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In the case study, Ferran Adrià, chef at elBulli, the highest-ranked restaurant in the world for two consecutive years, faces two serious decisions. First, how can they continue to develop new and different dishes for the revolutionary cuisine at elBulli to guarantee a continuous stream of innovation, which serves as a cornerstone of the restaurant's success? Second, they need to define a growth strategy and answer the question of whether the core concepts from elBulli, the "taste of innovation", can be applied to other domains such as consulting or fast food.
Michael I. Norton; Julian Villanueva; Luc Wathieu
Harvard Business Review (509015-PDF-ENG)
July 30, 2008
Case questions answered:
- Try to make one of the recipes in Exhibit 8 in the case and/or others that appear in the elBulli books and online. How easy is this? What are the implications of this for possible offerings?
- What factors made it the best restaurant in the world?
- Which elements of the elBulli experience created value for customers?
- What should come first – creativity or the customer?
- What should Ferran Adria and his team do next?
- What factors make Elbulli the best restaurant in the world?
- Which element of the Elbulli experience creates value for customers?
- What are the most salient features of the creative process at Elbulli?
- Are there weaknesses in the restaurant operations? How would you fix them?
- What should Ferran Adria and the Elbulli team do next? Can the philosophy be applied to potato chips and fast food?
- What should come first - creativity or the customer?
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Case answers for elBulli: The Taste of Innovation
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elBulli is a highly differentiated restaurant due to the chief and his team’s emphasis on innovation and gastronomic creativity. The restaurant is open only from March till October, which is due to the seasonal influences. This fact creates extra uniqueness and makes a reservation at elBulli even more desirable. When the restaurant is not running, the R&D team is preparing the exclusive menu for the upcoming season.
elBulli is the only restaurant globally to have been ranked 1st three times by the prestigious Restaurant Magazine. It is currently awarded 3 stars in the Michelin guide, and the chef, Ferran Adrià, was named “the Salvador Dali of the kitchen.” In addition, to chef Adrià’s determination to provide a one-of-a-kind, possibly also once-in-a-lifetime experience, the aforementioned facts make the restaurant stand out among its competitors, giving elBulli a competitive advantage.
Food lovers worldwide are welcome to visit elBulli and experience the unique gastronomic adventure offered at the restaurant. However, this has been proven not to be so easy, as some customers wait for several years to get a dinner reservation. elBulli receives around two million reservations per year.
They can serve only 8000 customers, or so-called patrons, per season. This considerable number of reservations may indicate clients’ interest in gourmet food, thus pointing to a possible trend in consumer preferences, characterized by the clientele’s passion for gastronomic adventure and the unknown.
Following a restaurant’s path of success, other “molecular gastronomy” restaurants became popular worldwide, with many opened by followers and former students of chef Adrià. Those restaurants are direct competitors of elBulli and threaten to attract elBulli’s potential customers due to shorter reservation times.
These clients are interested in just molecular gastronomy and are not concerned with the chef behind the creation. In addition, 2 and 3 Michelin star-rated restaurants and top 50 of the Restaurant Magazine ranking can be considered competitors of elBulli.
As previously stated, the target customers are people sharing a passion for adventure, emphasizing the surprise element who are interested in elegant dining. One particular strength of this segmentation is that elBulli is…
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