With the proliferation of celebrity chefs and colossally hyped restaurants, modern diners have a lot on their plates. Here, we talk to a top toque on the verge of second-chance stardom, learn what Parisians like to have for dessert, and generally find out what's on the menu in 2013.
By Adam Baer
When the reputed best restaurant in the world closed in 2011, the response from the food press was suitably plaintive. El Bulli, the three-Michelin-star eatery on Catalonia’s Costa Brava where chef Ferran Adrià had pioneered modern haute cuisine, was open only in late summer and fall, charged over $300 a meal and never accommodated more than about 8,000 diners a year despite receiving 2 million reservation requests. Upon the restaurant’s closing, Adrià’s apprentices (including Spanish modern master José Andrés) spread its philosophy around the world, but the consensus was that the true spirit of El Bulli was gone for good.
Or was it? While El Bulli isn’t reopening in a traditional sense, it will reenter the popular consciousness when a film adaptation of Lisa Abend’s book about Adrià’s apprenticeship program, The Sorcerer’s Apprentices, comes out (it’s slated to begin production this year). Meanwhile, the restaurant will provide the launchpad for the El Bulli Foundation, an eco-friendly research center designed to house El Bulli’s treasure trove of information about the culinary arts. The foundation’s first project will be BulliPedia, an encyclopedia of gastronomy, created in collaboration with the University of Barcelona.
“The El Bulli Foundation was born to protect the legacy of El Bulli—the physical space and the documentation—and for this the building will be transformed into a permanent exhibition with a visitors tour,” says Adrià. “BulliPedia aims to help cooks worldwide by organizing our knowledge of cooking’s history, and the university will disseminate this information to cooking schools worldwide.”
As for whether the foundation will serve food, Adrià says only this: “In some cases, people who do creative work will be invited to eat for research, and private dinners may occur in time.”
Good luck with that reservation.