avenida Alcalde Elosegui, 273
Those who never went eating at Arzak, a restaurant but first of all a charismatic figure of vanguard cuisine, embodied today by his daughter Elena like if she were the tenth muse, will never experience the real soul of Euskadi. His book Asfalto Culinario (the best cookbook title ever) is a very long and crowded ribbon, a theater of rumbling crashes, breathless tailspins, goudron-like exhalations and passages with pit-stops once in a while. That’s because the Arzaks come from far away and will go further, animated by a Kerouac spirit, by a feeling of beatitude like the famous beatnik.
The trip started more than a century ago with “she-chefs”: Escolastica and then Francisca, sort of Lyon Mothers moved to the other side of the Pyrenées with their sapid regional cuisine. That happened until – I was told by a San Sebastian taxi driver – gastronomy universe started wearing pants: it was a male revolution, with Juan Mari on the frontline. His first step in the family restaurant was taken in 1966, after the school and the army, handling roast meat like a legendary rôtisseur…
Some years later he was already putting up plans with Pedro Subjiana in order to give birth to a Nueva Cocina Basca, a gastronomic movement that, following the patterns of Gault et Millau and Paul Bocuse’s gasconades, strived to modernize and renew an aged cooking repertoire.
In 1989 the Stars were 3 already but soon the idea of vanguard cuisine started tempting him irresistibly. It’s not an accident that he’s a long-time friend with Ferran Adrià, with whom Juan Mari wrote Celebrar el milenio con Arzak y Adrià.
Today Arzak techniques are very pragmatic: be it aire, foam or consommé, it must just taste good. And this will rule at least until his daughter Elena, already at work with Ferran Adrià, Pierre Gagnaire and Maurizio Santin won’t be sitting on the throne to make a woman rule again. «Because young people are always right», says Juan Marì.
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
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