Ferran Adrià

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.

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14th May 1962

Ferran Adrià Acosta was born in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, a province of Barcelona, Spain. He lived with his parents, Ginès, a plasterer, and Josefa, a housewife, and his brother Albert. He completed his basic education at Escola Casal dels Àngels in his home town and at Colegio de San Isidro, in the city of Barcelona. His passion was football, and he played for the Juventud de L’Hospitalet club until 1974 and Santa Eulàlia F.C. until 1980.

He had no interest at all in cooking during this period, which was typical for a boy of his age.



In 1977, he enrolled at the Institut Mare de Déu de la Mercè, a college where he took a business course, a requisite that would enable him to take a degree in business administration at university.

For no particular reason, he abandoned his studies in 1980. Intending to earn money to pay for a holiday in Ibiza, he began his culinary career by chance when he took his first modest step by working as a dishwasher at Hotel Playafels, in Castelldefels, near L’Hospitalet.

Miquel Moy, the chef at the hotel restaurant and one of his father’s close friends, taught Ferran the basic culinary techniques. After a few months, now in 1981, he found work at Club Cala Leña, in Es Canà, Ibiza. He returned to Barcelona a few months later and took on different jobs in establishments such as El Suquet, Castell Arnau and Martinica. In 1982, he joined the prestigious Finisterre restaurant, where he remained until he was called up for military service on 2 July 1982.



From mid-1982 until late 1983, Ferran was stationed at the naval base in Cartagena, where he joined the admiral’s kitchen team and was later made head of the kitchen, giving him his first experience of responsibility. Taking the advice of a fellow Catalan recruit, who had been working at elBulli, he spent his month’s leave in the summer of 1983 at the Cala Montjoi restaurant. Afterwards, Ferran agreed to join the restaurant’s staff once he had completed his military service.



After finishing his military service, Ferran worked from January to March 1984 at the San Marcos restaurant in Seville, and then joined the staff at elBulli in April 1984 as a chef de partie. With the departure of the head chef Jean-Paul Vinay, Ferran and Christian Lutaud were appointed joint head chefs by the manager, Juli Soler, on 1 November. Juli Soler encouraged Ferran to travel around France to learn about the world of fine-dining restaurants. He did internships in kitchens run by Georges Blanc and Jacques Pic. In October 1986, with the departure of Christian Lutaud, he became elBulli’s sole head chef.

From 1987, Ferran abandoned nouvelle cuisine-style dishes and pursued his own way of understanding cuisine. He began by using local ingredients, techniques and elaborations, and he gave them a new perspective from the point of view of haute cuisine. Until 1993, this ‘Mediterranean style’ defined elBulli cuisine, a style that would later become influential in the Catalan and Spanish cuisine of the time.

In 1990, elBulli S.L. was founded by partners Juli Soler and Ferran Adrià, which developed different lines and models of business.

elBulli S.L. would reinvest 20 per cent of its turnover in innovation. In fact, elBullirestaurante operated as the R&D department of a consultancy firm that offered services to the food and restaurant industry, but its commitment to innovation was always given priority over business. This model has allowed elBulli to maintain its radical nature.

In the early 1990s, a change took place in the cuisine offered by Ferran and elBullirestaurante. The ‘Mediterranean’ dishes were joined by a series of new concepts, elaborations, techniques and service formats, paving the way for the change that would take place in 1994. From then on, there would always be a series of elements that characterise the elBulli style.

In late 1987, Ferran and Juli divided the restaurant’s season into two parts: there would be six months of restaurant service and six months when the restaurant would be closed.

In the second half of the 1990s, there was a search for the ideal formula to set up a workshop, the first in the history of gastronomy. After trying out several locations, elBullitaller was established in Barcelona’s Carrer Portaferrisa in 2000. It was here that a model of innovation was established and gradually refined. During the six months when Barcelona was closed, rather than create a dish based on one idea, hundreds of ideas, concepts, techniques and elaborations would be considered, resulting in finished dishes and menus during the six months at elBulli. Moreover, all the variables and resources of the process were subjected to a creative audit that would provide a high level of efficiency and effectiveness. Ultimately, this would be the determining factor for elBulli’s creative longevity.

Ferran married Isabel Pérez in 2002. The couple have no children.


30 July 2011

elBullirestaurante closed to become elBullifoundation.



