It is very difficult to be innovative at the highest level in any discipline. For some chefs, it’s simply a matter of combining ingredients, but that’s something you can do with your eyes closed.
Ferran Adrià Acosta, born in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain, attends the local Casal dels Àngels School and then goes to San Isidro School in Barcelona, while living with his parents, Ginés, a plasterer, and Josefa, a housewife, and his brother Albert. His passion is football, and he plays with the Juventud de l’Hospitalet club until 1974 and with Santa Eulàlia F.C. until 1980. At this moment he has almost no interest in cooking, typical of a boy of his age.
In 1977 he enters Instituto Politécnico de la Merced to take administrative studies, as a prelude to a degree in Business Studies.
In 1980, he decides to give up his studies, preferring to make some money so that he can go on holiday to Ibiza. With this aim, by chance he begins his culinary career modestly, going to work as a dishwasher at the Playafels Hotel in Castelldefels, near L’Hospitalet.
There, chef Miquel Moy, a close friend of his father, helps him to become familiar with basic culinary techniques. A few months later, in 1981, he starts work at the Club Cala Leña, in Es Canà, Ibiza. After four months, he returns to Barcelona, performing varied tasks in establishments such as El Suquet, Castell Arnau and Martinique. In 1982 he finds a job in the prestigious Finisterre restaurant, staying there until he leaves to do military service, on July 2nd, 1982.
From mid-1982 until the end of 1983, Ferran does his military service in Cartagena, forming part of the team working in the Admiral’s kitchen. Here, for the first time, he takes charge of the kitchen. Assuming such responsibilities serves as an important experience for him. Following a suggestion from Fermí Puig, another Catalan recruit, who works at elBulli, Ferran spends his month’s leave in the summer of 1983 at the restaurant in Cala Montjoi. At the end of this 4-week stage, and in view of the positive experience, Ferran decides to join the team at the end of his military service.
At the end of his military service, he works at the San Marcos restaurant in Seville from January to March 1984. Then, in April 1984, he joins the team of elBulli occupying the position of Chef de Partie, On November 1st, following the departure of Head Chef, Jean-Paul Vinay, Juli Soler, elBulli’s Director, offers Ferran and Christian Lutaud the position of joint Head Chefs. Juli Soler encourages Ferran to travel around France and learn more about the world of Haute Cuisine. Ferran undertakes two stages in the kitchens of Georges Blanc and Jacques Pic. In October 1986, Christian Lutaud leaves elBulli and Ferran assumes sole responsibility.
From 1987 Ferran decides to pursue his own ideas in the kitchen, leaving aside the Nouvelle Cuisine style of the restaurant. He begins by using ingredients, techniques, and local and regional elaborations, interpreting them through his vision of Haute Cuisine. Up until 1993 this “Mediterranean style” defines the cuisine of elBulli and exerts an important influence on the Catalan and Spanish cuisine of this period.
In 1990 elBulli S.L. is created, a company founded by Juli Soler and Ferran Adrià, developing different lines and models of business.
elBulli S.L. reinvests 20% of its turnover in pursuing creativity. elBullirestaurante functions as the R & D department of a company that manages consultancy and assessment for catering companies and the food industry, whilst always placing its commitment to avant-garde cuisine as its foremost concern. This model enables the radical nature of elBulli to be maintained.
In the early 90s a change in the cooking of Ferran and elBullirestaurante begins to take place, and a series of new concepts, elaborations, techniques and service formats appear alongside the “Mediterranean” dishes, reaching their full expression in 1994. From that time on, a series of constants characterises the style of elBulli, outlined in the 23-point synthesis of elBulli’s cooking.
At the end of 1987 Ferran and Juli decide to make an organisational change, dividing the restaurant season into two parts: six months of restaurant service and six months of closure.
Throughout the 90s, the team seek a successful formula for creating a workshop during the six months of restaurant closure, and after trying several locations, elBullitaller is opened in 2000, in Carrer Portaferrissa, Barcelona, becoming the first in the history of haute cuisine. Developing this blueprint, a model of creativity is established that is perfected little by little. In place of creating a dish based on an idea, hundreds of ideas for concepts, techniques and elaborations are introduced during the closed season in elBullitaller, which lead to finished recipes and menus in elBullirestaurante. At the same time all the variables and resources of the process are subjected to a creative audit offering a high level of efficiency and effectiveness, which is key to determining elBulli’s creative longevity.
Ferran marries Isabel Pérez in 2002. They do not have any children.
elBullirestaurante closes its doors to become elBullifoundation.
