The funnel method at elBulli

At the source, nothing is impossible. The only limit, in any case, is set at what is not “realistic”. Madness leads you nowhere. But what is impossible today could be viable. A hot ice cream defies logic. Nobody knows how to do it… Until they find the formula.

Unanswered proposals fall within the realm of the realistic. The formula is still unknown, but it is only a matter of time before we find the technology, or invent it if none exists.

The process of invention takes the shape of a funnel. From the first drawing on paper it passes into the kitchen. This is the testing ground. That’s where the process of trial and error begins. The dish starts taking shape after a lot of research and hundreds of tweaks. It cannot be placed on the menu until it is considered perfect. When it is, it enters the dining room. The diner tries it and finishes its preparation.A little salt, a touch more mustard or the decision to cut the meat into thin or thick pieces is the last contribution to the dish, and this is always the prerogative of whoever eats it.That is where the absolute control that the restaurant has over a dish disappears.

Turning an idea into a dish narrows the scope of action. The opening of the mind leads to the reification of the product. Now some specific ingredients come into it: a technology, a way of cooking them and a way of organising the agents so that the dish is perfect when it arrives at the table.Here, everything is measured, timed and organised with Japanese-like rigour.

The order, method and organisation make all the parts come together perfectly. Not a minute should be wasted on tasks that are not the cooking itself and the service in the dining room. This is why places are assigned where the 50 agents eat. This is why every day they knew who set out the cutlery and who cleared away the glasses.

What began as absolute uncertainty became a technology with Swiss precision. In creativity there is no place for tradition or inertia. In production there is no place for chaos. Innovation at elBulli was funnel-shaped.