MADRID - Spanish celebrity chef Ferran Adria is to reopen his once world-famous elBulli venture next year - but not serving food.
The former three-Michelin-star restaurant on the shores of Catalonia's Costa Brava, once considered the world's best for four years in a row, will instead house a laboratory and museum of culinary innovation, Adria told Reuters on Monday.
"The mission of 'elBulli1846' is ... to create quality knowledge of restaurant gastronomy and everything that surrounds it," the 56-year-old Catalan said before going on stage at the Madrid Fusion gastronomic congress.
The new number in the name is a tribute to Auguste Escoffier, the Frenchman dubbed the "king of chefs, chef to kings" who was born in 1846 and popularised haute cuisine.
Long after, Adria accomplished a similar feat with his molecular gastronomy mixing textures and flavors in the form of edible foams, papers or jellies, helping Spain compete with France in global culinary fame.
The original elBulli, named for a French bulldog owned by the German-Czech couple that built the place in 1961, shut eight years ago due to heavy losses despite its huge popularity.
With an investment of around 10 million euros (S$15.5 million) in 5,000 square meters (54,000 square feet), elBulli1846 is planned to open in February 2020 at the same cove on the north-eastern coast of Spain as the original restaurant.
Professionals will work there on how to innovate efficiently, be it in the big-league restaurant business or on a smaller scale, Adria said. The parallel museum will offer guided tours by prior appointment only.
"There'll be people saying that this won't work, but they used to say the same in the mid-1990s," said the fast-speaking Adria, whose recipes have sometimes been criticised as over-eccentric.