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help jules find a date for el bulli

el bulli
photo credit: Ian L

You might think it’s a sad state of affairs when a restaurant reservation out lasts a relationship. But when said reservation is for the best restaurant in the world and was secured over 12 months in advance – it doesn’t seem quite so tragic.

Last month, sadly, the Irishman and I parted ways. And so I found myself with a ticket to Spain, a reservation at the best restaurant in the world – and no one to share it with.

At the suggestion of my writing mentor I decided to hold a competition to find myself a blind date for the 15th December 2009. And here we are.

what is el Bulli?

According to some, elBulli is the best restaurant in the world and has been for the last few years. It is notoriously difficult to snag a chance to dine there – in 2008 there were over 2 million requests for 8000 tables.

I haven’t seen any stats on the 2009 season but given that it closes around the 20th December, I’m thinking I just scraped in – landing a table on the 15th.

who is jules?

Jules Clancy (thats me) is a food blogger and the type of girl who plans her holidays around restaurant reservations. I am always thinking about my next meal and have excellent table manners.

As a food scientist I’m really excited about the work of Ferran Adria and that someone is finally bringing some glamour to the profession. While my personal cooking style is much more conventional and minimalist, I can’t wait to experience the crazy language of el Bulli.

If that hasn’t convinced you that this competition is worth entering and that I’d make an excellent dining companion – you can read more about my story HERE.

how it works

i. Check to see if your diary and budget will allow you to be in Spain on Tuesday 15th December 2009.

ii. Email me – jules[at]thestonesoup[dot]com and convince me that you are the best person to share my evening at el bulli.
points will be given for humour and creativity.

iii. Cross your fingers

Entries close Sunday 15th November 2009.

The fine print.

The winning entrant will be notified by email and the results published on stonesoup – unless the winner wishes to remain anonymous.

The winner will be responsible for all their own travel and accommodation costs they will also be expected to pay their own way for dinner.

It is at the discretion of the winner whether the date is in fact blind, or whether there is a meeting prior to the 15th Dec.

The judge’s decision will be final and no other correspondence shall be entered into.


A big THANKYOU to everyone who got involved.

The competition ended up being much much bigger than I ever dreamed. I’d asked my friend Heidi who lives in London to come with me if I didn’t get any entries – I think she’s a little disappointed.

To view the winning entry check out my tumblr page HERE.


{ 72 comments… add one }

  • katie 24 October, 2009, 3:16 pm

    awwwwwwww that sucks. but what a great idea!
    (aka grocer)

  • julia 24 October, 2009, 4:05 pm

    Wow! This is incredible! Sorry to hear of the break-up.

    I reckon something very interesting will come of this…hell, I’d pitch to be your blind date if I wasn’t leaving London to come back to Sydney a week earlier. I always said I’d fly around the world if I ever got a reservation at El Bulli.

    Want me to try send this link to the London Lite paper? That could get quite a response?

  • Justin 24 October, 2009, 4:08 pm

    That is funny :-) great idea though. I will RT for ya.

  • another outspoken female 24 October, 2009, 5:10 pm

    Good on you :) That’s one hell of a blind date.

  • Ali 24 October, 2009, 6:40 pm

    Taking internet dating to an entirely new level :)
    I think this is the most terrific thing I have seen all week. I am sure you will make someone a great dining companion. Good Luck with your search, and have an amazing time in Spain!!

  • Trissa 24 October, 2009, 11:31 pm

    I was also lucky/unlucky enough to get a booking at El Bulli. Unlucky because of this damn financial crisis… but someone twittered it for me and I got someone to fill in instantly and she just emailed to tell me what a fantastic time she had. Have you tried asking a food critic? I would imagine they would grab at the chance…

  • dawn 25 October, 2009, 1:39 am

    I would love to go with you. Going to el bulli is a dream of mine before I pass on. I can’t right now because of finances, but will gladly help you find the right date. You so need to go.

  • 'neen 25 October, 2009, 1:56 am


    Sorry to hear of the parting of you and the Irishman :(

    Will RT your tweet. Any preferences on dining companions?

  • Ricki 25 October, 2009, 4:53 am

    What an amazing idea! I am in awe. You are incredibly brave!

