Review: El Bulli: Cooking in Progress



For a look at the amazing food crafted at El Bulli, wait till the end of the trailer above. The documentary El Bulli: Cooking in Progress has a much longer food porn slideshow at the end, and particularly if you like that kind of avant garde gastronomy, it's stunning — for its identified but not always recognizable ingredients, its vibrant colors, delicate shapes and even the dishes' titles. Full review here.

Ferran Adria's restaurant in northeastern Spain has been called the world's most famous restaurant. In some senses, it has few competitors. Not many restaurants aspire to serve 30-35 dishes that are all amuse bouches. Many are as much about texture, temperature and transformation as much as they are about flavor. In the film, the team of chefs endlessly hone a couple of dishes referred to as ice vinaigrettes and a vanishing ravioli. The ravioli is encased in a "pasta" that dissolves once the tiny packet is dipped in water. It doesn't seem appetizing. Also strange and suspect was the cocktail of oil, water and salt. Adria jokes that his brilliant restaurant serves only water.

Adria has made a couple of different announcements about his restaurant. First that it would close after the current season and reopen in 2014. Then that it would become a culinary academy. And that it would close, period. If that's true, there are precious few spots left. It serves only 50 guests per night. It is reported to receive 2 million reservation requests annually.

For anyone interested in this kind of cooking and not likely to make the trip to Spain or get a reservation, this is a must see movie. It's not Travel Channel's Anthony Bourdain being chummy and entertaining. It's reverent and artfully done. (Opens Friday at Zeitgeist.) The camera spends months with the chefs at their test lab/kitchen in Barcelona and then follows the restaurant team opening for the season, in which the art of presentation blossoms. More excerpts and commentary on El Bulli after the jump.

Anthony Bourdain visits and tries tofu tiramisu.

A questionable experiment with mushroom juice from Cooking in Progress.

Working on ice vinaigrettes, from Cooking in Progress.

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