Formerly known as the world’s best restaurant before serving its last meal on July 30th 2011, El Bulli remains a mystery to many. Working there was really like being Charlie in The Chocolate Factory. The thought and effort that goes into creating a meal is absurd and what made the restaurant magic was the philosophy behind everything they did.
Let me share with you how every season at the famous restaurant began: the new team arrived in the morning, had a brief overview of the restaurant (the kitchen, the dining room and the gardens) and are introduced to the senior staff. We were then told to come at 8am the following day in jeans and t-shirts. We all arrived and the Chef explained that the job for the next 7 days would be gardening. If the gardening concept to the well-trained internationally selected chefs and service professionals wasn’t strange enough, we were asked to remove, wash, polish and place back one by one the thousands of beautiful river stones used to cover the garden. After this was explained we all looked at each other waiting for the hidden camera to appear but, sure enough, this was no joke. Why not just clean them quickly and throw them back? Questions like “What the hell are we doing?” were in everyone’s mind as none of us expected gardening and professional stone polishing the path to become a world-class cook or waiter, right? Wrong, the Jedi mind-training was in the message.
If on your first day you didn’t care about the garden or the stones or the thousands of little details that made El Bulli the best restaurant in the world, you certainly did by the time you left.
As a matter of fact all the big name chefs I have worked for have one thing in common: the smallest details done incorrectly result in the biggest possible punishments. The lesson is clear: notice the most basic of minute details because your customers do. Every day we apply this to Cuca and have become obsessed with the many small things that remind our guests where they are and why it’s different.