Juli Soler, longtime partner and Ferran Adria's right hand at elBulli… (elBulli Foundation )
Sad news. Stefano Bonilli of the Italian gastronomy blog "Papero Giallo" cites a communication from the family of Juli Soler announcing that Ferran Adrià's right hand man at elBulli Foundation is retiring. It's just been discovered that Soler, 63, has a neuro-degenerative disease, and as a consequence, he is stepping down as executive director of elBulli Foundation in order to take care of his health.
Soler joined the young Adrià at elBulli in Catalonia, Spain, way back in 1981 when it was just a normal restaurant, not yet the world-famous experimental juggernaut it later became. It was widely considered one of the best, if not the best, restaurant in the world. ( Adrià closed ElBulli last year to the disappointment of the thousands who tried to get reservations before the end.)
Here's part of the elBulli Foundation's statement (any mistakes are due to my feeble translation): "The elBulli Foundation team, headed by Ferran Adrià, is and will always be at the side of Juli ... one of the people with the best knowledge of gastronomy in the world, director of elBulli since 1981 and universal reference for the dining room and the sommeliers.... Everyone at the foundation, of which Juli Soler will be president of honor permanently, feels obligated, now with more force than ever, to this new project that ... holds as one of its principal obligations to preserve his legacy and his work in the history of gastronomy."
The Foundation's website has one more thing to say about Soler: "elBulli, without Juli, would not be elBulli."
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-- S. Irene Virbila