El Bulli: Cooking in Progress: Inside the World's Greatest Food Lab

Illustration for article titled El Bulli: Cooking in Progress: Inside the World's Greatest Food Lab

One of the great regrets of my life is that I'll never have the chance to sample a meal at El Bulli, the now-closed Spanish restaurant considered by very many to be the best in the world, where chef Ferran Adrià pushed the frontiers of food. This documentary by Gereon Wetzel will likely be as close as I get to experiencing a meal there.


El Bulli: Cooking in Progress is a sort of Behind The Music of a meal. It takes you backstage over the course of a year, into the kitchen where you get to hang out in an intimate setting with Adrià and his staff, even joining them for meals. But largely, it helps you get into Adrià's thought process as he spends six months preparing for the next season, planning everything around just an idea. From the idea, the movie follows chefs through a lab setting and test kitchen to final presentation. It is food-as-science experiment, and although it drags a bit in parts, if you're fascinated by Adrià and the effect he's had on global cuisine, this is a must-see.

Be warned, it's In Spanish Catalan* with English subtitles, so you'll have to learn how to read. [Netflix]

*And I obviously need to learn a second language.



It's a fascinating documentary, one of the most interesting things about it is that Adria never cooks anything, the chefs cook stuff and they bring it to him to taste, like adult birds bringing food to a baby chick. Having dined at el bulli I can say that unfortunately th film doesn't do much to convey what the diner's experience was like, how tactile and fun and witty interacting with the food was, of the 33 course we had more than half of them we got no cutlery, everything from a simple grilled prawn to snowballs made of frozen sake were to be eaten with the fingers.

You can try much of the same food at Adria's new restaurants in Barcelona, Tickets and 41 Degrees, and unlike el bulli, mere mortals can get in, the experience is a little different, they are much livelier places that el bulli which was quite formal.