Victor Arguinzoniz

Etxebarri

plaza San Juan, 1
località Axpe
Atxondo
Spagna
T. +34.94.6583042

One learns to be a chef but roasters are natural born: it’s a notorious quotation by Brillat-Savarin. Which means that instinct orders around smokes, scrap irons and flames that takes us to a ritual atmosphere. There’s nothing more modern than this concept, we would say after visiting Victor Arguinzoniz. He’s the Bask grill artist, the one who couldn’t duck journalist pilgrimages, a good ranking among the 50 Best World Restaurant and, last year, a daring Michelin star upon the embers.

An intense, gray and ancestral perfume emerges all of a sudden out of that little house surrounded by sheeps as, on the ground floor, people speak aloud and drink by glass. Inside, Victor has been moved by the sacred fire of experimentation for the past 20 years. “The cuisine of prehistory”, it has been said. But he came to this point self-taught: “When I was a kid, electricity used to come off often, this is why I had to acquainted myself with grill”.
After ten years with charcoal and local specialties, 10 years ago he turned to woods and research. Every year he develops new products, closer to provocation, oxymoron and virtuosity, like oysters and caviar; but also raw materials to maximize (fishes swimming into ponds, kitchen garden vegetables, home-made cochonailles or 20 years old beef meat). And then woods and grills, garage-door shaped in order to regulate the distance/temperature or with two fires (plus two ovens for the grill), an ingenious invention from a roaster-bricoleur.

His upsetting grilled desserts are the litmus paper of a talent able to short-circuitize the future with the memoirs of humanity. But there’s no reason to feel astonished: once the technological and darwinian avant-garde fire is off, the coolest stuff comes from the “neo-primitives”, like that German artist groups at the beginning of last century. On a gastronomic view, it’s a transnational and transverse movement striving to suck energies from the origins.

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Alessandra Meldolesi

Umbra di Perugia con residenza a Bologna, è giornalista e scrittrice di cucina. Tra i numeri volumi tradotti e curati, spicca "6, autoritratto della Cucina Italiana d’Avanguardia" per Cucina & Vini