Life After the elBulli Restaurant

By Real Academia de Gastronomía

"We closed elBulli so that we could reopen elBulli." On July 30, 2011 the world's most famous restaurant served its last meal, and Ferran Adrià and his team embarked on a new phase of projects with one thing in mind: creativity.

elBulli, Last Waltz (trailer)Real Academia de Gastronomía

The Last Waltz

On July 30, 2011 elBulli, which had been named the world's best restaurant five times in a row, served diners for the last time. It was an occasion like no other, and the world's most influential chefs—all elBulli veterans—wanted to be there on that extraordinary day.

Ferran Adrià acknowledges that the public still doesn't understand why he closed the restaurant at the height of his career, and admits that there were several reasons. The main one was that they had pushed every limit of the gastronomic experience.

Press coversReal Academia de Gastronomía

elBulli, the mecca of world gastronomy, was located in Catalonia—the birthplace of artists such as Gaudí, Miró, and Dalí—in the seaside town of Roses.

The demand for creativity and innovation, which placed Ferran Adrià's work at the forefront of gastronomy, set the bar ever higher. Despite receiving almost 2 million reservations every year, the restaurant only had capacity for 7,000 guests each season.

Gastronomy Map - Sapiens by Ferran AdriàReal Academia de Gastronomía

Uncovering the Genome of Culinary Creation

Since closing the elBulli restaurant, Adrià has been working to encapsulate how creativity and innovation are generated, using the knowledge and experience he gained from years spent manning the world's most famous kitchen.

He knew from experience that a small company with limited resources could change how the gastronomic industry was understood, by having a very high degree of efficiency and creative longevity. The elBullifoundation is taking on a new challenge, not just in gastronomy, but in innovation.

RootsReal Academia de Gastronomía

The elBullifoundation

"We cut down the trunk and the branches, and kept the roots and seeds for the future."

elBullifoundation formation (2013-02-07)Real Academia de Gastronomía

The elBullifoundation is a private, family-run foundation set up by Ferran Adrià and his business partner, Juli Soler, on February 7, 2013.

It was born out of a need to transform the experience they had gained at the Cala Montjoi restaurant into a vision for the future, to maintain and protect the legacy and spirit of elBulli. It is a vision based primarily on promoting innovation and creativity in cooking.

The Why of transformationReal Academia de Gastronomía

The elBullifoundation's objectives are based on a desire to lead an initiative centered on knowledge, education, business, and innovation; one that is focused on gastronomy, but capable of transcending other projects, fields, disciplines, and industries.

One objective is to preserve and pass on elBulli's legacy to society through its site at elBulli1846 in Cala Montjoi, and LABulligrafía in Barcelona.

elBullifoundation documentReal Academia de Gastronomía


There are no set opening hours. There are no reservations. There is no routine. It doesn't have to be predictable. There are no walls. There is no security. There is risk. There is Freedom. There is Creativity.
There is Creative Freedom.

elBullifoundation logoReal Academia de Gastronomía

Designing an economic model for the sustainability of the foundation and its projects.

Researching and experimenting in order to be more effective and efficient when it comes to innovation. The foundation's focus for research is gourmet dining, and all the professions and industries that interact with it.

Sharing its work with other professions and academic disciplines.

Stone at elBulli entranceReal Academia de Gastronomía

In elBulli's DNA

Starting over, but with 40 years of experience behind them—interacting with the past while looking to the future—the elBullifoundation was born.

From elBullirestaurant to elBullifoundation (2012)Real Academia de Gastronomía

"Ferran Adrià & elBulli Risk, Freedom & Creativity (1961 - 2011)" exhibit posterReal Academia de Gastronomía

The elBullifoundation's philosophy rests on the very same pillars that ensured the success of the restaurant: creativity and innovation, risk and freedom, passion and hard work, and ethics and generosity. These are the values that characterized Adrià's way of thinking and operating—and that of his team—for many years. But most important of all is enthusiasm: enthusiasm for an operational and organizational approach that is centered on the innovation of the elBulli restaurant, and that can be applied to other areas and industries.

The elBullifoundation is split into two large projects. The first is LABulligrafía, a space in Barcelona that hosts editorial projects and the seeds of elBulli's future museum and archive. The second is elBulli1846, a research center that will be housed in the former restaurant in Cala Montjoi.

elBulli1846 logoReal Academia de Gastronomía

An Ecosystem for Creativity and Innovation

elBulli1846 will consist of a team of 20 people who will research and experiment with creation and innovation, with the aim of improving efficiency and analyzing ways of establishing the ideal creative ecosystem.

It will open its doors in Cala Montjoi (Roses), in the premises of the old restaurant and residence of Marketta Schilling, who first lived there. However, it will not be open to visitors. Instead, it will be a space dedicated to study and research.

Cooks in Cala MontjoiReal Academia de Gastronomía

The team will be led by Ferran Adrià and its members will change on the basis of an application process. It will research efficiency in innovation, applying the Sapiens methodology that Adrià himself developed.

The team will use gourmet dining as a language and a theme, establishing dialogs with all related professions, disciplines, activities, and industries. However, their findings could be applied to other working environments too.

