Ferran Adrià Calls on MBA Students to Create a Business Plan for the elBulli Foundation

Just when you thought Ferran Adrià couldn’t be more innovative than when he was running his world renowned restaurant, elBulli, he calls on the best and brightest MBA students to help him do just that. During the final days before the permanent closure of elBulli, Mr. Adrià said he planned to explore a new venture with food, only this time it would involve need — not indulgence. So he did what any intelligent entrepreneur would do; he decided to leave the tedious work of building a business plan for his nonprofit foundation in the hands of budding MBA students from five of the best business schools in the U.S. and Europe.

A coveted opportunity for any business student, the chosen schools — Barcelona’s Esade, London Business School, Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School and UC Berkeley Haas School of Business — know that being asked to participate in such a contest is an honor, and for some students, a learning experience of a lifetime. The provisions of the project were clearly outlined in a recent article by The Financial Times:

In teams of three, with a professor or mentor acting as supervisor, the students must come up with an entire organisational structure for the foundation, ranging from marketing to how it will attract the talent to develop new ideas.

Their business plans will eventually be judged by the chef and a panel including Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize-winning economist. The winning idea will form the basis of how the elBulli foundation will be organised, marketed and funded.

Students must also devise a strategy that enables the foundation to release its ideas to a global audience, adding a new media element to an already challenging menu of considerations.

The article points out that these provisions are “rather open-ended,” but it appears that that is exactly how Mr. Adrià wants it. After all, elBulli, wasn’t labeled the “World’s Best Restaurant” by high-profile food critics and publications for following conventional norms. Mr. Adrià shattered all preconceived notions about food while attempting to spread a powerful message of creativity. And that’s what he wants from the students participating in this contest.

“To exit this (food) crisis we are going to need a lot of creativity,” Mr. Adrià told the WSJ. “We have less resources than before. But people often think of creativity as something extraordinary and extravagant, but it is something also within day-to-day life, normal life. It does not have to be complex or expensive.”

Throughout the 24 years Mr. Adrià ran elBulli, he never sold out to mass-market promotions, or production. He remained true to his vision and to his belief that creativity can thrive only in environments where the human element is present. And that is why Mr. Adrià has faith that these small groups of talented MBA students will indeed serve up some plans worth sampling. The venture is sure to present a new set of challenges for the Catalan chef, but knowing Mr. Adrià, he won’t let that deter him from fulfilling his new vision that may one day have him remembered not as the executive chef of elBulli, but as a pioneer in the fight to end world hunger.

 Photo by: flickr/Sifu Renka

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