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Andoni Luis Aduriz, the revolution of unpredictability. Challenging the obvious for 25 years

The ideas of the chef from Mugaritz from the auditorium: 'One of the things that sets us apart from other animals is the all-human ability to anticipate things that do not exist, to imagine. Those who do not care about their future have no future'.

Andoni Luis Aduriz in the centre, with Paolo March

Andoni Luis Aduriz in the centre, with Paolo Marchi on the right and journalist Rafael Tonon on the left (photo Brambilla/Serrani)

It was impossible for the apostate of Basque cuisine, the prophet of dis-algorithms, the scandalous preacher of the primacy of textures over taste, to miss the scene of a cooking congress consecrated to revolution. Had he not participated, more than an omission it would have been blasphemy.

"In 2005 he charmed us with a lecture in science and philosophy – said Paolo Marchi introducing Andoni Luis Aduriz - astonishingly ahead of its times, while our cooks struggle to overcome the wall of tradition'. The emphasis is on action in the present tense. Bread to bread and wine to wine. This was “18 years ago, 18 kilos less, and 18 million more neurons,” replied Andoni. The Mugaritz star explained how throwing one's heart over the hurdle, exercising creativity and laying the pre-conditions for the customer to actively participate in the experience is a practice consubstantial to Mugaritz itself. A state of mind, rather than an exercise in style. A necessity mirroring the evolutionary stages of society itself.

The Auditorium is packed for the talk from the Spanish chef

The Auditorium is packed for the talk from the Spanish chef

Cuisine follows the telluric movements that affect the planet, he explained, punctuating the planetary domino effect that in rapid sequence led to the French May Day (1968), the birth of Nouvelle cuisine (1972) and then the entrance by right of Basque fine dining into fine dining tout court (until then a French exclusive). It was 1976 and Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco y Bahamonde, the caudillo of Spain, had finally kicked the bucket the previous November, triggering the hunger for freedom that had clogged the lungs of an entire nation for just under forty years.

Just over twenty years later, Mugartiz opens its doors. It’s  1998 and from the outset it seems clear that they are taking wide strides, undermining commonplaces, challenging the obvious, familiarising themselves with unpredictability. But with class.  "This is the menu from the beginning," he points at the slides to support the narrative, "a seemingly canonical sequence of first courses-meat-fish-cheese-dessert.”

Not at all.  "The paradigm shift was one of subtlety, which in a world like ours full of hubbub and noise is not considered a subversive exercise. A mistake. All we did in that menu was to remove the spaces between the courses, with the result that the menu becomes longer and narrower by intensifying the dialogue between products”. That is to say, by making the hitherto considered logical sequence or the change of pace between proteins and vegetables unrecognisable.

The chef shortly before taking the stage in the auditorium

The chef shortly before taking the stage in the auditorium

This is just the beginning of a twenty-five-year journey where nothing is ever as it appears, where the Basque chef launches into the orbit of world cuisine dishes such as Edible stone (potato covered in clay), a twice provocative Michelin man of marshmallow stewed in an oxidised wine sauce, or a slap of rancid sweetness delivered with an open hand (as only Michelin can). Or the Veg carpaccio, or watermelon that looks like meat and is actually watermelon (does everyone make it now? Andoni was the first).

Chapters in a never-an-end-in-itself epic of displacement: “One of the things that sets us apart from other animals is the all-too-human ability to anticipate things that do not exist, to imagine. He who does not worry about his future has no future”.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

IG2023: ladies and gentlemen, the revolution has been served


Sonia Gioia

A journalist by profession, curious by vocation, she applies her attitude to investigative reports and food features. She's author for Repubblica, Gambero Rosso, Dispensa​


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