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ON VIEW: elBULLI: FERRAN ADRIÀ AND THE ART OF FOOD

 

 

By Culturekiosque Staff

LONDON, 5 AUGUST 2013 — This summer, London's Somerset House is hosting a major retrospective exhibition on a global icon of gastronomy, Ferran Adrià, and the restaurant he built to become, what some consider, the world’s best, elBulli. In partnership with Estrella Damm, elBulli: Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food is the first exhibition dedicated to a chef and his restaurant.

The retrospective showcases the art of cuisine and cuisine as art by taking a behind-the-scenes look at the legendary laboratory and kitchen of the renowned restaurant, in Cala Montjoi, a small picturesque bay on the Catalan coast near Roses, for over 50 years.

Charting the evolution of elBulli, the exhibition features an in-depth, multimedia display of each of the essential ingredients that make up the culinary creative mastermind of Ferran Adrià and his team: research (handwritten notes and hand-drawn sketches); preparation (plasticine models, which were made for all the dishes served as a means for quality control of colour, portion size and position on the plate, and the specially-designed utensils used); presentation (original tasting menus, cutlery laid on the tables and salivating shots of the creations), and plaudits (original restaurant reviews and other press clippings).

Named after the original owners’ French bulldogs (a breed colloquially known as ‘bulli’), Adrià arrived to the elBulli restaurant on a work experience placement in 1983 during summer leave from his national service with the navy, and joined the payroll as soon as he had completed it in 1984. Within six months, Adrià was appointed co-head chef. Three years later, he was in sole charge of the kitchen and in 1990, Adrià became the co-owner of the restaurant with Juli Soler, the long-serving restaurant manager. With this new-found freedom, the duo set on a mission to modernise elBulli with the mantra of "creativity means not copying". Throwing out the cookery books and recipes which were relied upon in the past, Adrià and his team created new cooking concepts and developed completely original dishes that went beyond taste sensations and merged cuisine with conceptual art.


Francesc Guillamet: The Seeds, 2006

In total, the elBulli team invented 1,846 dishes and in doing so, they led the culinary revolution which has inspired and influenced a generation of chefs including René Redzepi, Joan Roca, Andoni Aduriz, Massimo Bottura and Grant Achatz. Under Adrià’s leadership and creative direction, elBulli was voted the world’s best restaurant five times by Restaurant magazine and the restaurant received over 2 million reservation enquiries for each summer season that it was open.

In 2004, TIME magazine placed Adrià on the cover of its world’s top 100 influential people edition; in 2007 he lent a voice to the Pixar production, Ratatouille, and in 2009, Matt Groening immortalised him as a character in The Simpsons. In 2007, he was also invited to take part in documenta, the contemporary arts exhibition hosted every five years in Kassel, Germany; a momentous occasion in the world of art as it was the first time that the work of a chef and his restaurant had been shown at the same level as the work of a ‘traditional’ artist, such as sculptors or painters. In fact, elBulli was marked pavilion G on the show map.

First seen at Palau Robert, a centre of Catalan culture in Barcelona, elBulli: Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food arrives two years after elBulli closed its doors to the public, following the decision to transform the restaurant into a foundation that, from 2015, will pursue two principal projects. The first project will convert elBulli into an experiential centre, which will allow visitors to imagine and be inspired by the elBulli ethos, and will safeguard its legacy. The second project is Bullipedia, a creative archive that will categorise the body of knowledge of culinary history and make a new coding to give structure to the DNA of cooking.


Ferran Adrià and his Art of Food at Somerset House

Adrià said of the Somerset House show: "Even though the restaurant of elBulli is now closed, the spirit of elBulli is still very much alive and this exhibition is one of the ways of keeping it so. For some, I hope it will revive good memories, and for others it will give a flavour of a fine dining experience like no other. Overall, it is an ode to the creativity, imagination, innovation, talent and teamwork of everyone at elBulli, but especially the world-famous chefs who trained with us and took these values into their own restaurants around the world."

elBulli: Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food
Through 29 September 2013
Somerset House Trust
South Building
Somerset House
Strand
London WC2R 1LA
Tel: (44 ) 20 78 45 46 00
www.somersethouse.org.uk/

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CH - 1000 Lausanne

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