Juli Soler, who managed elBulli in its last, and most famous, three decades, has resigned from the position of co-director of elBulli Foundation due to an unspecified neurological disorder.
El País reports that he will remain honorary president of the culinary think tank replacing the seminal restaurant, which closed last year. Soler, a charismatic force who ran the front-of-house at elBulli beginning in 1981 and co-owned the restaurant beginning in 1990, was the man who gave Ferran Adrià a chance back in the eighties.
As Colman Andrews describes in his biography of the legendary chef, Ferran, Soler was more than just one of the best maître d's in the world: he was the restaurant's "reluctant financial manager, personnel wrangler, and detail man. Alter ego henchman, sounding board, and professional helpmeet to the world's greatest chef." In that text Andrews concluded, "Without Juli Soler, there would be no elBulli as we know it, and probably no Ferran Adrià."
In a phone conversation earlier today, Ferran Adrià described to Eater being shaken up by the news. "From 1984 to 1998, we didn't have money to pay the bills at the end of the month, and Juli was the man who made it possible for us to somehow remain open," said Adrià. "He not only allowed us to do avant-garde cooking — he pushed us to do it." The chef, however, assures that work continues to go smoothly in the development of the foundation, which is set to be completed a year from now. "The restaurant is about to enter what might be its most beautiful phase, and it's heartbreaking that Juli won't be a part of that. We need to make him proud."
Before entering the world of fine dining in 1980, Soler had bounced around the world of music, helping to open nightclubs and putting on DJ sets somewhat frequently; at one point, he ran a record shop. Soler has a particular reputation for worshipping the Rolling Stones, and at last year's Gastronomika, he accepted a lifetime achievement award to the sounds of that band's "Time Is On My Side."
· Juli Soler deja la codirección de elBulli Foundation [El País]
· All elBulli Coverage on Eater [-E-]