Very sad news is announced in October 2012 communicating that Juli Soler is suffering from a neurodegenerative disease. This represents a most delicate moment during the transformation process of elBulli, delivering a blow for his family, the elBulli team, and the gastronomy sector as a whole, in which he is a reference.
This leads to a remodelling of the entire project, which had grown out of the Soler-Adrià partnership. From this moment, and without the inestimable help of Juli, Ferran tackles assessment, consulting and image projects alone. At the same time, elBullifoundation launches projects on knowledge and innovation.
The legacy of Juli, whose spirit encompasses all the actions of elBullifoundation, is maintained through the incorporation of his children, Rita and Panxo, as pillars of the Foundation.
elBullifoundation is created, a private family-run foundation promoted by Ferran Adrià and Juli Soler.
* For more information about projects undertaken by elBullifoundation, consult elbullifoundation.com
The Galaxy is the business model of Juli Soler, Ferran Adrià and Albert Adrià concerning elBullirestaurante. In 1998, a key decision was taken as to how the business model should be, making a conceptual change based on the following premise: keeping elBullirestaurante at the cutting-edge. To give us the necessary freedom to do this, a business model for elBullirestaurante was created, based on consultancy and image work, and the formation of our own business lines.
1997 – Collaboration with the creative team of Chocovic in ventures related to chocolate.
1999 – R & D, and creation of vinaigrettes, sauces and aromatic olive oils in partnership with Borges
2000 – Study and creation of soups and dairy products for Kaiku, together with Juan Mari Arzak, Karlos Arguiñano and Pedro Subijana.
2001 – Collaboration with Caprabo in several publishing and consultancy projects.
2002 – Collaboration with Lavazza, for the creation of products and concepts related to coffee.
2004 – Innovations in the world of cocktails, with Diageo
2005 – Texturas, a line of products selected by elBullitaller, to bring new elaborations to the kitchen.
2005 – Working on new creations in chocolate with the architect Jean Nouvel and the team of Cailler, a company in the Nestlé group.
2005 – A new range of potato crisps, and other ideas for aperitif concepts in collaboration with the R & D department of Frito Lays, of the Pepsico company.
2007 – R & D in fruit juices and cookies, with United Biscuits.
2008 – Creation of Inedit, in collaboration with the team of Damm master brewers. A ground-breaking new line of beer that, for its elegance and ability to accompany the great variety of flavours existing in modern gastronomy, offers an alternative to wine.
1986 – ElBulli Bistrot opens in the Pasarela nightclub in Empuriabrava (Roses).
1989 – Consultancy work for Bel-Air, Chévere, Network and Samoa restaurants (Barcelona), along with Can Bosch (Cambrils).
1990 – Consultancy work for Reina de España restaurant (Puerto Rico).
1992 – Consultancy work for the Bernat II Hotel (Calella).
1993 – The Ñam-Ñam self-service restaurant opens at the same time as Dim-Sum, a European dim-sum concept restaurant. Both at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) in Barcelona.
1993 – A collaboration with Semon begins, which lasts one year.
1994 – Mas Pau restaurant opens, in Avinyonet de Puigventós (Figueres), run by Xavier Sagristà and Toni Gerez.
1995 – ElBullicatering is born, in which the cuisine, philosophy and service of elBulli is transferred to the world of catering.
1999 – Creation of elBullihotel, whose first project is the Hacienda Benazuza hotel, where consultancy work is also undertaken for the gastronomic offer of the hotel.
2001 – Commencing a collaboration with NH Hoteles, which bears fruit with two projects: Nhube and Fast Good.
2010 – Tickets. In collaboration with Albert Adrià; a re-imagining of the concept of contemporary tapas.
From 2011 on…
2015 – Heart Ibiza. In collaboration with Albert Adrià and the founder of Cirque du Soleil; a multidisciplinary project which allows us to explore the limits of what a restaurant is.
1998 –With ICC company, state-of-the-art kitchen utensils and appliances, including the siphon, are manufactured and commercialised.
2001 – Creation of Ola dishware with designer Gemma Bernal, produced by CIM, which became a success in the restaurant business.
2004 – Agreement with Armand Basi to create tablecloths and textile tableware products related to the world of cooking.
2004 – Creation of Faces, producing cutlery, kitchenware and utensils for table service, in a joint collaboration with some great names in Spanish design.
More than 15,000 pages of content
More than 8,000 images
6 CDs with 1,846 recipes
2009 – General Audio-visual Catalogue in 9 episodes, in collaboration with Televisión Española
2009 – A Day at elBulli
2011 – Documenting Documenta
In close collaboration
2009 – elBulli – Cooking in progress
2011 – elBulli, Last Waltz
…in addition to a large number of documentaries broadcasted on television channels throughout the world.