Cuisine according to Elena

Arzak, in the Spanish pavilion at Expo, explains her restaurant concept. We sum it up in this decalogue

20-08-2015
Elena and Juan Marì Arzak in their “Banco de Sa

Elena and Juan Marì Arzak in their “Banco de Sabores” (photo by Coconut)

«An entire World Fair dedicated to food: what else could you ask?», said Elena Arzak to the numerous audience, yesterday in the morning in the Spanish pavilion. No one uttered a word, so here’s our reply, summing up the content of her ponencia (Spanish for “lecture”, "report") dedicated to “The transcendence of gastronomy” and which finely explained the concept of cuisine and restaurant according to her or better still the Arzak’s.

Therefore, this is the answer to Arzak’s question: «We want the basic rules in fine dining explained from your special and illustrious point of view». It’s as if Elena had said everything during her speech. So here is this decalogue that is in fact a free synthesis based on her words.

1) RESPECT
«Respect culture and tradition even when you want to make avantgarde cuisine. Respect the wisdom of generations, accumulated over the years: I’m the daughter of Juan Marì not only according to the civil registry but also in the kitchen. Respect raw materials. Respect the environment».

Restaurant Arzak in San Sebastián (photo by José López)
Restaurant Arzak in San Sebastián (photo by José López)
2) BUILD LITTLE BY LITTLE
Elena Arzak shows a photo of her father together with Pedro Subijana, Paul Bocuse and Raymond Oliver. That is to say two great French chefs together with two Basque chefs, the latter being the leaders of the nueva cocina vasca: «They recuperated tradition giving value to local ingredients that had been forgotten. Then little by little they added raw materials coming from other parts of the world too». And so on, up to the current definition of Arzak’s cuisine.

3) UNDERSTANDING
«In our restaurant we created the “Banco de Sabores” which includes over 1,500 ingredients from all around the world, numbered and catalogued. We are now giving each one of them a specific QR code».

4) KNOWING HOW TO CHANGE
«You need to know how to change to second the evolution of society».

Elena Arzak’s ponencia was titled
Elena Arzak’s ponencia was titled "The transcendence of gastronomy” (photo by Passera)
5) PAY ATTENTION TO AESTHETICS
«You need to have sight involved in food too, because cooking is a multi-sensorial experience. Pay attention to colours, they are very important».

6) MAKE PEOPLE FEEL AT EASE
«The restaurant experience needs to be relaxing for the guest. We need to think about the mood of the guest too, not just the taste of the dish».

7) BE OPEN TO MULTI-DISCIPLINARITY
«We now work with nutritionists and scientists, architects and art experts. We research and therefore a connection with chemistry and physics professors from university is essential».

Bambu y kokotxas, that is to say
Bambu y kokotxas, that is to say "bamboo and codfish throats: one of the dishes exemplifying Arzak’s current research on the use of leaves in cooking (photo by Coconut)
8) FOCUS ON PLEASANTNESS
«Pleasantness is the ultimate goal of a dish, taste-wise. Then there are emotions. Finally, we need to make sure that a dish is understandable, it mustn’t be too “obscure”, people need to know what they are tasting».

9) SPECIALISE
«Task specialisation is clearly inevitable and in fact it is dutiful: only if each member is capable of excelling in his own field, a team as a whole will offer an excellent result».

10) LOOK AT THE FUTURE
«It is necessary to change and look at the future, perhaps with a better study of one’s past. In this last year we have analysed the use of leaves in the kitchen: both as an ingredient and as a cooking tool or element. We will continue this way because the study of leaves has made us understand that there are still plenty of ingredients that require a deeper and more developed knowledge. Even around us, in Europe».


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