I saw El Bulli: Cooking in Progress at the Film Forum today. If what I’m writing here is a review, a Dorothy Parker play review comes to mind: “Bring a book or knit.” I wish I had been one of the lucky ones to eat at El Bulli, and I am fascinated by the restaurant and restaurants who use the concept of molecular gastronomy. Therefore, I was going into the film with high interest for the subject matter. However, the film was, in a word, boring. I felt like I was REALLY watching people working, and I mean, working. The film opens with Ferran Adria sucking on a fluorescent fish lollipop. At that point, I was intrigued and thought there were some good things to come. Then the chefs are creating, through trial and error, some concoctions to show to Adria for the new menu (for the 2008-2009 season). From there, the film just gets boring. I’m not looking for the high drama of Hell’s Kitchen, but I was looking for the passion in Kings of Pastry. The highlight of the film is when Adria is explaining the menu to the new chefs. He tells them it is not so much about taste as it is about creating an emotional experience for the guest. Of course, I agree with this, as I often think words cannot express the layers of taste in food and how you feel when experiencing them. Eating at a restaurant like El Bulli is more than just eating. It is an experience. It was interesting to see how some of the food came about, but we really didn’t get much more than a glimpse into that. We did see how particular Adria is and how he will blatantly say something doesn’t work if it doesn’t work. I would’ve liked getting more of a portrait of him or the other chefs. I would’ve liked this movie to either be 1. more like A Matter of Taste and Kings of Pastry and get us into the heart of the chefs or 2. more like a Discovery channel documentary or Good Eats and get us more into the science of the food. But it was neither and, unfortunately, didn’t keep my attention, until the end, which I am going to spoil, when I could see photographs of the creations.
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