The sad news of Juli Soler’s uncurable illness forced a rethink of the project created by the Soler-Adrià partnership.

Without the invaluable assistance provided by Juli, Ferran would take on the consultancy work and image projects alone. At the same time, elBullifoundation launched its knowledge and innovation projects.

7 February 2013

This date marks the founding of elBullifoundation, a private, family-based foundation led by Ferran Adrià and Juli Soler.


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

2005Texturas, 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.

1994Mas Pau restaurant opens, in Avinyonet de Puigventós (Figueres), run by Xavier Sagristà and Toni Gerez.

1995ElBullicatering 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.



Printed publications (including for elBulliBooks and material for other publishers)

35 books
More than 15,000 pages of content
More than 8,000 images
6 CDs with 1,846 recipes

Audio-visual publications

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



  • 1994 Grand Prix de L’Art de la Cuisine. Awarded by: International Academy of Gastronomy.
  • 1997 elBulli receives its third star from the Michelin Guide.
  • 2002 World’s Best Restaurant. Awarded by: The Restaurant Magazine.
  • 2003 Cover of the Sunday supplement of The New York Times Magazine. On 10th August, a sixteen-page article about the New Nouvelle cuisine that places Spanish avantgarde cuisine as the top gastronomy in the world and Ferran Adrià as its maximum exponent.
  • As President of the Advisory Board of the Alicia Foundation, created in 2003, Ferran leads an innovative project researching food and health, using cuisine as a language.
  • 2004 Cover of Time Magazine, naming Ferran as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
  • 2005 The Ferran Adrià Chair in Gastronomic Culture and Food Sciences is set up at the Camilo José Cela University in Madrid.
  • 2006 Lucky Strike Designer Award. Awarded by: Raymond Loewy Foundation.
  • 2006 World’s Best Restaurant. Awarded by: The Restaurant Magazine.
  • 2007 Honorary Degree from the Faculty of Chemistry of the Universitat de Barcelona.
  • 2007 Ferran is the first chef ever invited to take part in Documenta, the prestigious five-yearly exhibition of contemporary art in Kassel.
  • 2007 World’s Best Restaurant. Awarded by: The Restaurant Magazine.
  • 2007 European Merit Gold Medal. Awarded by: Fondation du Mérite Européen, supported by the European Community.
  • 2008 Honorary Degree from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
  • 2008 World’s Best Restaurant. Awarded by: The Restaurant Magazine.
  • 2009 World’s Best Restaurant. Awarded by: The Restaurant Magazine.
  • 2009 The menu of elBulli inspires a musical composition. In June, Le livre des illusions (hommage à Ferran Adrià) is presented at Salle Pleyel in Paris. The work is composed by the French musician Bruno Mantovani and comprises 35 movements through which the composer illustrates the texture of each of the 35 dishes in the tasting menu.
  • 2010 Honorary Degree from the Universitat Politècnica de València.
  • 2010 Visiting Professor at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences of Harvard University.
  • 2011 Global Brand Ambassador for Telefónica.
  • The efficiency, effectiveness and creative longevity of the elBulli model has attracted the attention of various business schools, which have devoted efforts to researching and making case studies of Ferran Adrià and elBulli: Columbia, Harvard, ESADE Business School, IESE, Berkeley, London Business School, …
  • Different exhibitions are staged during the 2012-2018 period (see annex).
  • He is the author of more than 30 books (see annex).


