Thursday, 9 August 2012

El Bulli to auction cellar at Sotheby’s

Gastronomes around the world wept in 2010 on hearing the news that Spanish pleasure dome El Bulli – voted the world’s best restaurant four years in a row – was to close its doors for good in 2011. Now comes the news via Wine-Searcher that the restaurant is to sell off its 10,000-bottle wine cellar at a Sotheby’s auction, though the auction house is remaining tight-lipped about details of the auction until further notice.

The three Michelin-starred restaurant near the town of roses, 160km north of Barcelona, closed its doors last July, having operated at a loss since 2000. It is set to re-open in 2014 as a culinary think tank, where former head chef Ferran Adrià, 50, will investigate and develop new cooking techniques.

The 139-page, 1,600-bin list features wines from classic regions like Bordeaux, Burgundy and Piedmont, alongside cult Californian wines, rare Sherries and Spanish icon wines such as L’Ermita, Pingus, and Vega Sicilia Unico. Compiled by Adrià's business partner Juli Soler, wines ranged in price from €21.40 to €5,350 for Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti 1999. Pétrus 2000 was also on the list for €3,745 a bottle. 

Voted the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine a record five times, El Bulli pushed the boundaries of contemporary cuisine for more than two decades with its off-the-wall dishes created using molecular gastronomy. Though its popularity came at a cost. With staff fielding more than two million reservation requests a year, the public pressures of running a restaurant influenced Adrià’s decision to close.

“When people bring up the issue of reservations, I have to give some kind of explanation. We created a monster and it was time to find a way to tame it,” he said on announcing the restaurant’s closure. The El Bulli Foundation will grant 20-25 scholarships annually for chefs to spend a year working with Adrià on new creations, the results of which results will be posted online.

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