Oddly Enough

Gourmet on tour disappears from renowned restaurant

MADRID (Reuters) - A Swiss motorcycle courier on a gourmet tour of the world’s best restaurants has not been seen since he disappeared from the renowned “El Bulli” near Barcelona, Spain, seven weeks ago.

“He got up from the table to look for some business cards and did not come back,” El Bulli manager Juli Soler told El Pais newspaper.

Spanish police have mounted a search for Henry Pascal, 46, but a spokesman declined to comment on whether the food fan might have simply skipped off without paying.

“The restaurant informed us of what happened and we later heard through Interpol that he was a missing person,” the spokesman said on Sunday.

Soler, however, doubted Pascal had fled as he left behind a notebook with a menu hand-written by each of the three-star chefs who had served him.

“If you’re writing a book, you don’t leave that behind,” Soler told Barcelona paper La Vanguardia.

Media reports said Pascal worked as a messenger. He had decided to spend his savings at each of the 68 restaurants in the world to have garnered the prestigious Michelin Guide’s top three-star rating.

He was last seen at El Bulli, ranked as the world’s best by Britain’s Restaurant magazine, on June 12. He had a reservation for June 14 at the Arzak restaurant in San Sebastian but failed to show up.

A dinner at El Bulli costs around 230 euros ($360) and El Pais estimated the tour would have cost 17,000 euros in restaurant bills alone.

El Bulli was the 40th three-star restaurant Pascal had patronized on a tour which began on May 5 and covered France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and Germany as well as Spain.

Pascal is reported to have left one restaurant in France on a scooter. He has also been pictured alongside eminent French chef Paul Bocuse, who was said to have recommended him as a client to other restaurant owners.

El Bulli is booked solid from April to October, when chef Ferran Adria closes for five months so he can create new dishes.

Adria’s avant-garde creations, often based on distilling flavors into gels and foams, drew criticism in a recent book by fellow three-star Michelin cook Santi Santamaria as pretentious.

Reporting by Martin Roberts; Editing by Angus MacSwan