El Bulli

Coordinates: 42°15′00″N 003°13′35″E / 42.25000°N 3.22639°E / 42.25000; 3.22639
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El Bulli
The restaurant, seen from above
Restaurant information
Established1964 (60 years ago) (1964)
Closed30 July 2011 (12 years ago) (2011-07-30)
Head chefFerran Adrià
Rating3 Michelin stars (Michelin Guide)
Coordinates42°15′00″N 003°13′35″E / 42.25000°N 3.22639°E / 42.25000; 3.22639

El Bulli (Catalan pronunciation: [əl ˈβuʎi]) was a restaurant near the town of Roses, Spain, run by chef Ferran Adrià, later joined by Albert Adrià, and renowned for its modernist cuisine. Established in 1964, the restaurant overlooked Cala Montjoi, a bay on the Costa Brava of Catalonia. El Bulli held three Michelin stars and was described as "the most imaginative generator of haute cuisine on the planet" in 2006.[1] The restaurant closed 30 July 2011 and relaunched as El Bulli Foundation, a center for culinary creativity.[2][3]


The restaurant had a limited season: the PIXA season, for example, ran from 15 June to 20 December.[4] Bookings for the next year were taken on a single day after the closing of the current season. It accommodated only 8,000 diners a season, but got more than two million requests. The average cost of a meal was €250 (US$325).[5] The restaurant itself had operated at a loss since 2000, with operating profit coming from El Bulli-related books and lectures by Adrià.[1][6] As of April 2008, the restaurant employed 42 chefs.[7]

Restaurant magazine judged El Bulli to be No. 1 on its Top 50 list of the world's best restaurants for a record five times—in 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, and No. 2 in 2010.[7][8][9]


Front entrance of El Bulli
Front entrance
Rear entrance of El Bulli
Rear entrance

The restaurant's location was selected in 1961 by Hans Schilling, a German, and his Czech wife Marketa, who wanted a piece of land for a planned holiday resort.[10] By the year 1963, the resulting holiday resort included a small makeshift bar of the type known in Spanish as a "chiringuito", which bar was variously called "El Bulli-bar" and "Hacienda El Bulli"; this little bar was the nucleus of the future restaurant El Bulli. The name "El Bulli" came from a colloquial term used to describe the French bulldogs the Schillings owned.[11] The first restaurant was opened in 1964.

The restaurant won its first Michelin star in 1976 while under French chef Jean-Louis Neichel.[10] Ferran Adrià joined the staff in 1984, and was put in sole charge of the kitchen in 1987. In 1990 the restaurant gained its second Michelin star,[10] and in 1997 its third.[10]

El Bulli has published books on its development, menu and philosophy since 1993,[12] in both large format, some including CD-ROMs, and small format for supermarket sales.[1] Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler, and Albert Adrià published A Day at El Bulli in 2008. The book describes 24 hours in the life of El Bulli in pictures, commentary and recipes. Among the recipes included in the book are melon with ham, pine-nut marshmallows, steamed brioche with rose-scented mozzarella, rock mussels with seaweed and fresh herbs, and passion fruit trees.

Chef and writer Anthony Bourdain described Albert Adrià's contributions thus: "His book is a shockingly beautiful catalog of his latest accomplishments here ... Pastry chefs everywhere—when they see this—will gape in fear, and awe, and wonder. I feel for them; like Eric Clapton seeing Jimi Hendrix for the first time, one imagines they will ask themselves 'What do I do now?'."[13]

Commercial products[edit]

The kitchen at El Bulli

Texturas is a range of products by brothers Ferran and Albert Adrià. The products include the Sferificación, Gelificación, Emulsificación, Espesantes and Surprises lines and are the result of a rigorous process of selection and experimentation. Texturas includes products such as Xanthan and Algin which are packaged and labeled as Xantana Texturas and Algin Texturas respectively.[14]

Xanthan gum allows the user to use a very small amount to thicken soups, sauces and creams without changing the flavour. Algin is a key component of the "Spherification Kit" and is essential for every spherical preparation: caviar, raviolis, balloons, gnocchi, pellets, and mini-spheres.[15]


In 2010, Ferran Adrià announced he would close El Bulli in 2012, due to the massive monetary loss it was incurring. He was quoted by The New York Times as planning to replace it with a culinary academy.[16] He later denied the announcement, saying that The New York Times had misquoted him, and stated that El Bulli would reopen in 2014 after a two-year hiatus, as "initially planned"[17] and would still serve food.[18] Adrià later confirmed, in an October 2010 Vanity Fair article, that the restaurant would be closing permanently after July 2011.[11]