    I hope you find a fabulous date/relationship/marriage/whatever strikes your fancy.

    I’ve heard of El Bulli and must say that their menu is perhaps a bit too far-out for my tastes, but I LOVE reading about it and can’t wait to hear what you and Mystery Date end up eating! I do hope you’ll blog about it. :)

    Good luck and have a stellar vacation!

  • Wendy 25 October, 2009, 5:13 am

    Fantastic! Talk about taking the bull by the horns. :)
    Can’t wait to read the outcome of this.
    Have a blast!

  • Lucy 25 October, 2009, 7:37 am

    Jules – I would go as your date, but I can’t justify another trip overseas in a year!

    May your mystery date be HEAPS of fun.

  • jules 25 October, 2009, 9:38 am

    thanks katie

    glad to hear you’re moving back to Oz. Would love it if you could forward to the London lite. thanks

    thanks justin

    you’re right another outspoken female – it is a bit of a crazy blind date

    thanks ali. I can’t wait to get there

    what a bummer that you didn’t get to go. will see what I come up with

    thanks dawn. I hope your financial situation makes your dreams possible soon

    thanks neen

    thanks ricki
    I think I’ll be happy with just a lovely evening.

    wendy – love your turn of phrase – will keep you posted

    would love to have you as my date. but totally understand. I’m hoping for heaps of fun too.
    no preferences on dining companions. just someone fun.

  • Y 25 October, 2009, 1:10 pm

    Sorry to hear about the breakup. :(

    I’ve been wanting to go to El Bulli for a long time now, so am very tempted by this offer. I’m not sure how good a dining companion I would be. Guess I’ll just have to email you and find out.

  • Matt 25 October, 2009, 1:58 pm

    Hey Jules, sorry to hear you went your separate ways… but this is a fantastic idea.

    If anything can put a fire under an adventurous food loving guy (or girl), I think a seat at El Bulli is just the ticket.

    And I know from personal experience what a lovely dining companion you are, so I know the lucky winner will certainly be getting the experience of a lifetime.

    Best of luck :)


  • Kathi 25 October, 2009, 2:05 pm

    Hey Jules. You go girl !!!! What a fantastic idea. I will do my best to spread the word and help find the most fabulous dining companion. K

  • Foodieguy 25 October, 2009, 5:58 pm

    O what a great idea. I wish I could make it to Spain and dine at el bulli. Will definitely spread the word. And I guess while i’m here…

    I’m a food science student conducting a research survey on the purchase of specialty food products. Feel free to help me fill out my short 8 min research survey. It’s completely voluntary.


  • Luca 25 October, 2009, 8:26 pm

    Best of luck, Jules! I went to the launch of “A Day at elBulli” in Melbourne, where Ferran lamented that he only has 8,000 seats per year for over a million people that want them, so this is definitely an experience to celebrate and treasure. 15th of December is out for me, but I’ll pass on the link.

  • ali 26 October, 2009, 8:35 pm

    Brilliant idea, Jules. Good luck on your search! I look forward to reading your blog entry on your El Bulli experience.

  • Sue 26 October, 2009, 10:57 pm

    I think I might just keep BOTH reservations and eat enough for two. I went to El Bulli before it WAS El Bulli and it was pretty spectacular. My husband has been (RAT!) and it sounds like it’s everything you would expect and MORE!

  • Barbara 26 October, 2009, 11:09 pm

    “I am always thinking about my next meal…” Jules I know just how you feel (sigh) – Best of luck on finding that lucky date! Ferran Adria’s culinary risk taking sent shockwaves through the entire restaurant world and, as I am sure you know, and thanks to him, chefs have been experimenting like mad ever since, with all that goodness getting passed on to us, the world’s happy diners!

  • Bea 26 October, 2009, 11:13 pm

    That’s such a cook idea Jules. Best luck and i cannot wait to hear how that turns out!

  • Travel Provence--Julie 26 October, 2009, 11:45 pm

    Hi, I just sent you an email…great idea…good luck with the search. I’m sure you’ll have fun blogging about it, if nothing else!

