Ferran Adria doc El Bulli: Cooking in Progress at Miami Beach Cinematheque, O Cinema
Molecular gastronomy rock star Ferran Adrià's Catalonian culinary paradise El Bulli served its last meal July 31. The overhead of running the world's most innovative, most exclusive restaurant dwarfed the income recoupable from serving 8,000 $500 meals a year. Adrià plans to transform the compound into "a think tank for creative cuisine"; Cooking in Progress documents the 2008-09 season, one of the last in El Bulli's life as a restaurant, from the start of the six-month workshopping process Adrià oversaw each year in a Barcelona kitchen lab, to the debut of his new creations in the seaside dining room. "This year is the year of water," Adrià declares as his kitchen sets to work inventing a hazelnut oil "cocktail," "a ravioli whose pasta vanishes," and a fish dish finished with ice chips. Dozens of young punks labor to please their elder master. "It's simply bad," Adrià tells one of his chefs after tasting an experiment. "Don't give me anything that isn't good." The creative stakes are high: "What matters is that it's magical, that it opens up a new path," Adrià reminds. Cooking in Progress is, in fact, all magic and no path: This is extreme fly-on-the-wall vérité, with only the barest context provided (no helpful TV-style titles here — when it comes to identifying ingredients and techniques, viewers are usually left to their own devices). Newbies to the new gastronomy might find it impenetrable, but seasoned gourmands should be fully primed to geek out as the culinary impossible is realized one painstaking step at a time.
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