A few years ago my pal Louisa invited me to dinner at El Bulli, the Shangri La of the modernist cuisine movement on the Spanish Costa Brava. Inconveniently, her reservation was in two days, and the trip would have cost thousands of dollars, but that hardly eases the regret that I’ll never eat at the legendary restaurant which served its final 30-course meal in July.

Like the millions who coveted but never won a seat, I’ve had to content myself with the vicarious consumption of chef Ferran Adrià’s mind-bending cuisine through a collection of dense, gorgeously illustrated coffee-table books, and most recently a compelling but discombobulating lecture and slide show at the Harold Washington Library about his new project, the El Bulli Foundation.