Somerset House is hosting a major retrospective exhibition on global icon of gastronomy, Ferran Adrià, and elBulli. The Art of Food is the world’s first exhibition dedicated to a chef and his restaurant and will showcase the art of cuisine and cuisine as art – going behind-the-scenes of the legendary laboratory and kitchen in Cala Montjoi, Roses.
Charting the evolution of elBulli, there will be in-depth, multimedia displays of its essential ingredients with research (handwritten notes and hand-drawn sketches); preparation (plasticine models, which were made for all the dishes served as a means for quality control of colour, portion size and position on the plate); presentation (original tasting menus, cutlery laid on the tables and food porn), and plaudits (original restaurant reviews and clippings).
Adrià arrived at the elBulli restaurant (it’s named after the original owners’ French bulldogs), on a work placement in 1983 during summer leave from national service. He made his way up the ranks and was appointed head chef within six months. In 1990, he became a co-owner.
In total, the elBulli team invented 1,846 dishes, inspiring and influencing a generation of chefs including Heston Blumenthal and René Redzepi, has been voted the world’s best restaurant five times by Restaurant magazine and received over two million reservation enquiries for each summer season that it was open.
The exhibition arrives two years after elBulli closed its doors to the public, following the decision to transform the restaurant into a foundation that, from 2015, will relaunch as an experiential centre and Bullipedia, a creative archive that will categorise the body of knowledge of culinary history. Said Adrià, “Even though the restaurant of elBulli is now closed, the spirit of elBulli is still very much alive and this exhibition is one of the ways of keeping it so.”
5 July – 29 September 2013
image: Andrew Rae