El Bulli for you: restaurant sells its secrets to the masses

It would take El Bulli, the Spanish restaurant that is regularly voted the world's best, 125 years to get through its reservations backlog for this year alone. But for foodies desperate to sample its pioneering molecular gastronomy, help is at hand.

For its chef, Ferran Adria, has distilled his secrets into a new range of ingredients that could make horseradish foams as much a staple of British Sunday lunches as overcooked roast beef and soggy Yorkshire puddings.

An East Anglia-based company has become the first in the UK to sell a line of natural food derivatives created by Ferran Adria and his brother Albert. The range, which was cooked up in the El Bulli laboratory in Barcelona, is initially on sale to the catering trade and that means even mediocre pub chefs can emulate the brilliance of Mr Adria. With tins of ingredients with wacky names such as Lecite, Algin, Kappa and Metil, cooks can create sizzling fruit jellies, spaghettis for the gluten intolerant made of pureed vegetables and water, and the solid cocktails that are El Bulli's trademark.

John Jackaman, of Infusions, which has the British rights to the El Bulli line, said: "The undisputed best chef is giving up his secrets. The beauty is it is actually very simple to reproduce much of what to many of us is unattainable - tasting the food of El Bulli."

One popular recipe is melon caviar, made using melon juice, water, two of the powders - which have been given the brand name Texturas - and a process called spherification. "It looks like tins of golden caviar. It pops like caviar when you bite into it but has a fantastic melon flavour," Mr Jackaman, 34, said. Another is a lime air that "looks like shaving foam on a plate and can be used to refresh the palate between courses".

Foams are the hottest craze to sweep professional kitchens as chefs seek to emulate Mr Adria and his British counterpart and friend Heston Blumenthal, whose Fat Duck restaurant vies with El Bulli for the top spot in the global culinary charts. Mr Blumenthal's latest menu features an oyster foam meant to represent "the mist above the waves". Proponents include Nuno Mendes, who runs the Bacchus restaurant in Hoxton, north London and Tony Flinn, of Anthony's Restaurant in Leeds. Mr Flinn's top dish is a white onion risotto with a parmesan air. "There's nothing better than finding something new to play with because without new ingredients to create new dishes you are just doing new versions of old ones," he said.

Mr Blumenthal aside, the "cappuccino" toppings made using carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are failing to curry favour with many food critics, who are unimpressed by "chemistry" cookery. A A Gill warned recently that too many restaurants were choosing froth over substance.

Amateur chefs need have no such qualms, however, and this Christmas they too may get the chance to whip up some culinary alchemy. Mr Jackaman has plans to launch a Texturas gift pack, which he hopes Harrods and Fortnum & Mason will stock. The Texturas range is the closest Mr Adria has come to sharing the DNA of his dishes, which have more than a million people every year clamouring for one of the 50 seats in his restaurant in north-east Spain. El Bulli is open for six months a year and is booked up through 2008.

Although there are a number of El Bulli recipe books, Mr Adria has always stopped short of divulging his full techniques.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat