When renowned Catalan restaurant elBulli closed its doors in July 2011, it shocked the culinary world. After all, the waterfront eatery in Catalonia, Spain was widely considered the world’s best. The original plan was to close for two years, allowing chef Ferran Adrià time to collect his thoughts. But once he stepped back from the restaurant, he realized another dream: establishing the elBulli Foundation, an experimental center that will concentrate on the creativity and innovation of gastronomy, set to open in the former restaurant in 2014. And what better way to raise money for the organization than by auctioning off the acclaimed restaurant’s wine cellar alongside some priceless items?
Sotheby’s hosted the first part of the auction in Hong Kong on April 3, raising more than $1.8 million for the elBulli Foundation — surpassing the $1.1 million expectation. Wine collectors, foodies and fans of the elder chef Adrià will have another chance to snag some of the Catalan restaurant’s vino at the New York City auction on April 26. Over the two sales, 8,807 bottles will be offered. You can also bid on elBulli items such as cutlery, dishes, menus and even Ferran’s signed chef’s jackets that were used during the restaurant’s last year.
While the wine selection is impressive (some are labels made exclusively for elBulli), the biggest win is the evening with Ferran. It begins with a conversation about — what else? — gastronomy at elBulli Taller (the test kitchen where Ferran and his team created those legendary elBulli techniques and philosophy) and is followed by dinner for four with Ferran at his brother Albert’s Barcelona restaurant, Tickets. At the Hong Kong auction, this experience sold for $28,270; but who can really put a price tag on a night with the Adrià brothers?
Photos courtesy of the elBulli Foundation