Known as godfather of New Basque cuisine, Juan Marí Arzak is still cooking, alongside his talented daughter Elena, in the same restaurant in Guipuzcoa, San Sebastián that was built by his grandparents in 1897. While the dishes created by the lauded father and daughter team are based around market produce (think summer line caught squid, local eggs and bonito) and strongly connected to the Basque cooking tradition, the pair very much take their lead from modern technique and create progressive, often avant garde dishes like ‘smoked cinnamon with tuna’ or ‘lobster corraline’. Arzak is currently positioned as number 8 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list and has held three Michelin stars since 1989. Having opened London-based restaurant Ametsa in , the fine dining eatery was awarded its first Michelin star in 2014.
What are your first memories of being interested in food?
I was born in the restaurant (Arzak) and spent almost every weekend and holiday there. I was always cooking and helping my mum who held a lot of banquets and celebrations. I would help with the starters, man the bar or do whatever needed to be done. I remember one task: having to find loose clams in the cooking pot, and putting them back in their shells.
How would you describe your approach to each dish?
We use seasonal raw and local products (meat, fish etc.) with 0km. Ingredients are a totally other subject; they come from all over the world. When your products are local, you have to add details that will complement the culture of where the dish is from with ingredients.
What are your most indispensible ingredients?
Garlic, oil and parsley.
Do you consider yourself more of a scientist or craftsman?
I’m a cook! Or maybe an artisanal scientist.
- 3 Michelin stars | Arzak
- 1 Michelin star | Ametsa
- #8 | World’s 50 Best Restaurant | Arzak
- Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef 2012 | Elena Arzak
Avenida del Alcalde José Elosegi, 273
20015 San Sebastián
The Halkin by COMO