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El Bulli restaurant closes its doors

El Bulli restaurant has been called the best restaurant in the world, but now it closes its doors to make way for a reincarnation in the form of a foundation.

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"For me the spirit of this place has always been its freedom," said Redzepi, adding that "the courage and bravery" with which they work in his Noma restaurant "came from here. It was like finding a treasure."

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Four of the world's top five chefs trained at the center, which takes is named from a pet bulldog owned by the German couple who first established a restaurant in the idyllic Cala Montjoi cove back in the late 1950s.

"I thought that I knew cooking," said Achatz, who now runs two restaurants, Alinea and Next, both considered among the leading lights in molecular gastronomy in the U.S.

"When I arrived here and walked into the kitchen for the first time (12 years ago) I felt I was on another planet."

Achatz, like others, highlighted Adria's daring and insistence on constantly breaking new ground.

"When I came here, cuisine in America was very stale. Everyone was following each other. So to see someone taking risks, expressing themselves through real food — it lights a fire."

Back in the U.S., he said, "It was very exciting to watch that seed grow and watch it spread over the country."

At 49, Adria said he and his crew need to replenish their inspiration to come up with something new.

"There comes a time for change in everything so that we can maintain creativity," he said. He added that the foundation "will create every day" and present its findings free to the world online.

Last year, Adria acknowledged that El Bulli was struggling financially, but on Saturday he flatly denied to The Associated Press that it was closing for financial reasons.

His biographer Colman Andrews said that while the restaurant may have lost money, Adria made substantial amounts through books, conferences and side businesses that depended on his name and that of the restaurant.

Besides functioning as a think-tank and laboratory with the best chefs and food experts from around the world, Adria said the new establishment would be open for visits to everyone, from multinational executives to school kids. He said it would also be organizing benefit meals for charities and NGOs.

Although the premises may be closing to the public, Adria said he would not be stopping.

"With things as they are, with the economic crisis, it would be a total lack of respect for me to take holidays," he said.

Adria's immediate plans are to travel, spreading the Bulli word with trips to China, Peru and the United States, where he will give classes at Harvard. He said serious work on the foundation will begin next January although he hopes to make an important announcement Oct. 4 in Madrid.

At the news conference, Adria was presented with a giant-sized white nougat sculpture of a bulldog, in memory of the "bulli" — a local Catalan word — that inspired a name that is now legendary in the culinary firmament.


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