Mr Adrià took to the stage in Madrid to unveil «el Bulli Foundation» – the latest development from the man described by the New York Times as the chef «who would have been the caterer of choice for the Mad Hatter».
The foundation will be the next phase for Mr Adrià, whose every pronouncement is seized upon by food writers and cultural observers worldwide.
He aims to put all of el Bulli’s back catalogue – over 1,800 recipes – online, so that admirers can perhaps try to create sea anemone with rabbit brains in their own kitchens.
The news that el Bulli was to close created huge shock waves among foodies, but also generated a certain amount of bemusement by people who wondered what all the hype was about.
Those fortunate enough to secure a table at the three Michelin-starred restaurant – it is only open for six months of the year, and this year had three million people applying for a seat – rave about the mind-boggling concoctions, such as parmesan marshmallows, popcorn clouds or suckling pig tail. Other wonder why anyone would pay €230 (£200) for 30 tiny courses of foams, froths and fricassees.
Yet for the chef who has made a career out of creating culinary shock and awe, a further twist in the tale of el Bulli was perhaps to be expected.
«El Bulli was originally, fifty years ago, a beach bar on a crazy golf course,» he told The Sunday Telegraph.
«Then, in 1987, we decided to shut for six months of the year – which was revolutionary. In 1993, we did new food, and almost ruined ourselves financially. In 2001, when el Bulli was right at the top, we took the decision to close at midday, and then a year later we got rid of the menu.
«By last year, we felt we were beginning to repeat the same ideas. To maintain the same creative level, we needed different scenarios. There is a limit to how far you can push it.»
And Mr Adrià, 48, was also reaching his own limits of endurance. The chef, born in L’Hospitalet, a working-class suburb of Barcelona, has admitted that coping with the immense pressure and long hours of running a restaurant was becoming too much.
Mr Adrià began work at el Bulli in 1984, becoming head chef three years later, aged 25. Since then he has been a permanent fixture at the restaurant – laughing at suggestions that, like at other world-renowned restaurants, he could keep the «head chef» title and delegate the day to day cooking to someone else.
«In el Bulli, the chef needs to be there,» he said. «You need to see him. If not, it’s not serious.
«When I announced in January last year that I was going to take a sabbatical, that I wanted simply time to think and decide on my new path, people went crazy – saying I was ruined, it was all over.
«I had decided a while ago to take a break. Otherwise, it’s too much. I want to travel with my wife, to laugh.
«I’m not sad about closing the restaurant because we’re going to do something really good. The world of hospitality is very, very hard and el Bulli had a great atmosphere, but we’re very tired. I want more time to myself, more freedom. We want a Google-style environment, and liberty.»
Earlier this month Mr Adrià opened a cocktail bar in Barcelona with his younger brother, Albert – who was one of the chefs at el Bulli – and the duo are opening an adjoining tapas bar in February.
«It’s going to be great fun,» said Mr Adrià. «The food is not traditional – it’s new tapas, original and spontaneous. I’m not going to cook, but I’ll be on the other side of the bar, sampling. Because el Bulli …» he pauses and shakes his head. «Never again.»
He does look tired. Meeting The Sunday Telegraph for lunch during the closed season, straight off a plane from Italy, his eyes are weary. Accompanied by his petite, elegant wife Isabel, who he met in Roses, the town of el Bulli, 20 years ago, he looks exhausted and sits quietly. When el Bulli is shut, he travels constantly – giving lectures, promoting his range of cookbooks and discussing his culinary philosophy.
The waiters in the London restaurant tip toe around him nervously, and the kitchen must have been terrified when Adrià proceeds to order simply the first three starters from the menu.
Yet when the conversation turns to creativity and – his favourite word – «vanguardia«, innovation, his eyes light up, and he begins to gesticulate wildly with his hands.
«Innovation, being avant garde, is always polemic,» he said. «Otherwise, then it’s not innovative. People always say ‘Ferran just does foam’. But I like to surprise.»
Last week Mr Adrià surprised the culinary world once again, detailing his plans for «el Bulli Foundation». When the restaurant closes in its current form on July 30, it will begin its transformation into what he calls «a centre for culinary creativity».
The location will remain the same – at Cala Monjoi, near the Catalan town of Roses – but the building will be transformed into a sort of culinary laboratory. The car park, he told The Sunday Telegraph, will become a swimming pool – a symbol of the new playfulness of the site.
From 2014 onwards, the plan is for teams of 15 people – mainly chefs, but also other creative people, engineers, journalists, and artists – to study alongside Mr Adrià and his team. From applications posted online, Mr Adrià and his colleagues will select «creatives» for their seasons of brainstorming, reviewing technical processes, and trying new ideas in the laboratory.
All of their work will be posted online, as a way of sharing their processes and cataloguing the 1,800 recipes that el Bulli has already developed.
As a creative force, he has been compared to Picasso and Dali. His biographer, Colman Andrews, an American food writer, said: «The thing you have to realise is that he never stops. While we are sitting here eating and talking, I guarantee that he has had ten other ideas.»
He may be stepping down from the stove, but he is not calming his creative fizz. «That’s what I like – obsession, passion. I’m going to create a centre for culinary magic.»
And how does he feel about the comparisons with his fellow mercurial Spaniard, Pablo Picasso?
«I can’t think about it too much. Otherwise I’d go mad. If I sit down and think too hard about everything that’s happened to me – I’d go crazy. I have enough going on in my head already.»