UPDATE 19 October 2007: From El Bulli: "The restaurant is fully booked for our season 2008. All the reservations are confirmed and we do not have more available options. It is impossible for us to have a waiting list but we will be at your disposal to revise if cancellations are produced when we confirm all the reservations 10 days in advance." The reservations page has also been updated with a calendar. The first day of service will be 02 April. The last day will be 05 October.
Three years ago Luis Garcia and I drove from Roses to a castle in Tarragona, Spain for Oriol Castro's wedding - or rather Luis drove, chain smoked, and sang along baritone to Spanish ballads on the radio while I dozed. He's in charge of reservations and director of the dining room at El Bulli. I'd just finished my stage and volunteered to cook some of the restaurant's signature dishes for the wedding reception with about a dozen other chefs. Oriol was one of two sous-chefs and now works with Albert Adrià at El Taller. Albert is the pastry chef, Ferran Adrià's younger brother, head of El Taller (El Bulli's creative workshop), and chef/owner of Bar Inopia in Barcelona. If you've read this far Ferran needs no introduction.
Luis picked me up at 5:00 a.m. in front the stagiaire apartment overlooking Plaça Llevant. My first nights there I slept in an upper bunk above Charles-Antoine Crête, Chef de Cuisine at Toqué in Montreal in a bedroom only slightly wider than the twin-sized beds themselves. I shared the three bedroom apartment with two to five cooks, a food runner, as well as occasional drunken friends and one-night stands. Is it any wonder I can sleep through anything?
On the ride Luis and I talked about the reservations process. He said that the only solution they could see to the impossible demand was to close the restaurant. He was surprised that few people visited the El Bulli Hotel in Sevilla where the restaurant serves El Bulli's greatest hits and Ferran can often be found off-season. I imagine him there in t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops happily entertaining guests with his lovely wife, Isabel Perez.
I was surprised that no one had shared the reservations details before. They weren't even on the restaurant's website. I first did so in 2004 and again in 2005. I thought by last year everyone would know. Evidently not because I still get desperate emails. So this year, I'll remind you again: it's that time.
If you'd like a reservation at El Bulli next year, then send an email now to firstname.lastname@example.org. Simply state your desired dates and number in your party. Remember to include your name, email address, and telephone number. The restaurant is open from April until the end of September/beginning of October, Wednesday to Saturday, for dinner. It's open for lunch in April, May, and June on Sunday only.
I didn't hear back about my 2007 reservation until just before Christmas 2006. After three years of trying, I got a table for eight on September 19, 2007. Because of family health reasons, I did not go.
But in a twist of fate I was asked to judge Iron Chef America on that very same date.
Good luck to you. Please don't call the restaurant. By this time I hope Luis has turned off the phone - and the only sound he hears are beloved Latin love songs.