Q&A: Reader has El Bulli reservation but needs help getting there

I’m writing to you with what I feel is fantastic news, but with a bit of a
twist. I’d love some advice, or better still your help.

Together with my wife and good friend, I was lucky enough to see Ferran Adria
speak late last year at the Arts Centre. We were inspired by his passion for
food and, as I’m sure countless audience members did that evening, the three of
us applied for a reservation at El Bulli for 2009. With 8,000 diners chosen from
2,000,000 applicants, it was a long shot but worth a try. To make things more
interesting, we made a bet that evening. Whoever gets in will be shouted by the
other two.

And guess what? I got in! I’ve won the bet and we have a table for three
waiting for us on August 10, 2009.

There’€™s one problem. (Here you must be thinking, what problem? I’ve got
no sympathy for you. You got the reservation!) Perhaps not a problem, but a
challenge. My wife and I have just had our first baby, we all have mortgages,
money’s tight… Hence the twist: we need to find a way to subsidise our trip,
to help us realise what will be a once-in-a-lifetime meal. To do this, we need
your help.

My wife Laura is a former winemaker, our friend Ashley is a landscape architect
and I’€™m an architect. What’s more, food and wine is in our
blood: Laura has relatives in the Veneto region of Italy at the foothills of
Montegrappa (complete with renowned soave and bread-making aunties) while I
have relatives in the Friuli region Of Italy in Udine (famous for its San
Danielle prosciutto). With our collective eye for design, fashion and culture,
plus our passion for food and wine, the three of us have much to offer

We need someone to see the potential in our culinary pilgrimage and see the value in
compensating us to do it. Surely there are articles that could be written on the three of us, reviews of the restaurant.
And after that? Gala openings, keys to the city? Who knows? To help us on
our way we’d just need a sponsor for flights and accommodation. Of
course, we’ll foot the bill for the restaurant but we just need someone
to help us get there. Could this be you?

Our culinary future is in your hands. I eagerly await your (what will,
I hope, be champagne-cork-popping) advice.

Andrew, Melbourne


  1. If you didn’t end up going how about making some good come of it and sending the associated costs of the would have been meal to oxfam or world vision so a starving family in a 3rd world country can eat for several weeks of months.

    Theres advice to pop a champagne cork (or drop a bucket into a communal water supply) to.

  2. just saw the predicament your in andrew
    im afraid i cant help though
    i am however flying to spain on the 9th of august!
    so your reservation will be perfect
    i was at a seminar today with one of the food scientists who works closely with el bulli and im dying to go
    i’ll tell you all about it!
    so what are the reservation details?

  3. Wow, I just found your blog and was about to bookmark it until I read this. Unbelievable.

  4. Love this thread… made my day…

  5. Err,
    I ordered a case of grange, but unfortunately my finances only stretched as far as to service the Porsche.

    If someone doesn’t mind paying for it, I’d be happy to tell them how fantastic it was when I finally pop the cork.

    Oh yeah, almost forgot. I’m a professional and…oh yeah.. I’m Italian. Since the Porsche is now serviced, I can pick the case up myself so as not to overburden y’all.


  6. You guys need to get hold of a copy of “The Secret”……if you want it bad enough!

  7. First or business??

  8. Dear Andrew,
    Great news! We stumbled upon your little call for help to realize the ultimate gastronomic dream by dining at El Bulli later in the year. You are no doubt deserving of such a lucky streak, after all you obviously shouldn’t settle for anything but the best. People like you, with your discerning eyes for design, fashion and culture, and your passion for food and wine, are the very thread that weave the blanket that warms us from the cold chilly reality that most will not have what they want or need in life.
    How inspiring that you forged ahead beyond logic and even applied for the reservation, knowing you could not afford the flights or accomodation, but acted on your heart, tastebuds and stomachs’ belief that you were the ones.
    But really, what is a meal? How good can it really be? Afterall it is eventually digested, the energy used, and excreted from the body. How good of you to see through this and wish to be immortalised in your culinary adventure by way of record. You truly are the one!
    Food and culture are so obviously in you blood that I can almost smell it from your email. Your relatives, and all who know you, must feel pride and joy just knowing you are alive, somewhere, eating and drinking and elevating yourselves to an unreachable level, far from the crowds of ordinary people.
    Of course you’ll foot the bill for the restaurant? Not you my friend, you are showing your ever humble side again. Your friends will be more than happy t o keep their end of the bargain and pay for you in exchange for you coming up with the flights and accomodation.
    One might argue that it is people like you (perhaps even you) that have put this world of ours into the economic spiral we are currently in. By biting off more than you can chew, taking too big a slice of pie, showing greed, envy and not seeing yourselves as equal has got us to where we are today. But you forge ahead.Oh you! Believe the illusion and wait for no-one! There are kings and there are servants…which are you?! (There are also jesters, unichs, etc).
    Well I think a celebration is in order! Could someone arrange a few nice bottles of Champagne- the good stuff, please- and top up the glasses of these noblemen. They are on a journey and soon on their way!
    Here is my advice to help get you there:
    Send your wife to work, sell your car, morgage the part of the house you have paid for, arrange to rent it out while you are away, find cheap accomodation on craigslist.com, write a voluntary article on your experience and give it to blogs and magazines, you should get the tip at the restaurant (afterall your friends are paying) and the waiters deserve it too.
    Expect to be out of pocket and no one to help you. It is your dream and passion, not anyone elses. What is important to you? I personally would find it just as thrilling to look on the El Bulli website and read about someone elses experience. Or you could recreate some=2 0dishes at your own dinner party. Well, there are different people in the world.
    What the hell, I give you a fiver and 50 ff points, just for being cheeky.

