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Movie review: El Bulli: Cooking in Progress

The Foodie Film Feastival at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art will begin with a documentary that captures chef Ferran Adria as he conjures a menu for his iconic restaurant, El Bulli.
by Dave Cathey Published: September 14, 2011

We go from conception to service at El Bulli. Hazelnut oil, salt, and water? That's a cocktail. Freeze-dried peppermint and ice shavings? Dessert is served. In Adria's kitchen, mushrooms make water, sweet potatoes produce meringue and pasta is meant to vanish. But everything must be delicious and perfect.

This is a film for gourmands — foodies, before the term existed. I expect any and every chef with a shred of ambition will be in attendance to see how the guy at the top of the pyramid conducts himself. Anthony Bourdain filmed two episodes with Adria, once several years ago, and then again just before the restaurant closed. But this film is much more intimate. Adria's methods are chronicled in painstaking detail, just as the menu at El Bulli was developed.

The camera captures Adria's palpable genius. His brow rises and falls, eyes broaden and narrow, hands rise and fall, fingers twirl and point and his body rocks and reels as words spill from his mouth. Passion fills the kitchen and ultimately works as an aromatic to each dish.

Whether you were fortunate enough to eat at El Bulli, Wetzel's documentary will embolden your belief in magic and your desire to taste it.