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A Night With elBulli and Dom Perignon

ferran adria el bulli founder portait nik thakkar

Last night I was privy to the most profound and beautifully curated immersive experience in Barcelona courtesy of chef extraordinaire Ferran Adria of elBulli and powerhouse Dom Perignon. It is close to impossible to convey the experience in words, as the understanding and philosophy of the experience lends itself to amplify only in situ.

It’s a known fact that Ferran Adria is a culinary genius – and falls nothing short of being the most innovative and articulate chefs that humanity has ever experienced. His philosophy has broken boundaries and caused a global ripple effect due to his pioneering nature.

The relationship between Ferran and Dom Perignon’s Chef de Cave (a pioneer in his own right) Richard Geoffroy is something of a beautifully nurtured creative understanding and this experience has brought this to life through poetry, cuisine, sonic tendencies, lighting and emotion that hold power, integrity and futurism at the forefront.

Now to the detail. The duo insists that “creativity is a process of our minds that can be tamed and taught”, heralding out-of-the-box thinking, breaking away from established patterns and letting go of certainties which has resulted in Dom Perignon Decoding – a three year journey to elevate the Dom Perignon experience and understand the brand.

We spent a two hours with the pair discussing the above and teasing the somewhat climactic dinner that is “not a dinner”. We discussed Sapiens – the El Bulli philosophy, the power of creation and even the analogy of what a tomato truly is. This all took place within the elBullifoundation in Monjuic, Barcelona – a creative hub where intellectuals and creators with backgrounds at Harvard, MIT and Oxford have come together to develop the methodology.

Above is a photograph where I captured Ferran discussing his immense and intense mission to create and innovate through the language of cuisine and leave his lasting legacy upon society.

This lead us seamlessly onto the experience – a dinner that is “not a dinner”. We were silently lead into a room, pitch black but beautifully constructed with individual tables hosting nothing other than the new bottle of 2005 vintage Dom Perignon. It was Eyes Wide Shut but with Dom Perignon as your lover. Partitions descended leaving you alone with the vintage, an intimate and sensual solo tasting revealing your lover’s true intensity and silvery minerality, brooding sounds and demure lighting.

Solo tasting Dom Pérignon 2005 set up to This is Not a Dinner 1

We were then swiftly escorted to what appeared to be a private dining room which subsequently evolved to a shared space with different sonic, poetic and visual experiences throughout the night – a luxury ritual and gastronomic event where Ferran created 29 courses, yes 29 unique snacks served one by one to allow you to relish and showcase multi-faceted complexity in the smallest form.

Highlights included a tomato and olive oil airbag, a deconstructed beetroot macaroon, shard of sugar glass with savory vegetables, raspberry and wasabi with vinegar oil and a three tier Japanese set of delicacies. Each and every bite complimented with the vintage to accentuate, cleanse and compliment.

It was incredible to that there were 50 people actively hosting a culinary adventure for a mere 40 guests – the passion and unquestionable luxury integrity that went into to making this into an unforgettable experience comes from the heart of the pioneering pair behind the concept – something that other luxury brands can only imagine replicating.

The experience also acts as a commentary on what luxury truly means today. What Ferran Adria has created goes far beyond the concept of immersion and luxury dining, it elevates every stage of the experience to ensure that the purity and rarity of what your palate experiences is unique not only to you and those you are with but something that is impossibly to replicate on a commercial scale.

This was nothing short of genius, no small feat and something I was honoured to be a part of. It was the first time that Ferran Adria put his chef whites on since closing the restaurant and now an abridged version can be experienced in London this May – albeit on a smaller scale. So make sure to stay up to date with Dom Perignon via www.domperignon.com, and I took some great photos of Barcelona’s W Hotel which can be seen on my Instagram @nikthakkar






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