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A Day at elBulli

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"A Day at elBulli: an insight into the ideas, methods and creativity of Ferran Adrià is an exclusive look behind the scenes at elBulli, the best restaurant in the world, and into the mind of Ferran Adrià, the most creative chef working today." With 2,000,000 requests for reservations every year and only 8,000 places, it is notoriously difficult to get a table there. Now, for the first time, A Day at elBulli opens the doors to everyone and reveals the inner workings of the kitchen and the gastronomic innovations that have helped create the spectacular food. Illustrated with over 1,000 colour photographs, the book includes recipes and inserted sections explaining the creative methods and food philosophy, the history of elBulli and the life of Ferran Adrià.

528 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2007

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About the author

Ferran Adrià

91 books30 followers
One of the world's top chefs, Ferran Adrià Acosta (born May 14, 1962) headed the restaurant elBulli, joining the staff in 1984 and rapidly progressing to become head chef. Famous for his pioneering culinary techniques, he has been applauded—and imitated—around the world, and won three Michelin stars for elBulli, along with many other accolades. Since elBulli's closure in 2011, Ferran has been lecturing around the world and developing the elBullifoundation, a culinary academy and think tank, on the site of the former restaurant.

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5 stars
343 (49%)
4 stars
214 (30%)
3 stars
109 (15%)
2 stars
25 (3%)
1 star
9 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 53 reviews
Profile Image for Mayee.
33 reviews6 followers
February 11, 2010
This gigantic tome serves as a useless cookbook for anyone who is looking to practically apply any of Ferran Adria's molecular gastronomy techniques in his/her own kitchen; rather, it is an entertaining image-laden account of Adria's daily routine in the 3-Michelin star restaurant El Bulli which details his creative but disciplined processes and gastronomic philosophy, organised according to a 24-hr timeline.

Legendary institutions such as El Bulli are not built in a day, and the book's different sections portray the restaurant as a collective effort shaped by dedicated and passionate individuals led by Ferran and Albert Adria and Juli Soler. After reading this book, one understands why El Bulli has to close its doors in the years 2012 - 2013. Given the extensive working hours of the staff and the intensive nature of the restaurant's menu conceptualisation sessions, 2 years hardly counts as a breather.
Profile Image for Serge Pierro.
Author 1 book35 followers
August 30, 2012
Quite an impressive book - both on covering Elbulli and its sheer weight! This hefty book is more of a pictorial essay on a day at Elbulli, though there are inserts with text explaining the approaches and such taken by Ferran Adria. Having previously read a book on Elbulli (The Sorcerer's Apprentices) I was familiar with the cast of main characters, and this book fleshed out that impression with an impressive collection of photographs showing all the aspects of the day. Having worked in a kitchen, I was reminded of all the work that goes on behind the scenes before the first customer is seated. I feel that this is a good accompaniment to other books on the subject, and not as interesting for someone who doesn't have any familiarity with the restaurant or chef.
Profile Image for Vladimir Semenov.
100 reviews
May 12, 2020
An insight into one of the most influential restaurants in the world. A bit of recipes with a lot of pictures. More interesting for someone who has not ever been in the restaurant kitchen, rather than professional chef. Insight into creativity was nice, though.
24 reviews2 followers
November 4, 2009
Ferran Adria is considered by some/many culinary experts as the world's greatest chef and El Bulli (in Spain) as one of the premier restaurants anywhere. This book is the photo and text portrait of a day at El Bulli, including the activities of everybody from the people and places the restaurant buys its food from to the chefs, the sous chefs, the waitstaff, and, eventually, those only 8000 persons a year lucky enough (and rich enough) to spend over 200 Euros per person for the tasting menu of 30 or so innovative courses. The book also provides a biography of Adria, of the restaurant, of the evolution of Adria's innovative cuisine, of what Adria and his crew do in developing new dishes during the six months the restaurant is closed each year. Finally, there a recipes for a number of the restaurant's unique dishes, but the recipes are nothing like you have seen before.

I can't help but expecting to feel guilty on spending anything over $50 or so for a meal and have not done so, but I must admit that eating at El Bulli must be like eating edible art. In that sense, this book is the diary of the work of artists.
Profile Image for Mili.
234 reviews41 followers
October 15, 2013
Me lo compré inmediatamente después de ver el documental homónimo.

