Whilst many will not know the name of Juli Soler; he was more instrumental to shaping the gastronomic future than many had done in the past, or likely to in the future.
Whilst most of his life, pre-El Bulli, would not indicate what Adria & Soler went on to create, there is no doubting it was a partnership which produced something exceptional. The El Bulli story with Soler starts in 1981 when he took charge of the management of Hacienda El Bulli, swiftly changing it to Restaurant El Bulli.
In 1984 Soler hired a young Adria, and by 1987 he was heading up the kitchen. By 1990 the move was paying dividends, with the award of a 2nd Michelin star and a 3rd by 1997.
1990 was also the year when Adria & Soler purchased their shares of El Bulli, with the aim of taking the brand to the global stage. This was partially facilitated by selling 20% of the company to to Miquel Horta (a Spanish millionaire and philanthropist and son of the founder of Nenuco) for 120 million pesetas. The money was re-invested back into the restaurant, & the new investor opened the door to new custom.
When El Bulli shut its doors on 31st July 2011, Soler joined forces with Adria again to form the El Bulli Foundation. The intent was to continue the research & development work that had form half of the year leading up to the season for the restaurant. In October the following year Soler stepped down from his position due to a neuro-degenerative disease.
It is hard to describe somebody I’ve never met, yet felt the impact they brought upon the culinary world. The following quote comes from Josep Monje, a director of El Bulli, speaking about Juli Soler:
…..is a man who has broken molds with a tremendous organisational ability that has created extraordinary teams.
Rest in peace Juli Soler.