...Here, the untrained can puzzle over the first half of the film, a sort of unannotated laboratory ethnography, in which typically idiosyncratic El Bulli chef Ferran Adrià and his staff attempt to deconstruct and reconstruct some seemingly basic ingredients (tangerines, olive oil, pasta) in aggressively novel forms...
The visual representation of what we eat and the processes by which it’s been made has drifted so far from the El Bulli laboratory. The Food Network, for instance, is all action and personality. It’s distinctly Hollywood. The movie reconsiders cooking according to the concerns of certain European art-house existentialism: What is this sweet potato? Adrià knows. It can be anything.
Director Gereon Wetzel employs classical observational techniques to compose a compelling if understructured portrait of the business of creativity in the medium of food. Viewers may get no closer to understanding Adrià’s intentions, or his taste buds, but the penultimate sequence, in which the chef sits alone in El Bulli’s busy kitchen, eating all 35 dishes created for that season’s menu (the last before the restaurant transforms into a culinary academy), inspires both wonder and melancholy.