Ferran Adrià: 'elBulli Isn't Closed'

Adrià talks about the Foundation, the Bullipedia, and more, and says he's busier than ever

Sifu Renka
Ferran Adrià

A work table back in the kitchen, which I had last seen covered with vegetables destined for a Taller version of the "family meal," back before elBulli had closed, was now chockablock with printouts of sample Bullipedia pages, showing the entry for Espárragos Blancos — white asparagus. There were entries on its botany, history, appearance, and flavor characteristics, and instructions for its basic preparation. "Then we will add all the elBulli recipes that have ever used white asparagus, then all the other Spanish and French recipes from 1965 onwards. We will do this with everything. Earlier recipes, Escoffier and so on, will come later. In the future, we will include other cuisines, Mexican, Italian, Chinese… Bullipedia is the fruit of the Foundation, the work of the Foundation."

And the Foundation itself? Construction on new buildings that will surround the old elBulli at Cala Montjoi, designed by avant-garde Catalan architect Enric Ruiz-Geli, will begin either this September or in March of 2013, says Ferran. "We are awaiting permits from the city of Roses," he explains, adding, "A lot of the work is being done beforehand, so it will go fast." He and his crew will start working at the site in March of 2014, and the first season will run from November through June of the following year. "The idea is to have eight-month sessions," he says, "and then have four months off to clean out our heads." And, no, he still hasn't crystallized his ideas for serving food at Cala Montjoi, though he repeats, as he has always said, that there will certainly be food served, at least part of the time, at least to somebody.

Ferran has always said that he has to keep making food, because "I am a cook." Now he tells me, "People say, 'Ferran, it's a shame, you never cook anymore.' It's true that I have done very little cooking in public since the restaurant closed. But…" — he taps his head — "I cook in here. I cook intellectually."

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I bought The Family Meal with great expectations, managed to cook a dozen different meals from its pages, but oddly haven't touched it now for months. I thought that the book was extremely well organized, a literal 'mis en place 'I'd make this again!' moments.

I'm usually looking for magic in my meals each night, and arguably, it doesnt happen every time, and from a book by Ferran Adria, one would hope for at least a few hits.

Finally, let me assert that I am a big fan of his and admire his success and the passion he brings to cooking--plus the fact that he refers to himself as a 'cook' rather than the lofty chef nom de Guere.

Not surprised to see that he's still active despite el bulli shutting down. My wife and I plan to spend a year in Spain in a few years as a pre-retirement thing and would love to get into any restaurant of his located locally!

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