Earlier today at the Wired UK conference in London, England, Ferran Adrià unveiled the BulliPedia, which he and his collaborators at telecom giant Telefónica are calling the "world's first culinary Wiki." A press release announces that La BulliPedia is to contain "every bit of gastronomic knowledge ever uncovered."
In a phone conversation earlier today, Ferran Adrià told Eater that "this is the project of crazy people, and it will take years and years to fully build." That being said, the domain is live already, the video preview below will post there tomorrow, and in two months, Adrià plans to open up the website to colleagues like Grant Achatz, Heston Blumenthal, and Joan Roca so that they can offer their feedback before the project enters its final stages of development. "The goal is to have the site totally up and running by the end of 2014," says Adrià.
Video: La BulliPedia Preview
Adrià first announced the project back in March. The site is to serve as one of the crucial underpinnings of elBulli Foundation, the culinary think tank and R+D facility that will open in 2014, replacing the chef's now-shuttered restaurant in Cala Montjoi, Spain. Adrià has long spoken of the importance of sharing his findings, something that he for years achieved through demoing around the world, meticulously and scientifically documenting his work, and putting out exhaustive volumes on the dishes at elBulli. But the foundation, through the BulliPedia, will post its work online on a daily basis.
As the video above shows, the site is broken up into two areas. In addition to including the daily findings of the elBulli team and information on advancements in contemporary gastronomy ("Creativity Today" section), the site will have a section, "The Creativity Archive," which will contain "a map, a codification" of the last fifty years of western haute gastronomy.
The Spanish announcement of the project touches on a crucial argument for its existence. It speaks of major shifts in gastronomy over the last two decades: the rise of tasting menus, the development of auteurist chefs around the globe, the blurring between the worlds of sweet and savory, and in general, a new vocabulary for cuisine. It concludes that a chronological ordering of cuisine, of its techniques and concepts, could become just as valuable as one that relies primarily on recipes.
Moreover, Adrià argues that the internet can be an endless source of information, but that that information usually isn't codified. "You can search for white asparagus online, and thousands and thousands of articles and recipes will come up," says the chef. "But none of it is organized together." The BulliPedia aims to solve that problem. Click on white asparagus on the BulliPedia, and a sea of recipes, flavor combinations, and seasonal and historical information on the product will immediately be at the user's disposal. You can also start your search by focusing on a particular technology, preparation, or time period, and seeing where that takes you.
Why update the site daily? Why aim, in almost ridiculous fashion, to include every bit of knowledge on gastronomy? It'll help the team at the foundation, but another important motivator, according to Adrià, is so that restaurants and chefs that don't have the time or the resources to investigate can use it as an easy-to-access R+D resource. So, too, should it be valuable to culinary students (another one of Adrià's recent preoccupations is the chefs of tomorrow), as the images of classrooms in the video would suggest. It's no mystery, then, that Adrià has tapped the University of Barcelona to be the principal coordinator of the project.
Telefónica describes the BulliPedia as having the potential to create "a network for information sharing, collaboration, and discussion on where innovation can happen next." Users will be able to gain access to the site for a small fee that's to be determined. "It'll cost less than a book," says the chef.
Here's a fact sheet on the project:
· Why we've embraced the world of haute cuisine [Telefónica]
· All Ferran Adrià Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· BulliPedia: una nueva codificación de la alta cocina en Internet [Telefónica]
· All La BulliPedia Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All elBulli Coverage on Eater [-E-]