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El Bulli: movie review

'El Bulli' takes us behind the scenes of the world’s most sought-after restaurant, which closed its doors in July.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / September 30, 2011

(L. to r.) Eduard Xatruch, Oriol Castro, and Ferran Adrià in ‘El Bulli,’ a film about the three chefs.

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Perhaps, unlike myself, you have dined at the famous three-star Michelin restaurant El Bulli, near the town of Roses in the Catalonian region of Spain, which officially closed its doors at the end of July. If so, you would be in a distinct minority: Two million people applied annually for 8,000 places at the table.

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The documentary "El Bulli: Cooking in Progress," directed by Gereon Wetzel, was shot in 2008-09 and shows how the restaurant's 49-year-old chef and owner, Ferran Adrià, with his team of head chefs, spent six months out of every year trying out dishes in his test kitchen in Barcelona before decamping to El Bulli from July to December.

The dishes are all examples of what is called molecular gastronomy, which means that what the favored few end up eating is more like essence of food than food itself. Adrià and his cowering colleagues are big on vacuumizing, freeze-drying, and titrating. Liquid nitrogen is freely applied.

I am not a fan of food you need a microscope to see, but if your idea of fine dining is pumpkin meringue sandwiches, bone marrow tartare with oysters, tea shrimp with caviar anemones, and ice vinaigrette with tangerines and green olive, then by all means make haste to "El Bulli." Grade: B+ (Unrated.)

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