April 25, 2013 / 8:34 PM / 6 years ago

ElBulli auctions culinary past to build its future

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Food lovers who never ate at elBulli, the now-closed, Michelin three-star restaurant in Catalonia, have a chance to buy a piece of the famed Spanish restaurant and dinner with its head chef, Ferran Adria, at an auction to be held by Sotheby’s on Friday.

World-renowned Spanish chef Ferran Adria poses for photographers before the presentation of his latest book "The Family Meal" in Madrid November 14, 2011. REUTERS/Susana Vera

The New York auction of 625 lots that include trays, cutlery, wine and dinner with Adria is estimated to net up to $768,000, a Sotheby’s spokesman said.

Proceeds from this auction and one conducted in Hong Kong earlier this month where $1.8 million was raised will be used to transform elBulli, once the home of molecular gastronomy - an avant-garde, haute cuisine - to a space that will double as food museum and a “creativity” center.

“The mission is not only for the kitchen world, but for the creativity world,” Adria told Reuters through an interpreter.

The elBulli Foundation is set to open in 2014, where Adria expects to attract 100,000 visitors a year.

The foundation will eventually serve dinners, overseen by Adria, perhaps 20 times a year. Ten of them could be made available to the public possibly in 2016 and become the “most demanded dinner in the world,” he said.

At its peak, elBulli, which was opened only part of the year and accommodated about 7,000 diners, received 2 million requests for reservations annually. Adria closed the restaurant in July 2011.

Among the trays, cutleries and other elBulli memorabilia offered at Friday’s auction, the items that generate the strongest bidding will likely be the bottles of rare and prestigious Spanish and French wines, and a dinner with Adria.

“It’s part of the transformation. We will not need to (have a) wine cellar,” Adria said. “Those wines have been with us for many years. They will be sold for a happy end.”

Meanwhile, the dinner up for bids with the 50-year-old chef will take place at Tickets, a restaurant in Barcelona which he runs with his brother Albert.

In Hong Kong, such a dinner for four fetched $23,000.

Adria promised it would be more than just a meal with him. He will not be cooking. Instead, it will be “an experience” that might include shopping with him at the Boqueria market in Barcelona.

Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz

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