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El Bulli: Cooking in Progress on Astini News

The restaurant is a house of haute architecture nestled among the rocks and stones of the Spanish coastal town of Roses. It typically feeds about 8,000 people during the six months it's operating. But in some years, as many as 2 million people have tried to get in. The restaurant began in the early 1960s. Its current chef, the Catalan Ferran Adrià, arrived in the 1980s, won the restaurant two of its three Michelin stars, then won himself a kind of international pop-intellectual fame akin to that of Steve Jobs or Frank Gehry. Adrià helped change the world's understanding of how else food could taste.

In July, the restaurant closed. In 2014, Adrià will reopen it as the gastronomical think tank that Wetzel's movie already believes it to be. The movie, which opens tomorrow at the Museum of Fine Arts, shows that Adrià conceives his menus the way some fashion designers build collections: from a single idea. We catch him in what he calls his year of water.

Wetzel and his crew watch with absurd patience as Adrià's staff perform experiments in a Barcelona laboratory, then take those experiments south to the restaurant. They chart, diagram, post, and photograph their work. Adrià arrives in chef's whites to deliver verdicts. We can see science at work. But it's vague, since we can't know every additive and gadget. We also can't know how any of the trials taste. It's a lot of process for us, yet not too much for us to process.

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