t know how he was going to put the information together. The result is “very personal” and literally counts down from sunrise at 6.05am to ‘curtain down’ at 2am. Pictorially led, the story is littered with Adriaisms such as “ambition without patience is a dangerous thing” and “creativity means not copying”. There are also recipes in there for the truly ambitious, alongside technical explanations, some history, staff notes (including photos and a menu of a week’s worth of staffs dinners). In fact it runs through the day in such detail you could almost have eaten there.
However, lovers of the Bulli and of the great coffee table book should note that this won’t be the last book Adria produces. “It will definitely be the ground stone for another book” reveals the great creator.
And who knows what the future will hold for the restaurant itself. It has just changed its seasons from spring to summer to summer to autumn to allow Adria to experiment with different seasonal ingredients. He also says, in a typically mysterious fashion, “this year there’s been a change in the vision of El Bulli, we’re not sure how to explain this yet and it might take two or three years to consolidate the change. The Spanish people who know El Bulli well can’t explain it and I can’t either.”
A Day at El Bulli: an insight into the ideas, methods and creativity of Ferran Adria by Ferran Adria, Juli Soler, Albert Adria is published by Phaidon, www.phaidon.com for £29.95.