El libro ilustra con imágenes de alta calidad y apuntes del mismo Ferran Adriá la compleja rutina de abrir todos los años el mejor restaurante del mundo, desde la planificación del menú, la organización del personal y la preparación del lugar, hasta la capacitación de los chefs y la creación de sus platos más distintivos.

Como bonus, el libro incluye también algunas recetas de los emblemáticos platos. Si bien no son recetas pensadas para realizar por amas de casa (las técnicas son muy complejas y los ingredientes difíciles de conseguir y excesivamente caros), es suficiente para satisfacer la curiosidad de aquellos foodies a los que les interese saber más sobre técnicas de cocina molecular y composición de ciertos platos, también sirve para inspirar a chefs en la creación de sus propias recetas.

Lo recomiendo a todos aquellos interesados en la gastronomía como negocio, como lugar de innovación y creatividad, y como una disciplina de la que siempre se puede aprender algo. Realmente un libro imperdible.
Profile Image for Anna.
691 reviews128 followers
March 29, 2014
A huge book that gives exactly what it promises. A day at El Bulli restaurant.
Lots of cool photos capturing the atmosphere and the creative processes and the daily logistics of how El Bulli worked (the restaurant has since shut down, for owners' desire rather than financial need).
El Bulli was one of the most famous and fanciest restaurants, and I tried to get a reservation there for a few years. I've only had luck in enjoying glimpses in Bourdain's shows, and maybe one day... we'll get some taste in some place run by some chef that used to work at El Bulli. Until then, this book is more than satisfactory. You even get a ton of recipes (you'll need your own tools to make the food turn to fire or ice or other elements, stuff I don't have even if my kitchen is equipped for most Japanese odd cooking quirks). Just awesome compilation of the atmosphere, techniques, trying to doucment the processes and the atmosphere and how the place worked. One physical day picked more or less randomly when the place was open. Can't hope for much more.
Profile Image for David.
34 reviews
November 18, 2008
A Day at elBulli is the quintessential foodie bible. Ferran Adria takes the reader, if we can be called mere readers with this amazing and beautiful book, into a single day at his restaurant. The pages are not numbered but by the use of a time-stamp at the top of each page, we are let in to witness the activies of the restaurant.

As a professional chef myself, I use this book for inspiration in my daily work. When I'm not trying some of the recipes Adria and his team have come up with, I'm using his genius as inspiration and trying out some of my own ideas.

I think this book is one of my top choices for food writing/cookbooks. A very hearty 5 stars. One of the only books that would compare would be the Alinea cookbook.
Profile Image for Steven.
184 reviews2 followers
July 24, 2009
As the title states, we follow the most acclaimed chef in the world, Ferran Adria, as he and his staff prepare for a day at his restaurant along La Costa Brava. The book is a revealing look at the process and work involved in creating a menu based on what is known as molecular gastronomy by its foremost practitioner. The coffee table format and thickness translate to many gorgeous and telling photos, leaving you with the sense of being a reporter who has been granted full access. Recipes of that season's menu and inserted asides on creativity and creation round out the book. It's well worth buying for a friend or as a gift to yourself.
Profile Image for David.
96 reviews13 followers
November 1, 2009
My brother-in-law, an aspiring chef, recently gave us A Day at eBulli as a gift. The book is photo journal day in the life of this famous restaurant. To be honest it took me a while to pick it up. It quite literally weighs a ton, and the cover wrap that proclaimed “Best chef in the world” and “Best restaurant in the world” had me put off a bit.

What I expected to see what narcissistic food porn, but was surprised to find a story of authenticity, innovation and creativity disguised as a coffee table book.

... full review on my blog.
Profile Image for Michelle.
109 reviews6 followers
July 26, 2015
3 1/2 to 4 stars for this fascinating and large book. The food was kind of beyond me, but it was thrilling to read about the creative process and theory behind the restaurant and these amazing little dishes.

