Spain's elBulli restaurant to become 'creative laboratory'

World-renowned Spanish chef Ferran Adria has linked up with telecommunications giant Telefonica to transform his emblematic restaurant elBulli into a "creative laboratory," the group said.

The four-year deal also involves organising training courses and conferences in several major cities, including Miami, New York, London, Buenos Aires, Berlin, Mexico, Madrid and Barcelona, it said in a statement released late on Tuesday.

"One of the most spectacular activities as part of this agreement will be Telefonica's support in the transformation of elBulli.., which will reopen its doors in 2014 transformed into a totally different space."

elBulli, on Spain's northeastern Catalan coast, last year came top of the World's 50 Best Restaurants list for the fourth year in a row following a poll of more than 800 chefs, restaurant critics and industry insiders for Britain's Restaurant Magazine.

However this year it slipped to number two behind the Noma restaurant in Copenhagen.

But Adria announced earlier this year that the eatery is to close in 2012 and then reopen as a non-profit foundation in 2014.

The deal with Telefonica represents "the first funds for the foundation, for which we are still looking for money," Adria told the Spanish business newspaper Expansion published Wednesday.

He said future creations at elBulli would now be "broadcast in real time" on the Internet.

A Telefonica executive, Luis Abril, said the deal "will allow us to make the new 'elBulli' into the best creative laboratory in the world, combining innovation and new technologies in communications and knowledge."

Adria and British chef Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck outside London have since the late 1990s rocked the world of gastronomy by using science to "deconstruct" and rebuild food in what has been termed "molecular cuisine."

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