Ferran Adria brings elBulli exhibition to London
FILE - In this Dec. 5, 2003 file photo, Spanish chef Ferran Adria examines ingredients in his kitchen workshop in Barcelona, Spain. Spanish chef Ferran Adria, the man behind the late, lamented elBulli restaurant, is bringing an exhibition dedicated to the art and science of his experimental brand of cooking to London. The show, which was visited by 650,000 people during a year-long run in Barcelona, will be on display from July 5 to Sept. 29, 2013 at London's Somerset House. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)
LONDON (AP) — You've eaten at the restaurant — or probably you haven't. Now visit the exhibition.
Spanish chef Ferran Adria, the man behind the late, lamented elBulli restaurant, is bringing an exhibition dedicated to the art and science of his distinctive brand of molecular gastronomy to London.
Diners lucky enough to get reservations at elBulli before it closed two years ago feasted on 50-course tasting menus featuring frozen cocktails, ham tapioca, lobster and lamb's brain salad and many other challenging creations.
Visitors to "elBulli: Ferran Adria and the Art of Food" will see sketches, menus, film, photographs and even plasticine models of food, showing how those memorable menus were created. Just don't expect to eat.
"If you go to the Barcelona football team museum, you don't play football," Adria said unapologetically Thursday as he announced the London show. "If you go to an airplane museum, you don't fly a plane."
The hunger-inducing nature of the exhibition didn't prevent 650,000 people visiting it over the course of a year at Barcelona's Palau Robert.
In London, it will be on display from July 5 to Sept. 29 at Somerset House, a palatial 18th-century edifice beside the River Thames that has been transformed over the last decade from dusty tax office to busy arts and cultural center.
The exhibition is the latest stage in the expanding afterlife of elBulli, which closed its doors in July 2011 after a final meal that included "Clam Meringue," ''Olive Spheres" and "Hot Cold Gin Fizz."
Adria, who started at elBulli in 1984 and became head chef three years later, used the restaurant to explore his fascination with the essence of food and the experience of eating.
In the restaurant's kitchen and a scientific lab in Barcelona, he and his team deconstructed ingredients to what he calls the molecular level, then reconstructed dishes using unexpected re-combinations of the original components, presenting the results in mouthful-sized portions.
"For every 100 dishes we created, one was brilliant," said Adria, a compact, energetic 50-year-old in gray jeans, black jacket and sneakers, who proves incapable of remaining seated as he discusses his work with journalists.
The restaurant, tucked in a cove on the rocky coast of northeast Spain, maintained a three-star Michelin rating for more than a decade and was ranked the world's best place to eat five years running by Restaurant magazine.
It also made Adria — part celebrity chef, part twinkling mad scientist — one of the food world's most famous figures. He voiced a character in the Spanish version of Pixar's animated film "Ratatouille," and made an appearance in "The Simpsons."
Molecular gastronomy has inspired chefs from Britain's Heston Blumenthal to Chicago's Grant Achatz and Denmark's Rene Redzepi. Some of its signature touches — foams, jellies, liquid nitrogen — have almost become culinary cliches.
"Everybody agrees that there is a before and an after in gastronomy, thanks to Ferran," said Ignasi Genoves, general director of Palau Robert.