  • Kate 27 October, 2009, 7:08 am

    Hi – I want to go there next year – any hints on how to get a reservation? Sorry to hear your news!

  • barbara 27 October, 2009, 12:29 pm

    Jules I’m so sorry to hear it didn’t work out with the Irishman. Good luck with finding a date. I RT’d it on Twitter yesterday. Have sent the post on to young friends in the UK who may e interested.

    On a separate note. I can’t seem to find the pink TimTams in supermarkets on the Gold Coast. Not yet in Woolworths or Coles when I was last there. They are my favourite and I look forward to them all year.

  • Richard 27 October, 2009, 4:17 pm

    Great idea, although I’ve heard that the best rstaurant is at the other end of the universe. Even so, I’d consider it (I am feeling a bit peckish) were it not for a prior engagement in Madagascar. Bulli for you and best of luck.

  • jules 27 October, 2009, 7:37 pm

    enjoy madagasxar

    Thanks Barbara
    We’re not doing pink Tim Tams any more but have just launched a really lovely white version and given the dark TT a big overhaul

    They like to feel the passion in your email – it;s all about convincing them that you’re going to really enjoy the experience. A bit of name dropping doesn’t hurt either. I’m not sure when they’re opening the reservations for next year though – might be a good idea to check the elbulli website. Good Luck

    Thanks Bea & Julie

  • Tisha 28 October, 2009, 12:59 am

    Hi Jules,
    I’m sorry to hear your news. I always remember how your V-Day post helped me through my own lonely V-Day last year.

    I hope you find a great date for El Bulli.

  • jules 28 October, 2009, 5:49 pm

    Thanks Tisha

    That’s really sweet of you

    Highly recommend getting single mates together for Valentines – much more fun

  • Janet 28 October, 2009, 10:16 pm

    Can an older woman apply? Or is El Bulli blind date only open to sexy guys?

  • spice and more 29 October, 2009, 12:08 am

    Sorry to hear about the break up with the Irishman. Hope the search for a suitable date for dining at El Bulli works out well. Something lovely for you to look forward to anyway…make sure you enjoy it.

  • MyLittleHappyPlace 29 October, 2009, 2:52 am

    Hi Jules:

    Just put a post up about your contest – If I didn’t have a husband and two-year-old who would give serious protest about me flying off to Spain for a fab dinner, I’d enter your contest myself!!

    Here’s my link – please let me know if I need to make any corrections:

    Best of Luck!!
    alison g.

  • Jane 29 October, 2009, 1:05 pm

    What a brilliant adventure! I wish I could enter the competition and I think you are very brave to share your experience and booking this way! Go for it!
    I’ll spread the word to my food loving friends.
    Best of luck!!!!!

  • Jason Lam 30 October, 2009, 3:28 am

    How much would one expect to spend at el bulli?

    Great idea. I should do a similar contest for Valentines at White Castle.

  • betty 30 October, 2009, 1:58 pm

    what a fab (sort of) competition
    and so sorry to hear about your break up xx

    if i wasnt in NZ at the time i would defo enter

  • barry rutherford 31 October, 2009, 3:06 pm

    Logistically it would be far preferable chatting about mutual interests at say The Beachouse at Balmoral…

  • Cam Withers 2 November, 2009, 10:02 pm

    Hi Clancy
    Given that its El Bulli, I can ask Jana if she will release me for the evening, just to accompany you to dinner. Obviously, getting to Barcelona will be no problem. I would also toss in Dinner at the 2 Michelin Star Midsummer House Restarurant (http://www.midsummerhouse.co.uk/) on Midsummer common in Cambridge, a convenient 5 minute stroll across the common from my house. Check out the website; its very nice. Actually, I am taking a customer there for dinner on Wednesday evening. I also know Barcelona quite well, if that helps persuade the judges.

  • jules 3 November, 2009, 11:45 am

    older women definitely welcome to apply – it’s all about being excellent company – not just appearances

    not exactly sure of the price – I think it’s about 250euro – which is pretty reasonable I think – especially if you break it down to cost per course.

    balmoral would be better logistically – but wheres the fun in that?

    camburn k
    like your thinking of bribing the judges with other dinner offers – will definitely take under consideration.

