Last week I told you I was going to spend at least three months in Europe this summer doing stages at two restaurants. I named Restaurant Amador in Mannheim, Germany, as my first stop, but at the time was unable to officially name the second one. I wrote that it was in San Sebastián, a wonderful city in the north of Spain that is producing some of the finest food to be had anywhere.
I can now let you know the name of my second stop, and I am excited, and thrilled, and just a little bit in awe, because the two chefs at Arzak, Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena, are, to put it simply, geniuses.
Juan Mari Arzak, one of the fathers of New Basque Cuisine, is also one of the most influential and respected chefs in the world, and began cooking at Arzak, where his mother still worked, in 1966. Since then, culinary history has been unfolding there on a nightly basis. Elena Arzak joined the staff at Arzak after attending school in Switzerland and working at, among other restaurants, elBulli and Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire. The pair’s passion for learning, and teaching, has inspired many, and their respect for food and the land from which it comes is immense.
I am a lucky man.