Friday, January 31, 2014

elBulli 2005-2011

It is hard to describe to someone who doesn’t know, just how amazing elBulli 2005-2011 is. For years, elBulli was changing not just the way we prepare food, but the way we think of it. Its chef, Ferran Adria, showed us that we could use food as creatively and intelligently as artists use paint and writers use words. Both of the previous books to come out of Adria’s mind, A Day at elBulli and A Family Meal were wonderful, beautiful food books; the former an examination of the entire creative process and a book I recommend to artists and the latter an actual applicable cookbook that allows you to bring a taste of the greatest chef in the world into your own home. (Quick sample: 1. grate chocolate on to a piece of toast while it’s still warm. 2. drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil 3. recover from your mind being blown)

Those of us who follow elBulli, whether in those books or The Sorcerer’s Apprentices, an excellent book about working there, or in the various TV shows and specials Adria appeared in, know there is another book. For six years, like a scientist in a lab or an obsessive writer at her journal, Adria recorded every single recipe they ever made.

2,720 pages spread over seven volumes with 1,400 images. The first six volumes record the recipes of each of the six years organized into six sections: Cocktails, Snacks, Tapas, Pre desserts, Desserts, and Morphings. Volume Seven is titled “Evolutionary Analysis,” and charts the philosophy, experiments, styles, and ingredients chronicled in the preceding volumes. It hasn’t even come out yet and I think it’s safe to say that it is the most important “cookbook” of the 21st century to date. You could probably read it as you would an art catalog or even an epic poem told in food you imagine.

At $625, in seven volumes, in hardcover, with a slipcase and so many pictures, weighing in at 40 lbs this book will have limited availability. It’s not for everybody, but if it’s for you, I highly, highly recommend pre-ordering a copy. Stores, in general, will be reluctant to carry more than one or two on the shelves and once those sell out, printing more will be very difficult. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at 617-491-2220 or send an email to

If you’re interested, but not ready to commit, along with the other books mentioned, I recommend taking this free online course offered by edX of Harvard that was designed by Adria. It features some of the greatest chefs in the world guiding you through their various techniques. You don’t have to do the homework or even watch the lessons in order to get a lot out of it, and exploring will give you a good sense of just how much you personally can get out of elBulli 2005-2011.

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