Juli Soler, who helped turn elBulli into a world famous restaurant, dies

Restaurateur Juli Soler, who helped elBulli's Ferran Adria turn the restaurant into one of the most innovative centres of gastronomy in the world, died at age 66.
Restaurateur Juli Soler, who helped elBulli's Ferran Adria turn the restaurant into one of the most innovative centres of gastronomy in the world, died at age 66. PHOTO: TWITTER.COM/FERRANADRIA

NEW YORK - Restaurateur Juli Soler, who helped elBulli's Ferran Adria turn the restaurant into one of the most innovative centres of gastronomy in the world, died on Monday at his home in Rubi, near Barcelona, reported the New York Times. He was 66.

Adria, the Spanish chef who was hired by Soler to run the elBulli kitchen in Spain, announced the news on Twitter Monday.

"The saddest news I wish that I have never had to bear: Juli Soler has passed away. Your memory will always be with us," Adria wrote.

The cause, as reported in the Spanish media, was degenerative nerve disease.

Adria had been working as a line cook at elBulli for 18 months in 1984 when Soler, who was managing the place, made him the head chef.

In 1990, they became the restaurant's joint owners and began using it as a base of operations to develop a host of ventures and experiments that sealed its reputation as the most daring and influential restaurant of its time, said the Times. It closed in 2011.

Born Juli Soler Lobo in Terrassa, north of Barcelona, Soler was a rock fan who rarely missed a Rolling Stones concert, it was reported.

He ran a record shop for several years in the 1970s before entering the dining world.

After elBulli's closure, Soler served as honorary president of elBulli Foundation, a culinary think tank, but resigned a year later due to poor health.

He is survived by his wife, a daughter and a son.

"Without Juli, elBulli would not have happened," Adria told the Madrid newspaper El Pais, reported the Times.

"He invented the concept of the modern dining room, of a dynamic restaurant that was comfortable and informal."