  • A Blast from the Past 3 November, 2009, 11:55 am

    Hi Miss J,
    Cant make it unfortunately, but glad you are doing well.

  • peasepudding 3 November, 2009, 5:47 pm

    What a great idea and good luck picking someone who is going make the evening entertaining for you! At least you got to keep the reservation, I wouldn’t swap that for any man…don’t tell hubby!

  • alvaro 4 November, 2009, 4:35 am

    my friend mikel has published your “search” in his food-blog http://www.ondakin.com... that might give you the chance to get a “local” date… ggod luck!
    been there a couple of times… you are in for a treat!

  • Antonio 4 November, 2009, 10:57 pm

    Hola Jules! I’m Antonio (like Antonio Banderas) :P I live in Barcelona and I have always dreamt about going to el Bulli. It will lbe a pleasure to go with you! I’ll send to you a private email! :)

  • Matt 7 November, 2009, 11:57 am

    Damn! It’s times like this you wish you weren’t married. And that you were younger. And better looking. Where were you 20 years ago when I was your age and I looked like Brad Pitt? Instead of now when I look more like Danny DeVito?

  • CB 7 November, 2009, 2:07 pm

    Brilliant! You are turning lemon juice into….sharp, stylish margaritas!

    My partner(husband) of 15 years walked out 1 month b4 my 40th BD. Twelve months prior, I’d booked us a family holiday to Fiji for my birthday celebration…some celebration! We toyed with him going as a ‘friend’, but decided it wouldn’t really work.

    I took me & my two young boys overseas for the first time with a little trepidation. Then we bumped into another family who we knew from creche at the resort. Our boys played in the pool for a week, and we all had a ball – one of my best holidays ever!

    I commend you on your bold challenge; fortune favours the brave. Good luck with your quest; savour E Bulli & keep making margaritas!


  • PMSPMS 7 November, 2009, 2:53 pm

    No thanks. I’ll stick to leaning how to herd cats.

  • Gourmet Chick 8 November, 2009, 3:04 am

    Jules – forget the boys, they always break your heart anyway and take me as your El Bulli date. This isn’t a lesbian proposal, I’m just a girl who is as obsessed with food as you are and I am sure my company would be much more entertaining and my conversation more sparkling than any so called date. I am an Australian living in London so could easily make it to El Bulli, and in fact I have tried without success to get a table there for the past two years.

    And if you won’t take a girl then I will tweet your proposal so that hopefully some more single male El Bulli fans will find out about it.

  • Carmen Mendoza 8 November, 2009, 2:06 pm

    No siento lo del novio, las cosas pasan por algún misterioso motivo que desconocemos.
    Se cierran puertas que hacen que puedas entrar en otras.
    Así creo que he llegado a tu blog.
    Me encanta cocinar, los trucos de cocina, comer i acudir a restaurantes maravillosos donde hay grandes cosineros/as que te transportan durante unas horas a un recondido lugar en donde tu yo contacta con el sentir más puro de uno mismo.
    Soy una catalana que iria contigo encantada, Ah! te recomiendo tambien la Carme Ruscalleda en su restaurante de sant pau i Josemaria Arzac (uno de los grandes).
    Me encanta tu blog. Gràcias
    vendre a verte amenudo

  • Sam W 9 November, 2009, 12:08 pm

    Fantastic idea!

    Would love to go but my girlfriend might not be very happy about it.

    She would probably prefer to go ;)

  • penny 9 November, 2009, 8:48 pm

    lucky you for getting a reservation! I ate there in 2003 and it was fabulous – have a great time, and good luck with your date!

  • josep 9 November, 2009, 11:25 pm

    hola jules!! que tal soy un chico catalan de bacelona que buena idea esto del bulli,siento lo de tu relacion pero la vida sigue adelante,i que buena oportunidad de cenar juntos i conocer el espectaculo culinario de un maestro como ferran.tambien podemos disfrutar de un dia en la ciudad de barcelona i si te sirve jo mismo te puedo hacer de guia.i quien sabe de este encuentro puede surguir una profunda amistat!!!espero una respuesta o podernos conocer.si no fuera el elegido me gustaria tener la oportunida deconocerte un abrazo muy fuerte!!!!!