  • El Bulli. El sabor del Mediterráneo, Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler. Photographs: Francesc Guillamet. Antártida, 1993
  • Los secretos de El Bulli, Ferran Adrià. Altaya, 1998
  • Cocinar en 10 minutos con Ferran Adrià, Ferran Adrià. Photographs: Francesc Guillamet. El Corte Inglés, 1998
  • Las 50 nuevas tapas de Ferran Adrià, Ferran Adrià. Photographs: Francesc Guillamet. Woman, 1998
  • 70 platos nuevos y ligeros para el verano. Aceites, vinagretas y ensaladas por Ferran Adrià, Ferran Adrià. Photographs: Francesc Guillamet. Woman, 1998
  • Celebrar el milenio con Arzak y Adrià – 2000 – 2001, Ferran Adrià, Juan Mari Arzak. Photographs: Francesc Guillamet. Ediciones Península, 1999
  • elBulli 1998-2002, Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler, Albert Adrià. Photographs: Francesc Guillamet. elBullibooks, 2002
  • elBulli 1994-1997, Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler, Albert Adrià. Photographs: Francesc Guillamet. elBullibooks, 2003
  • Cocinar en casa con Caprabo y Ferran Adrià, Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler, Albert Adrià. Photographs: Francesc Guillamet. elBullibooks, 2003
  • elBulli 1983-1993, Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler, Albert Adrià. Photographs: Francesc Guillamet. elBullibooks, 2004
  • elBulli 2003-2004, Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler, Albert Adrià. Photographs: Francesc Guillamet. elBullibooks, 2005
  • elBulli2005, Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler, Albert Adrià. Photographs: Francesc Guillamet. elBullibooks, 2006
  • Léxico científico gastronómico. Fundación Alicia, elBullitaller. Editorial Planeta, 2006
  • Un día en elBulli, Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler, Albert Adrià. Photographs: Maribel Ruiz de Erenchun. elBullibooks, 2007
  • Mibu-elBulli, Nahomi Tanaka, Dai Ochiai. 2007
  • A Day at elBulli, Ferran Adrià, Albert Adrià, Juli Soler. Photographs: Maribel Ruiz de Erenchun. Phaidon, 2009
  • La cocina de la salud, Ferran Adrià, Valentí Fuster. Planeta, 2011
  • La comida de la familia / The Family Meal, Ferran Adrià, elBullirestaurante team. RBA / Phaidon, 2011
  • elBulli 2005 2010-11, Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler, Albert Adrià. Photographs: Francesc Guillamet. Phaidon, 2014
  • Te cuento en la cocina, Ferran Adrià, Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel. Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial, 2016
  • Bullipedia: Between 2017 and 2020, approximately 20 books will be published forming part of an encyclopaedia of Western restaurant gastronomy.


  • La cocina fácil de Ferran Adrià. Ferran Adrià. 2005
  • Catálogo audiovisual. Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler, Albert Adrià. RTVE, 2009
  • Un día en elBulli. Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler, Albert Adrià. RTVE, 2009
  • elBulli. Cooking in progress. Gereon Wetzel. A contracorriente, 2010
  • Documenting Documenta. Ferran Adrià. elBulli, 2011
  • El último vals. Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler, Albert Adrià. elBulli, 2011


…in addition to a large number of documentaries broadcasted on television channels throughout the world.



  • From 2nd February 2012 to 3rd February 2013 at the Palau Robert in Barcelona, entitled: Ferran Adrià & elBulli: Risk, Freedom & Creativity. This exhibition is also held between 5th July and 29th September at Somerset House (London), called: “El Bulli; Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food”, and later, from 15th February to 26th May 2013 at the Museum of Science (MoS) in Boston (Massachusetts), entitled: “Innovation in the Art of Food: Chef Ferran Adrià”.
  • From 25th January to 28th February 2014 at the Drawing Center (New York) under the title “Ferran Adrià: Notes on Creativity”. This touring exhibition is also held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland (Ohio) between 26th September 2014 and 18th January 2015. Then it transfers to the Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minneapolis from 17th September 2015 to 3rd January 2016 and then on to Marres, House for Contemporary Culture in Maastricht (The Netherlands) from 20th March to 12th June 2016.
  • From 19th to 23rd February 2014 in the El País stand at Arco Madrid (International Contemporary Art Fair), Ferran Adrià’s drawings and annotations are displayed, describing the map of the gastronomic process and giving a diagrammatic reflection of the evolution of cuisine, from the Big Bang right up to the present time. This show complements the exhibition being held concurrently at the Drawing Center in New York.
  • From 2nd June to 31st August 2014 at the Palau Robert in Barcelona, a public exhibition is held presenting the architectural and conceptual project for elBullifoundation in Cala Montjoi, sharing the background to the project and its plans and models.
  • On 29th October 2014 an exhibition entitled “Ferran Adrià. Auditing the Creative Process” is inaugurated in Madrid, at Fundación Telefónica, which explores the codification of the creative process. After, the exhibition tours different countries for two years: Peru (Lima), Brazil (Sao Paulo), Germany (Berlin) and Argentina (Buenos Aires).
  • From 25th September to 27th November 2016 an exhibition entitled “Ferran Adrià: The Invention of Food” is held at the Dalí Museum of St. Petersburg (Florida, United States). The exhibition offers an overview of the phenomenon of creation, drawing a parallel between the emblematic elBullirestaurante, in Cala Montjoi, and neighbouring Cadaqués, a place representative of the presence of Salvador Dalí.
  • Between 15th November 2016 and 31st May 2017 an exhibition entitled “Sapiens. Understand to create” is held in Barcelona. A dish as emblematic and apparently as simple as tomato bread is the ideal pretext to address the complex and plural reality of the world of cooking, together with the difficulty of understanding what we mean by: “natural” products, elaborated products, elaborations, the role of tradition… This exhibition, created at CosmoCaixa, in collaboration with Fundación La Caixa and Obra Social La Caixa, is the first exhibition concerning the Sapiens methodology, which has been developed by Ferran Adrià and the elBullifoundation team.


  1. Cooking is a language through which all the following properties can be expressed: harmony, creativity, happiness, beauty, poetry, complexity, magic, humour, provocation, culture.
  2. Two things are taken as given: the use of the highest quality products and the skill and expertise to prepare them properly.
  3. All the products have the same culinary value, regardless of their price.
  4. Preference is given to vegetables and seafood, with a key role also being played by dairy products, dried fruits and nuts and other products that make up a light form of cooking. In recent years sparing use has been made of red meat and poultry in large pieces.
  5. Although the characteristics of the products are modified (temperature, texture, form, etc.), the aim is always to preserve the purity of their original taste, except for processes that call for long cooking or seek the nuances of processes like the Maillard reaction.
  6. Cooking techniques, both classic and modern, are a heritage that the cook must know how to utilise with expertise.
  7. As has occurred in most fields of human evolution down the ages, new technologies are a support for the ongoing progress of cooking.
  8. The family of stocks/fonds is being extended. Together with the classic ones, lighter fonds performing an identical function are now being used (water products, broths, consommés, clarified vegetable juice, nut milks, etc.).
  9. The information given by a dish is enjoyed through the senses; it can also be enjoyed and rationalised through reflection.
  10. Taste is not the only sense that can be stimulated: touch can also be played with (contrasts of temperatures and textures), as well as smell, sight (colours, shapes, trompe d’oeil, etc.), whereby the five senses become one of the main points of reference in the creative cooking process.
  11. The technical-conceptual search is the apex of the creative pyramid.
  12. Creation involves teamwork. Furthermore, research and investigation has become established as a new characteristic in the culinary creative process.
  13. The barriers between the sweet and savoury world are being broken down. A new cold cuisine has gained importance in which the highlight is the creation of the frozen savoury world.
  14. The classical structure of dishes is being broken down: a veritable revolution is underway in first courses and desserts, closely bound up with the concept of symbiosis between sweet and savoury worlds. In main dishes the “product-garnish-sauce” hierarchy is being broken down.
  15. A new way of serving food is being fostered. The finishing of dishes in the dining room by serving staff has been worked upon. In other cases, the diners themselves participate in the finishing of the dish.
  16. Local cooking tradition as a style is a sense of bonding with the local geographical and cultural context, as well as with its culinary tradition. The link with nature complements and enriches this relationship with the environment.
  17. Products and elaborations from other countries are subject to the individual criteria of cooking.
  18. There are two main paths to achieve harmony between products and flavours: through memory (connection with local cooking traditions, adaptation, deconstruction, previous modern recipes), or through new combinations.
  19. An individual language more and more systematised is created that on occasions establishes a relationship with the world and the language of art.
  20. Recipes are conceptualised that give harmony to small servings.
  21. Decontextualization, irony, spectacle, performance, are completely legitimate, providing they are not superficial but are closely bound up with a process of gastronomic reflection.
  22. The tasting menu is the greater expression of avant-garde cuisine. The structure is living and subject to changes. Concepts such as snacks, tapas, avant-desserts, morphings, etc are coming into their own.
  23. Knowledge and/or collaboration with experts in different fields (gastronomic culture, history, industrial design, etc.) is paramount for our ongoing evolution. In particular, cooperation with the food industry and science has resulted in a fundamental shift. Sharing this knowledge between the different culinary professions contributes to this evolution.