Friday 23 February 2018

Cooking up a Catalonian storm

Paul Whitington

(Club, IFI, 108 minutes)

Director: Gereon Wetzel Stars: Ferran Adria, Oriol Castro, Eduad Xatruch, Eugeni de Diego

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On July 30, 2011, the celebrated Catalonian restaurant El Bulli closed its doors for the final time. A three-star Michelin establishment, El Bulli was booked out for years in advance but consistently lost money because of head chef Ferran Adria's relentless drive for innovation and perfection.

In 2008 and 2009, German filmmaker Gereon Wetzel followed Adria and his army of chefs as they created a menu for their busy summer season.

After the the restaurant closed for the winter, Adria and his cooks would decamp to a kind of culinary laboratory in Barcelona, where they'd experiment with new techniques and combinations of ingredients.

Adria's cooking occupies a rarified space midway between science and gastronomy, and he and his team pushed themselves hard. The 2009 menu contained more than 200 separate dishes, to be produced daily by more than 40 chefs. No wonder the place lost money.

Wetzel's film will not be for everyone, and only keen cooks and gastronomes will be entertained by the endless refinement of eccentric dishes.

But I must say I enjoyed it, the relationship between Ferran and his second in command Oriol Castro is fascinating, and the finished dishes suggest that El Bulli really was somewhere very special.

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