The rumours of a culinary academy or the reopening of the restaurant proved to be unfounded and little by little, a project focused on the pursuit of innovation seemed to emerge from the imagination of the culinary genius Adrià.
However, details have always remained thin on the ground as plans seemed to be constantly evolving, a project in fluid movement rather than laid in stone. The mercurial master of molecular gastronomy has always been difficult to define and his vision for the next iteration of the restaurant that defined modern gastronomy has not been any different. Today, though, we have a clearer picture of what the much anticipated project elBulli1846 will look like and what it will achieve. Here’s what we know about elBulli1846.
What is elBulli1846?
elBulli1846 is an exhibition space and lab dedicated to study, research and experimentation to build knowledge about “both basic and applied efficiency in innovation”. Exhibitions will be used as a working tool, with a “special focus on small and medium-sized enterprises”.
20 years after Adria announced the closure of El Bulli at Madrid Fusión gastronomy conference, the chef returned to the stage in 2020 to present his vision for elBulli1846. “Whoever goes there will come out understanding what innovation is and the processes to innovate not only in cooking but in any human discipline.”
According to Adria, elBulli1846 “is going to be quite a lot of things, but basically an evolution of what El Bulli was, only with an expository part about incredible innovation.”
“The ‘angels’ I am working with are Israel Ruiz, vice president of MIT, Toni Segarra and Vicente Todolí, three great thinkers and we are going to question everything, including what an exhibition is.”
What’s in a name?
The date in the name elBulli1846 is a reference to the birthdate or Auguste Escoffier, the so-called “king of chefs, chef to kings”.
Where will elBulli1846 be?
The centre of innovation elBulli1846 will live on the site of the original El Bulli restaurant in Roses, Cala Montjoi, on Catalonia's Costa Brava. Comprised of different creative spaces there will be a total of 1,500 square metres of indoor space and 3000 square metres of outdoor space. While there will be a permanent exhibition space, there will be other spaces whose use will change over time.
“There will be different spaces apart from the exhibition,” explains Adrià, “a space that will start from the parking lot to raise awareness that we have been innovating throughout our history".
“A part of what is shown will be created by the team in real-time, so it will always be alive and will never be the same. The centre itself, its contents, will be elaborated from within, with each batch of creators that arrive at the centre in the calls that we will open”.
When will elBulli 1846 open?
The centre had originally been slated to open in January, then postponed to February of this year. Adrià now claims they are nearing an opening date in “spring of this year”. “We had a problem with the permits,” said Adrià, “and this is the fourth project that we present to the town hall.”
The undertaking of renovation has proved to be a titanic effort for Adria who said, “It's like turning Camp Nou into a theatre”.
The opening of elBuli1846 will be implemented in two main phases, according to the El Bulli Foundation website. With a ‘soft opening’ from 2020-2021. “This is the necessary period of time calculated for organic growth, enabling the permanent exhibition to be implemented.”
Followed by the ‘Main Project’ from 2022 onwards. “By the year 2022, the project will have begun its own journey and will begin to be visited by the general public. It will be crucial for the teams working there to carry on with their activities as normal and also to manage visits in the same space.”
Will there be a restaurant at elBulli1846?
A renovated dining room and kitchen have been added to the space with room for innovation and creation for a team of 15 or 20 people. “There will be a kitchen and there will be a dining room, but it will not be exactly a restaurant,” said the Spanish chef. “People will eat there, of course, and we will create dishes but it will not be open to the public as before.”
Who can attend the elBulli1846 research programme?
The teams to attend elBulli1846’s research programme will be assembled by open call. The first of which is now open, aimed at “very diverse professional profiles, from those related to the economy and gastronomic restoration, to areas such as philosophy, psychology or graphic design”. The first call is to investigate the ‘Sapiens methodology’ and the 12 people who are selected for this first project, which will take place from August to December 2020, will receive a salary of about 1,700 euros per month.
The Sapiens methodology tries to give a more complete and comprehensive view of the creative processes applied to the field of gastronomy. To create and innovate in gastronomy it is necessary to understand how the elements that constitute it are ordered: What is a product? What is food? What is an ingredient? What is an elaboration?
Get your application in here
Adrià has also announced a new website for the elBulli brand, active on May 1, where people can access different content such as LABulligrafia - a Museum archive with 90,000 scanned objects - which will open in Barcelona in 2022. It will a 6,000 square meter archival museum dedicated to gastronomy. Necessary, according to Adrià, so that people don’t forget his work. Evidently, Adrià is looking ahead to the protection of his legacy. “In 40 years, most people would find it difficult to contextualize what happened in elBulli and in all the Spanish gastronomy,” he said.