LABulligrafia (english)Real Academia de Gastronomía

50 Years of elBulli

LABulligrafía is the museum and archive that showcases elBulli and the work of Ferran Adrià, Juli Soler, and Albert Adrià.

The exhibition of the restaurant's material and intangible legacy will highlight the influence it had on world gastronomy, with its content and narrative based on a creative audit and analysis of elBulli as a business.

LABulligrafía will have both a physical and online presence.

La BulligrafiaReal Academia de Gastronomía

LABulligrafía Offline

In 1993, Ferran Adrià and his team began the meticulous task of archiving and documenting all of the information on elBulli's creative process, including notebooks, notes made on paper napkins, photographs, and publications. These will soon fill all 64,500 square feet of the first ever museum dedicated to a restaurant from the perspective of creative analysis and innovation.

This museum will be LABulligrafía Offline, an exhibition space where visitors will find thousands of objects and documents that are significant to the evolution of innovation at elBulli.

La Bulligrafia Online / OfflineReal Academia de Gastronomía

LABulligrafía Online

This is a virtual space where visitors will find an online archive containing thousands of images, videos, and documents that help explain the history of elBulli, Adrià, and his team, connecting projects, industries, and disciplines.

This will all be made available to a global audience, revealing how a small business with limited resources was able to have such a huge influence in its field at a global level.

Sapiens logoReal Academia de Gastronomía

Sapiens: The Common Thread

Seven years after closing the doors to his restaurant, Ferran Adrià presented Sapiens: a methodology to help the world innovate. He first started using this system at elBulli, and it took him to the cutting edge of gastronomic world.

Gastronomy Map - Sapiens by Ferran AdriàReal Academia de Gastronomía

"When we thought about studying cookery and gourmet dining, we decided we would need a specific methodology that would allow us to organize the information and get it in the right order for us to understand and analyze it."

"That is how we came up with Sapiens: a methodology that, by questioning the status quo, would allow us to understand a product, project, company, industry, or field."

What is Sapiens? by Diari ARAOriginal Source: Diari ARA

The Sapiens methodology focuses on each element being studied from an empirical and holistic research perspective. That means approaching it from several different angles and looking at different aspects, with the aim of understanding the multiple dimensions of each system, how they interact with each other, and how they evolve over time.

In so doing, you get the amount of knowledge and information you need to embark on each objective and, most importantly, to look at the creative processes.

What is Sapiens based on? by Diari ARAOriginal Source: Diari ARA

Understanding to Innovate, or Innovating to Understand

Sapiens is based on a dialog with several different disciplines: arts and humanities, the business sector, science, and education.

The team have also brought together around 20 theories and sources, ranging from Descartes to Design Thinking, and from general systems theory to Clayton M. Christensen's disruptive innovation and Henry Chesbrough's open innovation.

elBulliLab façadeReal Academia de Gastronomía

The Mission: Compiling elBulli's Learnings

elBulliLab is the creative epicenter for Adrià and his team. It's a space for amassing knowledge, from which two big projects have emerged: Bullipedia and elBulli's General Catalog.

A day at elBulliLabReal Academia de Gastronomía


Between 2014 and 2017, elBulliLab was Adrià's research center in Barcelona.

Seen as a creative pop-up lab, it was not only where the Sapiens methodology was developed, but was also used for creating content such as books, apps, and exhibitions—something that will continue at elBulli1846. This content will be used to build Bullipedia.

BullipediaReal Academia de Gastronomía

elBulli's Wealth of Knowledge

Bullipedia is a multimedia content platform that aims to become the world's first encyclopedia of gastronomy, creativity, and innovation.

The elBulli restaurant's creative system; raw ingredients; the first volumes on the history of food, cooking and gastronomy; drinks; and the tools used in food preparation are just some of the topics covered by Bullipedia's projects. Depending on the nature of each theme, they will appear in various formats, including printed and digital books, apps, or the new "seaurching" model of online courses based on the Sapiens method.

General Catalogue elBulli, 1983-1993Real Academia de Gastronomía

The elBulli General Catalog

This ambitious work is a compilation of the 1,846 dishes that were created between 1983 and July 30, 2011, when elBulli closed. Its 10,000 pages also include an analysis of the new dishes that were produced each season.

"elBulli - History of a dream"Real Academia de Gastronomía

elBulli's Audiovisual Catalog

"Historia de un sueño" (The Story of a Dream) takes you on an enjoyable journey through all of elBulli's gastronomic achievements, and the experiences of those involved. It covers the culinary journey up to the present day, and its transformation into the elBullifoundation.

It was launched through Amazon Prime Video in over 150 countries.

Credits: Story

Text: Ferran Adriá / Marc Cuspinera

Image: elBullifoundation / © F. Guillamet / Visual13

Acknowledgements: Rafael Ansón, president of the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy; Elena Rodríguez, director of the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy; María García and Caroline Verhille, contributors to the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy.

Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy

This exhibition is part of the Spanish Gastronomy project jointly coordinated by Google Arts & Culture and the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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