Also, the way the book is put together is just really neat. Between the text and pictures it is effective in creating an immersive and informative experience. For me anyway! I was intrigued the whole time :)
Profile Image for Colin.
Author 3 books9 followers
March 12, 2012
At this point, reading about elBulli is like reading about a place you'll never go--especially if you weren't able to get to Chicago for Next Restaurant's recreation/homage to the Catalan restaurant. And just as you'll never go to elBulli, you'll probably never make a single recipe out of this book. But that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile; in a way, it's a beautiful fantasy, a slice of time in a place that has since changed.
Profile Image for Ali Al-sarraf.
3 reviews
October 13, 2012
If you are a food enthusiast and know Ferran Adria and his contribution in cooking. Then this book is a must to have in your cooking book collection. I have to say, its hard to make most of the recipes but it give you a hint that nothing is impossible in life. You only need the imagination and the spirit to break all the boundaries of creativity.
My favourite quote from the book "Ambition without patience is a dangerous thing."

Enjoy it.
Profile Image for Katie.
81 reviews103 followers
August 23, 2021
I’ll never get to experience the magic of elBulli, but that hasn’t made me any less of a fan. I’ve read plenty about Ferran and the famed restaurant, and this is by far the icing on the cake. A heavy book, it’s not one you buy for the recipes unless you have a setup that allows you to perform molecular gastronomy. Instead, I loved it for the photographs and little notes about how Ferran went about creating gastronomic magic.
Profile Image for Ned Stenger White.
56 reviews3 followers
September 22, 2011
gorgeously presented and literally VERY heavy, this book did make my head spin with the intricacies of these dishes and Ferran and crew's obsession with attention to detail. a sumptuous feast.

have cooked for a living for 25 years, i really enjoyed this, especially as its the closest i'll ever come to eating there. (fine dining would be a useful experience for the 'Brainstorm' machine!)
Profile Image for Ewan Henderson.
23 reviews1 follower
February 27, 2013
Do you ever finish a book like this? This is a masterpiece and with incredible precision the account and breakdown of the el bulli experience, every section is a new discovery. Its more a life's work of 80 chefs than a book, quite incredible.
2 reviews
March 2, 2021
I think it was a great book that let the reader get a feel of how El Bulli operates by showing through pictures rather than text the going ons of the restaurant.
The diagrams and points explaining Ferran’s creative process was wonderful and made me reflect on myself.
Profile Image for Pablo María Fernández.
324 reviews13 followers
July 11, 2022
Soy fan de elBulli. Comer ahí será mi sueño imposible (cerró en 2011) pero durante años admiré la innovación de sus platos y de sus procesos creativos. En YouTube hay un par de videos de Ferran Adrià dando charlas y entrevistas pero el formato oral no es donde más se luce (quizá su presentación en Google Talks sea de lo más rescatable). Leí artículos y blogs sobre él y su restaurant pero nunca había conseguido material para poder adentrarme más en profundidad. Por eso cuando vi en una librería este gigante amarillo con un título tan cautivante me llamó mucho la atención. Cerrado en celofán y a $12.000 (unos 60 dólares) no era una opción, pero lo conseguí usado en excelente condiciones a un cuarto de ese precio y lo compré.

Al principio tuvo miedo de haberme equivocado: muchas fotos y muy poco texto. De esos libros que sirven para decorar la mesa ratona de un living más diseñado para ser visto que para ser usado. Pero pronto me di cuenta de que no: toda esa cantidad de fotos (bien sacadas, movidas, repetitivas, artísticas, triviales) son como un mantra que te va transportando a esa geografía maravillosa donde funcionaba elBulli. Vivimos la experiencia a través de ellas: llegamos a esa región, nos adentramos en la naturaleza, el salón, los protagonistas de la obra (el chef, los cocineros, los camareros, los clientes), el taller de donde nacen los platos y todo el ritual desde que llegan los clientes, los saluda Adrià en la cocina y atraviesan los cuatro actos hasta la despedida. Espiamos las cocinas, vemos cómo se opera, vivimos la tensión que se siente al tener que servir 1.500 platos en tres o cuatro horas. Como deportistas de alto rendimiento se preparan, corren el sprint, discuten el resultado y dejan todo listo para repetir la proeza al día siguiente. Así durante medio año porque el otro está reservado para la investigación y la invención de platos. El formato del libro parece caprichoso pero funciona: hojas de texto más pequeñas intercaladas entre las fotografías nos cuentan la historia del lugar, la biografía de Adrià, el menú, los vinos, el plano de la construcción y una serie de detalles que enriquecen la comprensión del fenómeno. Lo que más disfruté son los Métodos creativos I, II y III en los que en pocos párrafos se explora el abordaje que realizan y que puede ser interesante para quienes ejercemos la creatividad en otros ámbitos. En contraste con mi preconcepto me llamó la atención lo sencillo del lugar (me imaginaba algo más lujoso) y el detrás de escena sin mucho glamour y parecido a lo que debe ser la realidad de muchos restaurantes (alguien yendo de compras todos los día a la Boquería y otros proveedores, otra persona encargada de las reservas y así nos va mostrando todo el andamiaje invisible pero necesario para que la magia ocurra).

