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Oct 11, 2011 07:11 AM

el bulli documentary?

Anyone know if the el bulli documentary has already passed through San Francisco or is upcoming? Poked around online and couldn't find info on it. Thanks.
Ugh - apologies.

Landmark Embarcadero Center Cinema -- November 11th – 17th

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  1. It was at the Castro last night with Adria in person. Also playing in St. Helena next week.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Adria showed a few clips as part of his talk, but they didn't show the entire 108 minute film. He spoke about his philosophy on creativity, the plans for the institute that will replace El Bulli, and his home cooking book. The latter contains 31 3-course staff meals for El Bulli, and are appropriate for home cooks looking to make meals that take from 30 minutes to ~2 hours.

      Here's the NorCal documentary schedule:
      Cameo Cinema St. Helena CA October 19th- 21st
      Landmark Embarcadero Center Cinema San Francisco CA November 11th-17th
      Landmark Shattuck Cinemas Berkeley CA November 11th-17th
      Sonoma Film Institute Rohnert Park CA November 18th-20th

      1. re: hyperbowler

        what did you feel about his appearance? I enjoyed him speaking of conceptualizing food, not just being the first at "inventing" it - as in, the first person who invented the omelet - probably an accident. after that, there have been a million ways to conceptualize the idea of an omelet. However, i felt I didn't hear much that i hadn't heard before about him, about el bulli and/or the institute in particular, and about the culinary arts in general. I kind of felt that it was mostly about selling the new book - and there's nothing wrong with that. My sister who was there with me bought it, i haven't had a chance to look thru it. I enjoyed the video clips, and his obvious passion for his work - the message was akin to Steve Jobs' that we heard so much last week - again, nothing wrong with that - do what you love. He talked about people using the excuse that they're too busy to cook., and that anyone who spent a couple of weeks learning the basics could make the dishes in his home cooking book. He is definitely an inspirational iconoclast. I don't know what i expected, but i left feeling like something was missing. I'm curious to see what other Bay Area CHers thought of the night.

        1. re: mariacarmen

          I was there as well, and I also felt a vague sense that something was missing. I think part of it was having to rely on the on-the-fly translation of his talk (as my own Spanish is far from adequate to the task); the translator seemed to do a good-enough job, but I think some of the impact was lost by having his words filtered thru another person, so to speak. I thumbed thru the book, and the recipes seemed pretty accessible, and apart from 1 or 2 desserts that employed a foaming canister, fairly free of the gadgetry or other exotica that one normally associates with Chef Adria. I would take a bit of issue with his assertion that the book's concept (a cookbook of restaurant staff meals recipes) is all that novel - as I seem to recall, the dearly-departed NY Tribeca restaurant Chanterelle published a cookbook of staff meals several years ago.

          1. re: Spatlese

            I think what was missing were some tastes of his food!
            I felt the same vague sense (even though my Spanish is fine). I have watched other video of him and enjoyed it more, not sure what exactly it was. Maybe it was the fact that he has elevated and expanded food and cooking so much, and now he is bringing it back to the simplest parts. Maybe my expectations were off (although I had read what the whole premise of this was).
            I enjoyed it, and the book has unique features that I will be able to use (even though neither of the people will eat fish or many of the ingredients used. I love them!)

            1. re: Spatlese

              i agree - the second hand speechifying thru a translator didn't help - and i do speak/understand Spanish, but you're right about the filter.

            2. re: mariacarmen

              I know very little about modernist cuisine, so for me it was a comprehensive crash course. But I can see what you mean about not hearing anything new. Any speaker addressing a crowd that large has to expand on their background for newbies.

              I agree that something was missing and that the language barrier was tough. He really didn't integrate the sections on creativity, the future of his institute, and the simple cooking promoted by his book. I would have preferred a more fluid talk.

              His ideas about creativity in food made a lot of sense, and are pretty consistent with standard theories of creativity. He seemed to argue that the top of a pyramid of cuisine are people who recognize that a novel combination is important and fits, or rebels against, the zeitgeist. Who made the novel combination doesn't matter, what matters is the person for conceptualizes/contextualized the innovation. It's all in the marketing! Underneath, thousands of versions of a dish are tested, and via natural selection, the best versions of the dish elevate to standard recipes that are replicated by chef & home cooks. I would have liked him to address how someone becomes an innovator at the top, or to talk more about how breadth and depth of knowledge contribute to creativity. For example, he claimed that he knows nothing about cooking because, after all, it would take someone several lifetimes to even know everything about the 2000+ varieties of citrus fruit. I don't agree with his point. Isn't that what an encyclopedia is for? That breadth of knowledge isn't very useful unless one can extract generalities, and apply them in novel ways.

              I found it hilarious that his discussion of humility was accompanied by a "Space Oddity" themed video analogizing his work to the moon landing.

              I looked through the book last night, and I really liked its approach. The timeline and separation of ingredients into pantry and shopping items really lend themselves toward a manageable system for quick dinners. To make it accessible, you have to freeze a bunch of items like pesto, tomato sauce, and broth, but he's pretty realistic about you buying these products in a pinch. Well, for most of the items... as Mark Bittman pointed out, sofrito and squid ink aren't kitchen staples in the US, but they hardly make up the bulk of the book. Only a few desserts require non-standard equipment, and even when they do, he offers alternative methods (e.g., using the same ingredients to make whipped cream or ice cream instead of a foam). In terms of things that excite people in the Bay Area, few of the recipes depend on seasonal produce, and not one of the 31 main dishes is vegetarian. Overall, I'm looking forward to using this book for quick dinners... for those at least, I don't mind being at the bottom of the pyramid.

              1. re: hyperbowler

                yes! i'd forgotten about the Bowie song, that was great.

                and yes, fluidity was missing. it was more like an impromptu conversation as opposed to a planned speech, and maybe that's just the way his mind works.

                My sister made the same comment about how helpful it will be to have the timelines set out.

        2. A bit unrelated, but if you're looking for a fun food-related film, Toast is opening in Berkeley and San Francisco this weekend.

          1. There's more Adria (and Achatz) here on the Harvard Public Lecture Series: