Ferran Adrià wants you—if you’re in business school—to figure out how to pay for his El Bulli Foundation
Ferran Adrià—the world’s greatest chef at what was the world’s greatest restaurant—is reaching out to the world’s greatest MBA students to ensure his new El Bulli Foundation—the world’s greatest experimental food research institute, natch—stays solvent. The 49-year-old Catalan alchemist has tasked the brightest from Columbia, Harvard, Berkley, Barcelona’s ESADE and the London Business School to compete to find an innovative business model for the prospective foundation, which launches in 2014.
The competition will apparently be judged in June by a “top-ranked” jury, including Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. There’s no prize as far as we can tell, and perhaps not even a single winner—Adrià plans to integrate elements of different models into his own, making the whole contest sound a little like some pro-bono consulting. “It’s a discipline where there cannot be R&D,” Adrià said during a presentation at ESADE. “Restaurants do not have the financial capacity to have R&D.” The El Bulli Foundation is intended to fill that need, allowing chefs to experiment and research with gleeful abandon. Adrià has teamed up with Spanish mega-corp Telefónica to front the necessary technology for this venture (although what such an august institute might need from a telecommunications company, we haven’t a clue).
Whatever the source, Adrià is going to need a damn good plan and some serious cash to see his vision get off the ground. The current pipe dream scheme is comprised of an “Ideario,” or creative centre, made up of five rooms that look like transparent Hershey’s Kisses caught in a fishing net (no, really), as well as a digital archive building, the most earth-friendly park on the planet and indeed a whole “eco-neighbourhood,” meant to imitate coral life. Oh, and employees will apparently show up to work in electric cars. According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Adrià and his partners are sinking €600,000 to €800,000 into this project. While we’re not Harvard MBA students, we do have an idea or two on how to keep the El Bulli Foundation solvent: cut back a little on all the gold leaf, liquid nitrogen and black truffle.
• El Bulli chef serves up business competition [The Financial]
• El Bulli for you: Ferran Adrià now caters for a mass market [The Guardian]
• Ferran Adria, father of molecular gastronomy, whips up ‘idea center’ for world [Daily Inquirer]