El Bulli: Cooking in Progress

Each year the famous Spanish chef Ferran Adria closes his restaurant El Bulli for six months in order to develop and prepare with his team the menu for the next year.  A demanding man, as most talented, passionate people are, Adria really expects much of his staff, most of all his right hand man Oriol Castro, who has been with him 14 years.  At one poin the tells one of the chefs “It is simply bad.  Don’t give me something that isn’t good”.  Harsh stuff.  T

he food they create is art.  They experiment with colour, taste and texture to create something that will be an experience for those who come to the restaurant.  Every detail is thought about, agonized over and then finally decided upon by Adria.  Every step in the process is written down, photographed and then catalogued on a computer.

El Bulli was situated in Spain on the Catalonian Costa Brava.  A smallish place at a mere 50 seats the restaurant was classified as a 3-Michelin-star establishment.  Open only 6 months a year it would serve its patrons 30 odd dishes over a 3 hour dining experience.  The tasting menu was prepared in a meticulous manner by a 40 chef kitchen and would cost around $345 per person.  For the 8,000 spots they had available each year their were millions of demands.  Unfortunately for those who never got to sample its food, El Bulli closed in July 2011.

The documentary really shows us in detail every moment in the creation of this food as avant garde art.  It really is a minimalist film in its approach.  There is no narration or even interviews, just a fly on the wall approach that I’m sure will keep foodies glued to the screen.  For the rest of us just average food enthusiasts it is a little slow.  Even the score is fairly sparse.  They are very serious about what they do and there is very little drama in this kitchen as opposed to what Gordon Ramsey would have you believe.  It is all about work and the idea of turning what is thought of as haute cuisine on its head.

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