  • Belce 10 November, 2009, 5:01 am

    Hi Jules, I’m sorry about it your relation whit your boy, but sometimes the life are hard. My name is Jordi, (Belce is my nick, already it will you because), i’m Catalan, 40 years old, single, and the people describe me like: genpowerfull caracther, agreeable, nice,

  • Belce 10 November, 2009, 5:19 am

    Hi Jules, I’m sorry about it your relation whit your boy, but sometimes the life are hard. My name is Jordi, (Belce is my nick, already it will you because), I’m Catalan, 40 years old, single, and the people describe me: gentlemen whit powerfull character, agreeable, good-looking and with a wonderful smile.
    My hobbie is the gastronomy, iin all my trips always I have tried to find the different secrets that every country or culture me can contribute, thus you can deal and understand more his people. From New York to Lima, Iquitos, Mauritius, India, Morocco, Tunis, all Europe , Malta, the Carib, La Havana and few more places , where I could enjoy the culinary secrets of every culture and learn to eating of everything and with all.
    The best phrase that I have gathered in my trips was that of Tanzano friend called Nboro that was ending all his lunchs with this phrase: ” niama ning niama too ” that everything means ” is eaten “.
    Certainly, I pay this food since you come to my country. Up to soon my darling.

  • Pole 10 November, 2009, 7:40 am

    T_D_S P_T_S

  • Liz Oldeman 10 November, 2009, 8:37 am

    Love to take you for dinner love, but if I have to pay for it I reckon we´ll just have some sandwiches. Afterwards I can take you to play some pool and have a few laughs with the locals. Anyway, good on ya for breaking up and make sure to get a right replacement, that is, if you think you still need one. Anyway, hope you find a nice date and if you don´t: make sure to call; we´ll have some nice tapa´s and I can play some Crowded House on the guitar for you if you´re homesick.
    G´day and keep it cooking!!

  • mitch 10 November, 2009, 12:09 pm

    Hi Jules,
    LOVE to go, but cant :-( Though cannot wait to hear about your dining experience. Have an amazing time.

  • maree 10 November, 2009, 12:56 pm

    Hi jules,

    I decided to read this story out on my radio program……as I do community radio.
    Good luck girl.

  • josep 11 November, 2009, 5:18 am

    Hey !! ami tambien me gusta Ferran Adria estoy cerca de Girona

  • Marcus 11 November, 2009, 6:30 am

    Hi Jules , Drove past El Bulli the other day and briefly daydreamed about how wonderfully ridiculous it would be to dine there some day. Well heres my chance! All I have to do is impress you with my dazzeling wit and general bon hommi. Um…..Um….. Nothing like pressure to preform for an attractive intelligent woman. Whatever! The cost is not irrellavent to me as I am supposed to be saving my pennies to build a house next year, but I believe in living like a poorper most of the time and a prince once in a blue moon. A bit of ying and yang. Mediocraty gets on my breasts!!!. I can promise to take you there in a nice motor which is about as old as me. I do hope you like it as it is my favorite in the whole world. Better get a taxi after, I sure dont intend to watch you drink all the wine. Actually thinking about that would be fine. Who ever you go with, I hope its surpasses all expectations. Now I shall endeaver to surpress mine. Regards Marcus

  • Dan Wilson 14 November, 2009, 4:11 pm

    A wonderful blog full of fantastic photos and great tasty treats. An awesome experience awaits for you and a very fortunate accompanier at El Bulli … have a treasured time …

  • Lou 16 November, 2009, 9:03 pm

    Go Clancy. I am backing you all the way on this one.

  • Matt 18 November, 2009, 1:13 am

    What happened? The deadline came and went… don’t keep us waiting Jules, the suspense is killing me!

  • jules 18 November, 2009, 5:04 am

    Sorry Matt – the winner is a Canadian doctor. To read the winning entry go to http://thestonesoup.tumblr.com/post/245752977/and-the-winner-is

  • Guillem 21 November, 2009, 1:26 am

    If you need a translation for it? You can ask me for it.