En resumen, un hallazgo. Es un libro-objeto que luce pero que a la vez al abrirlo se transforma en Jumanji y nos transporta a otra década, a otro mundo y que como un buen plato nos entra por lo sensorial, lo emocional y lo intelectual.
Profile Image for Michelle.
102 reviews3 followers
December 23, 2020
Without the historical context and culinary importance of elBulli, the book is somewhat hard to understand and looking at it now it’s lost some of its majesty, but it represents such a massive scientific and culinary undertaking it has to be respected.
Profile Image for jess.
847 reviews72 followers
April 12, 2011
This is an oversized picture book with a lot of information from El Bulli, a restaurant in Spain, which also happens to be a hotbed of molecular gastronomy invention and experimentation. There are menus, recipes, ingredient descriptions. You can meet the staff and walk through a day at El Bulli. You can see the reservation process, and the guest's experience. There are huge, gorgeous photos of delectable, unimaginable food. The photos don't seem to match the descriptions. The food is otherworldly. It is from the future.

I feel torn about this book.

On one hand, I admire the training, technique, dedication and strangeness of the food that they produce at El Bulli. I am genuinely in awe of what they have accomplished and how far out of the box Ferran Adria's visions go. I'm amazed that this restaurant even exists, isolated in a rural area along the coast of Spain. They don't even have normal trash pick up or food deliveries, and yet the staff executes what appears to be extraordinary, surprising dining experiences six months of the year. I love the heights that craft can reach when dedicated, passionate people have the time and resources to devote themselves. It's remarkable.

At the same time: I would like for food and cooking to be simple and wholesome. I don't want to eat weird ingredients. I want to recognize my food. I would prefer if I recognized it as something I grew. I want everyone to feel like good, nutritious food is within their grasp, at their local fresh market or co-op, recipes that are ready in time for dinner after a long day of work instead of six months from now. This is one of the most important ideas I think about.

Ultimately there is a place of compromise, but it's messy. The El Bulli team loves local, fresh, in-season ingredients. They don't serve astronaut food. I just struggle to reconcile the high art of Food with the life-giving necessity of food. This Food is necessarily exclusive. The other food is, also necessarily, inclusive.

creative methods i
-traditional and local cuisines
-influences from other cuisines
-technique-concept search
-techniques and concepts applied to food

creative methods ii
-changes to the structure of the menu
-the search for new ingredients

creative methods iii
-the senses as a starting point
-the sixth sense
-symbiosis of the sweet and savoury worlds
-commercial food in high-end cuisine
-new ways of serving food
-changing the structure of the dish

