Get instant access to this case solution for only $15

ElBulli The Taste Of Innovation

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
2291 4980 Words (13 Pages) Michael I. Norton, Julian Villanueva, Luc Wathieu Harvard Business School : 509015
This solution includes: A Word File A Word File

As someone who has love for food and an appetite to try new things, I am always on the lookout to try new restaurants and cuisines. My appetite for trying new food has led me to try some amazing places and an appreciation for the work that the chefs do. Despite trying different foods and restaurants, I always find myself going back to one place: Steakhouse in Al Khobar City. Steakhouse has been my go-to place for years now and I have always found the food to be of high quality and the overall experience one to remember. 

Following questions are answered in this case study solution:

  1. What was the best restaurant you ever went to? Why was it the best?

  2. What factors made elBulli the best restaurant in the world? Which elements of the elBulli experience create value for customers?

  3. How would you describe the creative process at elBulli? Illustrate with a flowchart.

  4. If you were Ferran Adria, what would you change? Provide Rationale.

  5. Can the ElBulli philosophy be applied to:

    a. A fast-food restaurant

    b. A hospital

    c. Petrochemical Company

    d. A University

    e. Industries Adria’s philosophy can be applied to

  6. What should come first – Creativity or the Customer? Explain

  7. Can you apply elBulli’s “Taste of Innovation” process in your own business/organization or someone’s business you know? How? Be very specific.

  8. Case Feedback

Case Study Questions Answers

ii. Steakhouse

Steakhouse opened in Saudi Arabia back in 1992 in Riyadh. It was initially a 60-seat restaurant offering a wide array of items. The restaurant, because of its good food and unique experience, quickly became a place to go for families and people as it opened more branches in different cities of the kingdom. It now serves over 2 million people every year and has been awarded the best restaurant in Saudi Arabia and the Best Enterprise award throughout the years. There is a reason for the growth and popularity of the restaurant, they have maintained their quality and at the same time brought changes to the restaurants which are consistent with time. This has led to a continuous growth in business and a reason that it became my favourite restaurant. 

iii. What makes Steakhouse good?

One of the reasons for Steakhouse’s success has been that it has remained true to its values. Some of the items that were on its menu in 1992 can still be found and ordered by people visiting Steakhouse. They have throughout these years not only maintained the quality and taste of their food but there is also consistency among the different branches of the restaurants. The service is also one of the best I have experienced as one feels warmth and care from the waiters. One of the most interesting things I have noticed during my visits to Steakhouse is that the waiters are never too intimidating allowing you to order and choose what you would prefer. The restaurant also gives options of some high-quality and very tasty steaks along with the option to grill yourself if you want to experience something different. Along with their famous steaks, the restaurant has expanded its menu with fast food options along with sea-food entrees and new deserts. The important part is that all these new introductions has not led to any compromise on the quality of food and these new entrees are consistent with what the restaurant is known for. 

iv. Experience at Steakhouse

Every place that someone loves has led to that status because of some events. Similarly, my love for Steakhouse is a result of more than just the food I eat there or the experience I have. There have been a couple of events which has led to a deeper connection with that place which makes me feel like I am home. I remember a couple of years back; I went with my friends on a birthday of one of our friends. We ordered food and celebrated his birthday and as we were doing that, the waiters joined us to wish him his birthday and gave us complementary desserts. Along with that, we had made yourself grill over there and it was one of those moments where we all shared our dreams and aspirations and, in a way, shared a lot with each other. In fact, I believe that it was this night and the experience I had at Steakhouse which not only made the occasion very memorable but made our bond stronger. We still remember that day when we all meet and discuss how good that night was and how tasty that food was. I believe that the moment and the time was made so much more memorable because of the place that we were in and the experience we had at Steakhouse. Not a lot of other places would allow you to have that experience because we stayed and talked for a lot longer after we were done eating but no one from the restaurant questioned us or ask us to leave because they were understanding of the moment that we had. 

Another experience which was really good with the restaurant came during covid19. With dine-out closing and delivery or pickup being the only options, no one was able to have the experience of eating out. Along with this, most of the places could neither maintain their quality nor keep up with the changing realities. However, whenever I ordered from Steakhouse, I tasted the same food with no change in the quality. It made me feel good and for a moment I thought I was sitting in Steakhouse forgetting about the pandemic. The pickup service has been equally good, and I have always found that everyone has an amazing attitude making you feel really good. 

2. What factors made elBulli the best restaurant in the world? Which elements of the elBulli experience create value for customers?

What made elBulli the best restaurant in the world?

elBulli is the best restaurant in the world because of the creativity and uniqueness which is unlike any other restaurant. There is a philosophy to elBulli which starts in 1961 with Dr. Hans Schilling. He wanted sophistication in his menu, he wanted things to be different, he wanted creativity from his chefs. As it gained and lost Michelin stars, Ferran Adria joined the restaurant as a Chef in 1983. As he was trying to imitate what the best chefs in the world were doing, he attended a lecture which changed his thinking as creativity was not copying but doing something different than what everyone else was doing. This led to a complete revamp of what elBulli stood for, it completely changed their philosophy. Adria wanted his dishes to not only be different, but he wanted it to be more than just food, it should be a journey. He wanted his food to tell a story making the diners think. His dishes were unique, but the diners still knew what they were eating, and it seemed familiar to them while not knowing what to expect. What made elBulli the best was that Adria did not do it once, in fact, he continuously tried to change his dishes and bringing new ways, techniques, and machines deconstructing the traditional cuisines to the very basic and then trying to figure out what can be done to make it different and to make it better. Adria was an artist and the menu that people experienced at elBulli was art. The entire atmosphere from the location near the sea to the 60 waiters waiting on 50 diners was just perfect. Adria was so obsessed with innovation that the menus used one year would not be repeated next year. Imagine doing that, it becomes almost impossible to be creative enough to have such a large menu changed every year. It was only possible for Adria because it was not a job for him, he wanted to do it and was not concerned with how the customers feel. He wanted the customers to like it, but he was more concerned with his art, he wanted to make the dishes unique which he was always successful in doing. Along with the amazing food that Adria served every year, the staff and waiters were all top notch, they would all make sure that all of the customers have an amazing experience and would do their best to make sure that everyone was served well. It was an experiment for Adria, and he could see the results of the experiments right there. Everyone, including the top chefs in the world, could not help but be amazed by everything that Adria was doing in elBulli. The restaurant had three Michelin stars and every year over a million people would try to have the experience of elBulli but only a few thousand were successful in getting that while some people continued to try for years before getting a chance. 

Get instant access to this case solution for only $15

Get Instant Access to This Case Solution for Only $15

Standard Price


Save $10 on your purchase


Amount to Pay


Different Requirements? Order a Custom Solution

Calculate the Price

Approximately ~ 1 page(s)

Total Price


whatsapp chat icon

Hi there !

We are here to help. Chat with us on WhatsApp for any queries.

close icon