elBulli at Somerset House – A vision lives on

elBulli at Somerset House

No, this not a pop-up event where elBulli creations can be tasted. The restaurant itself, nominated as the world’s best restaurant for numerous years closed in 2011. Alumni of elBulli include Rene Redzepi (Noma, Copenhagen), Grant Achatz (Alinea, Chicago) and Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugaritz, San Sebastian). This is an exhibition at Somerset House about the restaurant’s history and philosophy on display from 5 July to 29 September.

Kicking off the exhibition Ferran Adria, the man behind the legendary status of elBulli shared his philosophy of food and introduced his current projects after the closure of the restaurant. Big ideas were vented about the ambitions of systematic classification of food and the launch of elBulli Foundation to continue the work of innovation that elevated elBulli into world fame. Prominent people related to gastronomy will be selected for the Foundation to purely focus on research and development. The output of elBulli Foundation will not be actual food but concepts to be shared with the culinary world. Bullipedia is another project that according to Ferran will be the biggest challenge. Not much was revealed other than it will be a new way to search for recipes and food information. It was interesting to hear about the ambition to foster the creativity necessary to push the boundaries of what is possible with food. On the other hand I’m wondering whether the results will remain accessible only for the privileged. After all, how many people have eaten at elBulli? Maybe that will be the difference between the restaurant and foundation.

The exhibition itself revealed the modest background of the original elBulli and how it grew into one of the drivers of nouvelle cuisine in our time. Although I’ve never been to elBulli I could get a glimpse of what was behind the 35 course tasting menu offered every season while it was still operating.

It’s unique to see an exhibition solely dedicated to a restaurant. The restaurant might be closed but if we believe Ferran it’s the beginning of something even greater.

Ferran Adria
Ferran Adria talking about the elBulli DNA.

elBulli at Somerset House

elBulli at Somerset House
Full scale model of the 40 kg edible meringue bulldog made by Christian Escribà for the last meal served at elBulli.

elBulli at Somerset House
Display of all dishes served at elBulli

elBulli at Somerset House
The transformation of the elBulli site into an exhibition space.

elBulli at Somerset House
Tableware designed in-house.

For more photos from the elBulli exhibition, please visit my Flickr set.

Somerset House
Embankment Galleries West, South Wing
London, WC2R 1LA

Tel. +44 (0)20 7845 4600

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