TO the dismay of millions of diners who have been unable to get a seat at the world`s best restaurant, Spain`s El Bulli is to close, according to The Australian.

Chef and owner Ferran Adria announced yesterday that he would shut the restaurant for two years from 2012, saying he wanted a normal life after 25 years of focusing on the restaurant.

Adria, whose experimental molecular cuisine has afforded him rock star status among the world`s chefs, said the restaurant would honour bookings already taken and open from June 15 to December 20 this year, with 2011 dates to be decided in September.

He cited "personal reasons" for his decision to stop serving food at the small restaurant on the outskirts of Barcelona.

"I don`t want to go to the Bahamas on holiday, I don`t want to take a sabbatical, but I think we all deserve to have normal lives," Adria said. "For 25 years we`ve been focusing totally on cooking and the restaurant." He refused to rule out El Bulli opening in a different guise after 2013, but could not confirm it would still serve food, despite the restaurant regularly receiving reservation requests from up to two million people a year, and being able to accommodate only 8000 of them.

"We will start from tomorrow to study all possible (future) formats," the 47-year-old said at the Madrid Fusion international food conference, a gathering of haute cuisine chefs from around the world. Three Australians, Mark Best, Ben Shewry and Cheong Liew, are included this year.

Industry sources told The Australian Adria was keen to focus his energies on establishing a world-class training and research facility, possibly on the El Bulli site, which would attract top chefs from around the globe.

Adria is already active in this area, running his own cuisine "laboratory"during the six months a year the restaurant is closed, and collaborating with Spain`s Alicia Foundation.

"I want to keep being creative in cuisine," Adria said. "I`m not retiring, I`m going to continue sharing El Bulli, I just don`t know how. The Rolling Stones no longer give 60 concerts a year -- this will be much freer for me."

By  Michelle Rowe, The Australian