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Clean tech cooking: El Bulli goes green

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Last summer, the famous chef Ferran Adrià announced the closure of his world-renowned, Michelin-starred restaurant, El Bulli, which is to be transformed into a Centre for Creativity. As part of the remodelling, the restaurant located on Spain’s Costa Brava coast will be retrofitted with the latest in renewable energy and energy saving devices.

The Spanish daily, El Pais, has revealed that top chef Ferran Adrià is to turn to clean technology in an attempt to green his famous El Bulli restaurant, which is to close its doors on July 30 for extensive refurbishments.

While it appears Adrià will not reopen the restaurant to paid customers, the El Bulli organisation explains that the site will be converted into a Centre for Creativity: a “thinking area of creative cuisine and dining”, which will be managed through a private foundation.

Adrià has been at the cutting edge of cuisine for decades and El Bulli (Cala Montjoi, Catalonia) was considered the best restaurant in the world between 2004 and 2009. However, the culinary wizard is now looking to take his enterprise to another level by focusing even more on pushing the boundaries of cooking. At the same time, Adrià is keen to take advantage of the shift in direction to ensure his business is as green as possible.

Catalan architect, Enric Ruiz-Geli, will be the man charged with changing the face of El Bulli, said El Pais. Ruiz-Geli is not afraid of innovating himself. Indeed, one could say that he and Adrià were brought together by their interest in nitrogen: the first as a cooling agent for his futuristic Media-TIC building in Barcelona, and the latter to create dazzling new taste sensations in his kitchen.

Ruiz-Geli is now working on constructing new spaces on the Cala Montjoi site 177 kilometres north of Barcelona which will be totally sustainable. To this end, the architect started out by scanning the site using sensitive equipment to create a map of air and particle movements, which he then used to design the new culinary research and demonstration facilities.

Smart grid: a multi-system approach

Ruiz-Geli explains that the facilities will boast a smart grid, comprising solar panels, a ground source heat pump, micro-wind turbines and hydrogen batteries. “This means zero emissions,” he explains. “The Media-TIC building almost is, saving 92% of its energy, while in Europe there are only three zero emission buildings."

The architect has designed systems which will enable the existing El Bulli building to be powered using renewable energy generated on site, while the new buildings will be carbon neutral. Any excess energy generated will be stored in hydrogen batteries enabling it to be re-distributed at a later time. Meanwhile, rainwater will be collected and converted back into sea water to regenerate the water table, and energy will even be created using seaweed.

“The aim is to design architecture that is in tune with the environment… Green cities need to go down this route.,” says Ruiz-Geli, who refers to the latest book published by Jeremy Rifkin which talks about architecture no longer being the root of the problem and starting to become a solution.

The plans for the transformation of El Bulli will be presented at the gastronomic event, Madrid Fusion, on 25 January, while it is envisaged that the new centre will open its doors in 2014. According to El Pais, Ferran Adrià is “very excited with this innovative and sustainable project”, which he describes as “highly sociable”. “I want to give back to society everything I have received through what I can do,” he said.

In another interview with El Pais earlier this month, Adrià said that “mixing sex and cooking is complicated”. Given his ambitious plans to green El Bulli, it appears the chef does not feel the same about mixing clean energy and cooking. Time will tell if he is proved right.

For additional information:

El Bulli

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