What inspired you to become a chef?
I can´t even remember. Since I was a boy, at home we would celebrate every event with all the protocol of a great meal. It was like a game. I would help my father, who was the one in charge of the celebrations.

Tell us more about your culinary background, where did you train?
I studied Bachiller (high school) in Marianistas and when I finished Preu (Senior Year) I was going to the University of Navarra to study Medicine. But then I found out that a Madrid School of Tourism and Hospitality existed and I went there.

After that, another school opened in Zarautz and I came back and stayed with Luis Irizar. I graduated as the first of the promotion and stayed as a teacher. María Cristina in Donostia, Mesón Idiáquez in Tolosa, Frontón de Galarreta in Hernani, Zalacain in Madrid, Irache in Estella and Akelarre in Donostia, where I´ve been for more than 40 years now. 

Describe your cooking style in three words
With Basque identity, respecting tradition, with freedom and restless.

Do you have any role models?
I’m not a mythomaniac but I admire lots of chefs and colleagues. I´d love to have a little bit of each one.

Name us three of your favourite restaurants
This is very limited. If I can only name three: Berasategui, Arzak, Zuberoa and Mugaritz. I’m sorry, mine first

What keeps you inspired?
Anything. I can be happy but never satisfied.

What’s your favourite spring ingredient?
Tear Peas from our coast. And any vegetable.

What’s next on the cards?
We change our menu constantly. But we were pioneers into having 3 tasting menus to choose from. This year we will remove the a la carte choice. Only those three menus, where we can make small changes.

Words by Sophie Ritchie