The world's most innovative chef has released a seven-volume set — you just can't use the recipes

By Nina Terrero
Updated March 21, 2014 at 04:00 AM EDT

Ferran Adrià’s avant-garde cuisine — frothy foams, fine powders, whimsical jellies, and perfectly symmetrical cubes — earned his Spanish restaurant elBulli three Michelin stars and the distinction of being named the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine.

For those who weren’t able to visit elBulli before it closed in 2011 — it had a million reservation requests every year and could accommodate only a fraction of them — Adrià now offers a taste of his inventive technique with a seven-volume cookbook set, elBulli 2005-2011. But at $625, it costs more than dinner at the restaurant would have — and what’s more, you probably won’t be able to make the recipes at home unless you have a sous vide machine and access to pretty unusual ingredients. “This isn’t meant as a cookbook,” says Adrià. “This is so people can understand what we did and the process of how we created these dishes.”

The books catalog every dish served during elBulli’s final seven years, complete with color photographs and an analysis of molecular gastronomy. Weighing 40 pounds, the collection is Phaidon’s most expensive release of the season. “There’s only been a few books like this that can command high prices,” says co-publisher Emilia Terragni. If you’re interested in modern cuisine, buy it — but keep some extra cash on hand so you can eat takeout while you’re thumbing through it.