The Incredible Legacy of Juli Soler

Every great restaurant has both a front and a back of the house. Juli Soler personified the front of the house in one of the most influential restaurants in history. In 1983, he was managing an unassuming seaside bar and grill that was part of a miniature golf course when he hired a young chef with an unimpressive résumé. It was a very inauspicious start, but, together, the two of them changed the world of cooking. The chef was Ferran Adrià, and the miniature-golf bar and grill was elBulli.

Juli Soler

To say that elBulli was special is an understatement. Carved out of a bay on the Costa Brava, it was a magical spot, and Juli was largely responsible for that magic. Committed diners waited years to secure a reservation before traveling incredible distances for a single, albeit very large, meal. Juli was there to welcome them at the climax of their journey. He was everything a host should be—gracious, funny, and warm. He changed the fine-dining experience, stripping away many of the formalities so that guests could relax and engage emotionally and intellectually with the dishes in front of them.

The cuisine of elBulli, crafted by Ferran, his brother Albert Adrià, and an extremely talented team, was legendary of course, but there would have been no elBulli without Juli. He was the kind of person you wanted to work with, someone who inspired the people around him to grow. As elBulli began to evolve, he encouraged the team to learn, travel, and experiment. When Ferran took sole control of the kitchen and threw out old recipes, Juli fostered Ferran’s burgeoning creativity. They took risks, challenged conventions, and would eventually close the restaurant down for six months each year so the chefs could dedicate themselves to research and culinary innovation. The dishes that came out of elBulli captivated diners and inspired chefs throughout the world, including the Modernist Cuisine team and the work that we do.


Together, Juli and Ferran transformed an inconspicuous restaurant into a hotbed of culinary creativity. Some of the most talented chefs in the world passed through the kitchen and went on to become industry leaders—their success is a testament to the tremendous environment Juli created. elBulli is one of the great restaurants. It will be talked about for many years to come and Juli’s legacy will live on in those conversations.

Juli will be deeply missed. Our thoughts go out to his loved ones and the elBulli family.

Celebrating Steven Shaw

The best meals are shared, creating a sense of community. These experiences bring people together to exchange ideas, pose questions, debate passionately, laugh loudly, create memories, and relish in eating good food. Steven Shaw did all of these things as well—his work embodied the spirit of his subject matter.

The culinary world lost an innovative voice on Tuesday. I’m shocked and deeply saddened to lose Steven, who has been a great friend to me and to the entire culinary world.


Steven genuinely enjoyed good food, whether it was a pizza, a particularly delicious deli sandwich, or a provocative Modernist creation at a high-end restaurant. His voracious appetite for both food and writing drove him to leave a successful legal career to become a food blogger, long before that title existed and certainly before anyone was actually getting paid for it. He was an evocative, intelligent author and critic who had a gift for inspiring people to explore, debate, and eat. His early, enthusiastic newsletters transformed into his blog, which evolved into eGullet; the community he created is a true reflection of his passion. His decisions in how to shape and moderate the disparate voices into a managed conversation made eGullet into a forum where chefs, home cooks, and just about anybody else openly shared their knowledge. He was a trailblazer, centralizing our conversations and democratizing our discourse by moving it to an online agora.

In many ways, the inspiration for Modernist Cuisine was born on those forums. In 2004, I started exploring and explaining sous vide cuisine on eGullet. Almost immediately, I was contacted by FatGuy, and, in addition to the public posts, we started to e-mail each other directly. As a result of the experience, I was determined to write a book on sous vide. Steven was a tremendously positive influence on the development of both Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Cuisine at Home. He was a sounding-board throughout the writing process, providing thoughtful feedback on early manuscripts. I and the rest of the Modernist Cuisine team owe a great deal to him for all of his help and guidance.


I was also incredibly fortunate to be able to call him a friend. He was smart, doggedly rational, and had a famously acerbic sense of humor—he was a genuinely good guy and a truly amazing person to share a meal with. I have many wonderful memories that were made while sitting across the table from him. I was privileged to dine with Steven in the last weeks at elBulli. Our group comprised chefs and hard-core eaters, but six hours and fifty-two courses after the beginning of the night, we reached our limits. Yet, when the last plate finally arrived, Steven turned to me and said in an incredulous voice, “Is that it?” It was all the rest of us could do to contain our laughter.

Steven has left a lasting legacy. He taught thousands of people how to really love food and his work will live on in the community he built. eGullet is a gift that he created for everyone—especially for me. He will be sincerely missed and lovingly remembered as a legend. He gave so much, but it ended far too soon. If I could say one last thing to him, I would say, “Hey Steve, is that it?”