In 2011, their website stated: "On July 30th 2011 El Bulli will have completed its journey as a restaurant. We will transform into a creativity center, opening in 2014. Its main objective is to be a think-tank for creative cuisine and gastronomy and will be managed by a private foundation."[19] Bourdain interpreted the goal of the new El Bulli Foundation to be an elite culinary and dining experience development workshop, hosting not only chefs but "architects, philosophers, [and] designers", and allowing them to "not just share [their] successes, but to share [their] mistakes or [their] process with the world as it's happening" by providing a forum to explore such concepts as "do we need a dining room?"[20] In 2021, The Observer named the closure of El Bulli as one of the 20 "key moments in food" of the prior 20 years.[21]


El Bulli: Cooking in Progress is a documentary about the restaurant highlighting the iterative creative process that occurred behind the scenes. Directed by Gereon Wetzel, the film follows the creative team led by Ferran Adrià through the whole 2008–2009 season. It premiered at the 2010 International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.[22]

Somerset House[edit]

In July 2013, Somerset House in London hosted an exhibition dedicated to the food of Ferran Adrià and El Bulli. The exhibition looked back over the evolution of the restaurant's laboratory and kitchen.[23] Multimedia displays examined the methods behind the creation of signature dishes and original sketches and hand written notes of the recipe creations were on display with plasticine models of the dishes that were served.[24]


  1. ^ a b c Carlin, John (11 December 2006). If the world's greatest chef cooked for a living, he'd starve, John Carlin, The Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  2. ^ "history". elbulli.com. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  3. ^ "El Bulli, 'world's best restaurant', closes". BBC News. 30 July 2011.
  4. ^ Season 2010 Archived 29 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine (reservations). ElBulli.com, 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  5. ^ "Kochrevolutionär sucht neue Inspiration" (in German). Frankfurter Rundschau Online. 27 January 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010. (EN translation). For 2010 price.
  6. ^ Gould, Kevin (3 February 2007). Who's for a Bulli burger?. The Guardian. Retrieved 3 February 2007.
  7. ^ a b "World's 50 best restaurants". Restaurant. 21 April 2008. Archived from the original on 16 April 2008. Retrieved 21 April 2008.
  8. ^ Matthew, Jukes (26 October 2002). "Bulli for us". The Guardian. UK. Archived from the original (review) on 30 September 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  9. ^ Fleming, Amy; Smithers, Rebecca (21 April 2009). "Gordon Ramsay off the menu as San Pellegrino's best restaurants are chosen". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 21 April 2009.
  10. ^ a b c d "History of El Bulli". ElBulli.com. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  11. ^ a b McInerney, Jay (Oct 2010). ""It Was Delicious While It Lasted", Vanity Fair Magazine". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  12. ^ elBullibooks – Recopilación de información sobre los libros publicados por elBulli Archived 10 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine (catalog). El Bulli. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  13. ^ "Spain". Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Season 4. Episode 17. 18 August 2008. ~20 minutes in. Travel Channel.
  14. ^ "Xantana Texturas – Texturas – Albert & Ferran Adria (El Bulli)". BienManger.com. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  15. ^ "Algin Texturas – Texturas – Albert & Ferran Adria (El Bulli)". BienManger.com. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  16. ^ Ferren, Andrew (12 February 2010). "El Bulli to close permanently". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  17. ^ Guide Girl (15 February 2010). "Ferran Adrià denies reports that El Bulli will close permanently". Guide Girl blog. Caterer Search.com. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
  18. ^ Hanly, Catherine, ed. (22 February 2010). El Bulli will still serve meals when it reopens in 2014 Archived 10 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine. http://www.hot-dinners.com Hot Dinners]. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  19. ^ Notice on El Bulli's website. Archived April 2011.
  20. ^ "El Bulli". Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Season 7. Episode 12. 1 August 2011. Travel Channel.
  21. ^ "20 years of Observer Food Monthly: 20 key moments in food". the Guardian. 2021-04-18. Retrieved 2021-04-18.
  22. ^ "El Bulli – Cooking in Progress". IDFA. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  23. ^ "elBulli: Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food". Somerset House. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  24. ^ "El Bulli the Exhibition..." Styl.sh. Retrieved 30 August 2013.


External links[edit]