Missed Eating at El Bulli? Visit the Ferran Adria Exhibit at the Dali Musueum

Ferran Adria Invention of Food
Dali Museum

Ferran Adria is one of the most well-known names in the food world.  Salvador Dali is one of the most well-known names in the art world.  Both men challenged what was considered normal in their respective fields, creating masterpieces that led to worldwide acclaim.  And, both are from Spain's Costa Brava region, where Adria's El Bulli restaurant was situated just a few miles from Dali's home.  

So, it only makes sense that the St. Petersburg Dali Museum would devote its newest exhibit to Ferran Adria's creative vision of food in its "Invention of Food" exhibit, opening on September 25, 2016 until November 27, 2016.  “Adria looked so deeply and experimented so fundamentally with what was possible in creating food, that in a sense, he rediscovered it,” said Dr. Hank Hine, Dalí Museum Director. Both Salvador Dalí and Ferran Adrià are known for their groundbreaking imaginations, each aiming to transform the experience of their medium.

Hine remarked, “Ferran astounds your expectations as Dalí does, and he uses the medium of food to ask questions about the world and the way we see it.”

El Bulli was one of the first restaurants in the world to focus on transformative and avant gade cooking.  Under Adria's leadership, El Bulli earned three Michelin stars and was voted as the number one restaurant in the world by Restaurant Magazine.  Reservations were given on a lottery basis because only 8,000 seats were sold each year, though the restaurant received almost 2 million requests.  Guests considered it an honor to be able to eat at the tiny restaurant on the Spanish coast.  The restaurant closed in 2011 due to monetary losses but the restaurant reopened as a workshop center where other chefs could learn about molecular gastronomy and the exploration of creativity.

Since the closing of El Bulli, Ferran Adria has coauthored several cookbooks and developed a Harvard University course entitled "Science and Cooking."  In 2013, Somerset House in England created a retrospective show of El Bulli, called "The Art of Food," which highlighted Adria's sketches, drawings, plasticine models, and specialty dishes and utensils created for the restaurant.  Adria said of that exhibit, "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.

  For some, I hope it will revive good memories, and for others it will give a flavour of a fine dining experience like no other.  Overall, it is an ode to the creativity, imagination, innovation, talent and teamwork of everyone at elBulli, but especially the world-famous chefs who trained with us and took these values into their own restaurants around the world."

Like the Somerset House exhibit, the Dali Museum's exhibit will showcase Adria's culinary work with images of his creations paired with their inspirations from the natural world, creative notebooks, and tableware and serveware designed by Adria.  Dali, too, was a food lover and created marvelous utensils and some food-inspired paintings which will be presented in the exhibit.

Visitors who want to experience Adria's genius first hand can try a lobster gazpacho served at the Dali's Cafe Gala.  The museum is also hosting a Paella Party where Adria and Michael Mina will be on hand to discuss the food, mingle, and present their books.  The museum is also hosting seven homage dinners, each focused on a specific theme and introducing a special guest chef, to celebrate the museum's Invention of Food Exhibit:

  • Tuesday, October 4, 2016: Chef Michael Mina has "carefully curated [this dinner] to engage all the senses."  Mina, one of the top chefs in the country, named to James Beard Foundation's "Who's Who of Food & Beverage," is sure to impress at this meal.
  • Wednesday, October 12, 2016: Chef Jeremy Duclut, a winner of television's Chopped show and helms Cassis American Brasserie, takes his inspiration for this meal from the suite of Dali lithographs depicting the signs of the zodiac: twelve wine-paired courses reflecting the design of each print.
  • Wednesday, October 19, 2016: Chef Tyson Grant, chef at the Refinery and Fodder & Sons, will be presenting "a dinner that has no rules in the traditional sense, there will be no entree, no dessert, but a blurring of traditional roles and placement in the progression of the courses.”
  • Sunday, November 6, 2016: Chef Fabrizio Aielli, chef at Sea Salt, will present “Venetian world cuisine,” allowing diners to explore "traditional tastes authentic to the region, yet with dashes from faraway culinary palates."
  • Wednesday, November 9, 2016: Chef Marty Blitz of Mise en Place will compile "artful dishes that offer a once in a lifetime journey."
  • Wednesday, November 16, 2016: Chef Jeannie Pierola of food + drink lab will feature "pedigreed ingredients – both indigenous and exotic – designed with culinary subliminal text to heighten the senses and feed the psyche."