    Hola Jules, puc donar-te mil raons per poder acompanyar-te al El Bulli, però no ho faré per no aburrir-te. Així doncs només te’n donaré una i curta.En El Bulli es parlen molts idiomes, entre ells el català, idioma matern d’en Juli Soler i adoptat d’en Ferran Adrià. Aquesta carta que t’escric età escrita en aquest idioma. Anar al El Bulli amb algú que parli aquest idioma pot fer que gaudeixis una mica més de l’essencia i història d’aquest lloc màgic. Tinc ganes d’explicar-te aquesta història (al menys la part que conec) i ensenyar-te algunes paraules en el nostre idioma.

    Un petò des de Barcelona

  • amifesels 24 November, 2009, 4:08 pm

    Great Article , I considered it tremendous

    I look forward to more innovative postings like this one. Does Your Blog have a subscription I can subscribe to for fresh posts?

  • Alejandro 5 December, 2009, 8:36 am

    I am studiying cooking
    i wath an reportage from bully and i want eat here
    thanks a lot for choose me

  • IMMA 6 December, 2009, 12:43 am

    Hola Jules¡¡¡ me encantaria ir al Buli , y el dia es perfecto el 16 de diciembre es mi cumpleaños, seria una celebracion perfecta¡¡¡ mi mejor regalo, yo vivo en la provincia de Girona asi que no te fallaré , un saludo espero que me elijas¡¡¡

  • Gloria Salvestro 14 December, 2009, 10:02 pm

    Hi Julie

    I went to El Bulli in August this year. I got to go at the last minute when my friends were unable to go. I booked my flights on the Wednesday, flew out on Saturday to eat on the Monday. It was a crazy thing to do, but I had to do it! Once in a lifetime opportunity. I pretty much had a blind date too with two guys from Melbourne who entered a competition in The Epicure for the other two tickets from the table of 3 that was available. It was interesting going with strangers, but because we all had hospitality backgrounds we were all on the same page.

    Have a great time. It is a mind exploding experience. Still can’t believe I got to go!
    Hope you picked a good date! Can’t wait to compare your experiences and thoughts on the experience! We were the first booking to arrive and pretty much the last to leave… we did’nt want to!!!! My advice is to have a very light lunch! – if any! There portion sizes are bigger than I expected considering there were so many courses.

    I too could’nt get enough of the Jamon… did’nt know what the fuss was about when I used to read about it in magazines…… UNTIL I got to taste it at La Bouqueria! I basically lived there too when I was in Barcelona. I loved to look at the fresh food everyday.

    Anyway, Good Luck!

  • Clara 16 December, 2009, 11:53 am

    Hey dear Jules,
    hoping your trip to Spain is going fantastically, culminating in a memorable evening at El Bulli last night, that turned out to be everything you’d hoped for and more…Enjoy the rest of your stay in Espana, have a safe trip back, and a lovely Christmas looking forward to the start of an amazing 2010 for you, Love Cx …ps Love the simple things in life…Catalan Bread…mmm….

    • jules 19 December, 2009, 7:06 am

      thanks miss clara – couldn’t agree with you more about catalan bread xx

  • catherine 17 December, 2009, 1:22 pm

    You can’t possibly blame this on time zone differences any more….
    how was it? the isomalt? the agar agar? the date with the american?
    we need a report from the front lines!

    • jules 19 December, 2009, 7:03 am

      so sorry to keep you waiting catherine – had to finish digesting before I wrote – took a while.
      it was fabulous – have the writeup on my new restaurant review blog eat|shop|drink.

  • Gisele 5 June, 2010, 6:40 am

    Hi Jules, how was your date? And how was the food??

    I think I’m in the same situation now. I made a reservation at El Bulli for me and my boyfriend this year 2010 but now we’ve kind of split up ! I will still go but I need to find someone to go with me !! :-/

  • jules 5 June, 2010, 11:18 am

    hey gisele
    congrats on the reservation. sorry to hear that you’ve found yourself in the same situation as me – don’t worry you’ll easily find someone to go with you. but the thing is it’s such an amazing food-focused meal that you could go with the most boring person ever and still have a brilliant night.

    enjoy – I wish I were going again.

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