Only the very, very luckiest of eaters will ever be able to say they dined at Spain’s renowned elBulli restaurant, especially since it just closed on July 30th. But you will be able to see what goes on behind the scenes in a new documentary, “elBulli: Cooking in Progress.” The documentary will be an exploration of how this avant-garde restaurant came up with such insane food creations. Have you ever heard of a Parmesan crystal, or a “vaccumized” mushroom? German filmmaker Gereon Wetzel worked meticulously on his documentary over 15 months in 2008 and 2009. He had no idea when he shot the film that it would be closing, but now at least it will be on film for food lovers everywhere, showcasing the edible art of elBulli.
The 38-year-old director spent most of the shooting time at the “lab,” not the restaurant. It was in the lab where chefs spent six months experimenting and developing dishes for the six months that the restaurant was open each year. Chefs from elBulli would go to markets and just ask for the tongues of fish, or the cartilage of a calf shoulder, hoping they would come up with something new and awe-inspiring for a new menu.
Co-owner and chef Ferran Adria earned three Michelin stars and countless other honors for elBulli. The chef cited financial struggles and a need to regroup after years of exhausting work and research as the reason for closing. Many people mourn the closing with its 30 to 50-course meals, each course being a passionate work of art, and taking from three to five hours to eat, for only fifty lucky diners. And I thought a tasting menu with 8 courses was overload!
Now please excuse me while I go make dinner – meatloaf sans the calf cartilage.