where to find the sort of chemical agents central to this style of cooking (including many things you can't pronounce, grow, or source locally) http://www.tienda.com/food/texturas.html
493 reviews145 followers
January 24, 2019
An in depth look at one of the most famous restaurants in the world from the daily schedule to the scenery to the recipes. There is a brief biography of Adrià. Adria defines creativity as not copying and emphasizes how creativity is at the heart of ElBulli and its avant- garde approach to dining.
For the home cook, this book provides an opportunity to think about what type of cooking they want to pursue. Cookbooks generally allow us to copy but they can also be a key to creativity by opening up worlds not considered or explored. For curious cooks, this is an inspiration. For example, one page is devoted to different ways of chopping salsify and how those differences might lead to a new ay of using it. What other vegetables could be chopped differently?
Pictures are wide ranging and include scenery and many of Adria but the more useful are the pictures of his notes and recipes. About half the book is pictures and notes on how the meal gets ready from shopping to prepping. The second half are the recipes. Most people will never cook any of these, but seeing them on the page gives an idea of their complexity and the level of organization put into prepping the dishes and making sure they can be executed efficiently and successfully.
Throughout the book are small little booklets that are text heavy and explain the restaurant philosophy, its creative approach and a variety of factors about the entire experience.
While this isn’t really cookbook, many would find it interesting on the coffee table
Profile Image for Lori Ann.
289 reviews3 followers
October 11, 2008
This chef opens his restaurant (which, btw, is considered the best restaurant in the world) only 6 months a year so he can focus on inventing new cooking techniques during the other 6 months. I found learning about his creative process the most valuable part of the book. He seems to be both incredibly creative and massively disciplined--and I found it surprising to see both traits coming out so strongly in the same person. (If that's the secret to success, I'm in big trouble.) In any case, some of the techniques make me wonder what the point is. I understand he's figured out how to make olive oil into a solid, which he then winds into a spring, brings to diners, tells them to put it on their finger like a ring, then put it in their mouth, where it instantly dissolves into regular olive oil. Eh? But, bottom line is that if I could get reservations to this restaurant (virtually impossible--he gets 2 million requests each year for 8,000 seats), I'd STILL be there in a heartbeat out of curiosity!
Profile Image for Wayne.
101 reviews7 followers
February 9, 2009
Back in the late fall of 2008 I attended a discussion with Ferran and Harold McGee and this terrific lunatic of a bore Corby Kummer (who proceeded to direpect the Chef and try and derail the conversation the whole evening). That evening I found a new respect for his philosophy of creativity and food. Later in the month I actually sat down and read through all the narrative in the book and was impressed with the style and organization of his mind as well. There is a fire burning in this chef's mind that no mountain of ice could quell.

This book however beautiful, is mostly a gloriously huge coffee table book, and unless you have ample shelf space, I'd relegate it to a library reserve instead of an addition to your library.
Profile Image for Douglas Larson.
410 reviews18 followers
September 10, 2014
The author of this book is a famous chef in Spain and is regarded by some as the greatest chef in the world. Having read through some of his recipes, I would agree that his creative uses of food is certainly cutting edge and somewhat remarkable. But I have not tried any of this chef's recipes myself so I cannot speak directly to their quality or taste experience.

This cookbook, however, I found only slightly interesting. Some cookbooks, this one included, have tons of narrative about the evolution of the recipe or about methods of cooking. While I appreciate some information about that, I don't particularly like it in this quantity. Hence I gave this 1 star.

Profile Image for Simon.
747 reviews24 followers
November 24, 2008
A pretty exhaustive account of, as the title says, a day at elBulli. The photos alone are drool-inducing stuff for food porn addicts like myself, and the behind the scenes bits are interesting, although there's a fair amount of padding; do we really need a double page spread of a dozen photos of some guy opening the gate to the car park? But what really makes it worthwhile is the text explaining Adria's culinary philosophy and methods. For the moment this is going to have to do until I manage to successfully book a table (I've been trying for two years so far, without success).
Profile Image for Cara Byrne.
3,146 reviews18 followers
January 11, 2015
Not being well-versed in fine cuisine or twentieth century international contemporary art, I had never heard of Adria nor of his huge contributions to the world of food and experimental dining design, as well to linking the creativity of culinary arts to fine art. After seeing an exhibition on his drawings at MOCA Cleveland (http://www.mocacleveland.org/exhibiti...), I was interested in el Bulli -which is consistently named one of the best restaurants in the world - so this book was a great way to continue my education about his art.
426 reviews6 followers
January 31, 2011
His biography alluded to this but he is incredibly disciplined about his creativity, and this reinforces that. It's also amazing to see how much organization goes into running the restaurant and getting the dishes to all the tables. It's a nice overview of his day and some ideas/techniques used at the restaurant. There are also a few recipes but I don't think I'll be trying them any time soon.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
107 reviews6 followers
May 3, 2009
This book is fantastic. I am so awed by these chefs abilities to create. The techniques that they use, the techniques they create, is inspiring. It is much less a cookbook and much more a book about creative expression.
Now if I only had 200euro to eat there!
Profile Image for waits4thebus.
252 reviews
July 24, 2011
If I ever get the chance to eat here, this book would be very helpful to get a glimpse into just what went into the experience. Fascinating. but the recipes are useless unless I have an endless supply of gelling agents, a staff & a good liquid nitrogen supplier.
Profile Image for Ricardo Marcos.
23 reviews
April 13, 2013
As the title says, it is a book for people interested in knowing who a day at elBulli was, mostly with pictures and comments. There are some detailed descriptions inside the book too, but nothing too detailed. Interesting book.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 53 reviews

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