  9. Ed are you sure someone isn’t pulling your plonker? If not & it is a real request, what chutzpah, what front & WTF!
    Top Tip-Anyone soliciting this kind of sympathy ought not declare their line of work or that they have a mortgage, oh & I nearly gagged on this one, that food runs in their blood because his missus’s connection to the Veneto & his to Friuli, I mean how deluded!
    I tried to picture this brazen person but all I could come up with was a chinless College Tonk, with crevat & Claret stains on his lips cadgeing drinks in a pub somewhere.

  10. I’ll make this brief because it is difficult to type with blurred vision and a lump in my throat. Pay no attention to the other flint hearted posters, they can’t appreciate the grinding struggle of a young, petite bourgeoisie couple (+1) desperately trying to keep their modest, international foodie dream alive.

    But not me, I want to help in any way possible. For instance, recently I received a lovely email from a very respectable widow, presently on the Ivory Coast, who made me a rather attractive business offer. Andrew, just say the word and I’ll send the email address straight to Ed to forward on to you.

    Hope this helps get your cork popping.

  11. Ok now I’ve changed my knickers I will have another go at responding to your poor reader’s plight:

    need someone to see the potential in our culinary pilgrimage and see the value in compensating us to do it. Surely there are articles that could be written on the three of us, reviews of the restaurant.

    I think every food blogger out there would like to know how to get paid for writing about eating. You don’t give any credentials as being a writer and even then, it’s a tough market to break into.

    As a reader I really don’t know how interesting it would be to read an interview about your venture either. In this climate it just comes across as yuppy greed.

    So my suggestions are:

    If one of you drop out – auction the spot at the table for a new companion to join you. Considering how rare the seats are you should get a good price.

    And/or – use the skills you have to raise the money. You guys are all professionals!

  12. You’re serious right?
    Two professionals. An Architect, a Landscape Architect.
    Begging for a handout and Crying poor no less?
    (Though our taxes will probably provide you with a Plasma TV bonus-or in your case, a Ferran Andria bonus)

    Get your priorities sorted. It’s either the designer nappies (re-usable of course) and the fancy three wheeled pram so you look good on your walk to sip your latte’s, or a trip overseas

    We all make choices in life. You made yours.

    How about you actually OFFER something in return for the good will you are beggin for?

    Are you even the slightest bit embarassed or ashamed of yourselves?

  13. get a job

  14. Why don’t you use the $5000 baby bonus for the airfares.
    Good story to tell the kid when it grows up !

  15. I am going to be in the area around then, I will take the reservations off your hand and twitter every course 🙂

  16. LOL! I can guarantee this isn’t a April Fool’s joke – I posted after 6pm Australian time so the joke would be on me.

  17. “Where there’s a will there’s a way” – good on you for initiative 🙂

  18. LOL. Really, am going to wet myself I am laughing so much 🙂

  19. Ha ha ha. Whether it’s an April fools or not… good way to drive traffic to your blog.

  20. Is this an April Fool’s joke? You want people to subsidise your trip in exchange for a story about you three (and why would that be interesting?) and you’re not even offering a seat at dinner? So good of you to pay your own restaurant tab though, well done.

    Good luck.

  21. Don’t forget to report on the spaghetti trees while you’re there.