We recently went to the Museum of Science, here in Boston, to visit the temporary exhibit called Innovation of Art and Food. This exhibit, on exhibit through May 26, was about elBulli, legendary Spanish restaurant, and Chef Ferran Adrià, it’s head chef for 25 years. This showcased the history of elBulli as well as Adrià’s creative thought process in developing his signature cooking style and dishes.
Dr. Hans Schilling and his wife Marketa opened elBulli in 1964. It was recgonized for its haute cuisine in 1976 when it won its first Michelin star while under French chef Jean-Louis Neichel. In 1990 the restaurant gained its second Michelin Star, and in 1997 its third star, the highest Michelin Star rating.
elBulli served some 8,000 diners a year, but received more than two million requests for reservations. While it was extremely popular, ultimately the resturant did not suceed due to the high cost of operating it and that it was only opened for 6 months out of the year. The resturant closed in July of 2011.
After some training as a cook in the army, Ferran Adrià joined the kitchen staff of elBulli in 1984 as a line cook at the age of 22. Just eighteen months later he became the head chef. As the head chef, Adrià began to create his own techniques and styles of cooking to define elBulli. His leadership has lead in the kitchen allowed him to mentor many talented chefs who have set out to have their own successful careers as well. He was able to nuture this team as he created one of the most legendary resturants ever. Restaurant Magazine ranked elBulli to be Number One on its Top 50 list of the world’s best restaurants for a record five times—in 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
elBulli got its name from the owner’s French Bulldogs.
The characteristics of the classical cuisine served from 1983-1986, when Adrià and Chef Christian Lutaud ran the kitchen’s together. After this period the elBulli team began to completely generate their own dishes and recipes.
The menu from 1983.
It was fun to watch kids sit down at the table and pretend eat the meal that was served in front of them from a projector on the ceiling.
In the mid 1990′s Adrià developed a signature cooking style that was broken down in 23 points.
The team at elBulli photographed all the dishes they created through their development kitchens. Everything was extensively cataloged in large volumes.
My favorite photo of the day.
Various plates from elBulli are featured to show how the shape, material, color, texture of the plate the food was served on mattered in its presentation and feelings when it was consumed.
These photos only show a tiny fraction of the large exhibit that Stearns Hall. Adrià’s involvement in the development of products, advertisements, books, and exploratory kitchens are extensively featured in photos, statues, and even comics.
After the Innovation in the Art of Food exhibit we headed over to the Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture exhibit. This was the exhibit that left the greatest impact on me and I felt was more kid friendly.
This exhibit showcases how food greatly impacts our lives and how over time we have impacted the foods that we eat. We are all connected to different foods and that plays a part in our relationship with it and each other.
Large scale graphic banners provided a lot of information about food around the world. Including how the foods that we eat are really remarkable in the number of species and varieties there are, all while showing how that food is abundant in some areas and yet scarce in some other areas.
Oh no! Could we be running out of bananas?!?!
Since the beginning of farming we have altered foods to produce the biggest, most favorable fruits and vegetables. Sometimes these alterations have been beneficial for the food, but there are other times when this narrowing of the ‘gene pool’ has created problems when a natural predator, such as an insect or fungus, has started to effect the large-scale production of the foods that we base our diets on.
While you might typically cook with heat on your stove at home, there are some foods that are cooked without heat. Ceviche is fish cooked with acid, like lemon juice. And cured meats are cooked with salt and microbes as the meat is stored in cool places
Famous cookbooks, pots and pans, vegetables, grocery store staples from around the world are featured around the exhibit. You can learn was a family in China eats for breakfast, or what the favorite drink for a family in South Africa is, or how much the average 4 person family in Cambodia spends on food.
After we left the Our Global Kitchen exhibit we wandered around a bit visiting other exhibits. It’s always so much fun to stroll around checking out what is being featured, as well as the permanent exhibits.
Autumn’s first time being in Cambridge!
I could watch this kinetic sculpture for hours.
Be sure to check out the Innovation in the Art of Food, that is on exhibit through May 26, and the Our Global Kitchen exhibit as well.
Both were wonderful in their own ways. The elBulli exhibit is a bit more geared to an older audience but the Our Global Kitchen is enjoyable for every age to enjoy. Seeing both would make for a wonderful day for the whole family at the Museum of Science.
1 Science Park
Boston, MA 02114