Friday, 14 February 2014 | MYT 1:10 PM

'El Somni' documentary debuts at Berlinale

Epic culinary opera takes viewers through the creative process of the Roca brothers.

A FILM documenting an epic 12-course operatic meal prepared by the restaurant named the best on the planet made its debut at the Berlinale International Film Festival, where audience members got to sit in on one of the most exclusive and groundbreaking meals in modern gastronomy.

Dubbed “El Somni”, the Catalan word for “dream”, the documentary takes viewers through the creative process of the Roca brothers Joan, Josep and Jordi, as they write the makings of a culinary opera involving light shows, original music scores and state-of-the-art graphics.

The Roca brothers’ restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, was named the world’s best restaurant for 2013 by influential trade publication Restaurant magazine.

Months of work and collaborations with 40 artists culminated in a one-off dinner in Barcelona last spring, attended by a carefully curated guest list that included Indian actress Freida Pinto and legendary Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.

And to make sure the landmark culinary event is preserved in the canon of gastronomical history, filmmaker Franc Aleu was enlisted to document the project from start to finish.

El Somni, the dinner. - YouTube
El Somni, the dinner. – YouTube

Snippets of the film, which was singled out as the festival highlight in the Berlinale’s Culinary Cinema category this year, are available on YouTube and trace the makings of the opera, from the brainstorming sessions of Joan and Jordi on how to bring the moon into the menu, to post-dinner reflections by Adrià and Pinto.

“How does the moon taste?” asks chef Joan to his younger brother and pastry wizard Jordi in the kitchen.

Words like “strange”, “earthy”, “truffles” and “minerality” are lobbied about as the two brainstorm the different ways in which the moon can be interpreted into edible art.

Pictures then show an ashen, mottled orb moulded with reliefs to replicate the craggy lunar landscape.

Sommelier Josep also pontificates about how wine and the moon are connected. Wine is a testament to the passage of time, he surmises, and though born in light, is transformed into “dark night”.

Images of the dinner itself, meanwhile, show projections displayed on the tabletop and surrounding walls that could be described as part National Geographic – close-ups of ants, tropical forests, and bees sucking nectar from flowers – and part sci-fi with fantastical images and graphics that stir the imagination.

About a dozen guests seated at a round table tuck into dishes like charcoal-broiled sea urchin, ceviche, anemones, sea cucumbers and olive oil, as well as a plate of sea plankton and sponge cake.

The result? An experience that folds in all six senses (the sixth being memories and emotions) and involves “opera, electronica, 3D, performing arts, singing, reflexion, painting, films, music,” and of course, “cookery”.

Watch video snippets from the film at http://bit.ly/1fhBpLs.

For the complete list of culinary films being screened at the Berlinale, visit the Berlinale website. – AFP Relaxnews

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle , El Somni , Berlin film festival , El Celler de Can Roca , documentary


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