Father of New Basque Cuisine given Lifetime Achievement Award
Monday 11 April 2011
A third-generation Spanish chef described as a gastronomic ambassador for his regional Basque cuisine has been chosen to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award this year.
Long before the likes of Ferran Adrià or Grant Achatz, Juan Mari Arzak of Arzak restaurant in San Sebastian was already playing with fire - and liquid nitrogen.
Known as the father of New Basque Cuisine, Arzak is credited for putting Spanish chefs on a bold new trajectory that reinterpreted old, traditional classics and paved the way for molecular gastronomy as it's known today.
The Lifetime Achievement Award by S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards puts Arzak in the company of a small exclusive club of chefs recognized for being pioneers and culinary artisans throughout their careers. A list that includes Joel Robuchon, Paul Bocuse, Eckart Witzigmann and Alice Waters.
The announcement, made Monday, comes in advance of the awards gala which will be held in London's Guildhall April 18 and names the best restaurants in the world.
His daughter Elena Arzak was also shortlisted for the World's Best Female Chef this year but lost to France's Anne-Sophie Pic. It was the first time a female chef category had been created.
Since taking over his family's restaurant in 1966, Arzak's kitchen has revolved around two intimate and highly personal themes: his birthplace and family.
Under Arzak's direction, what began as a simple neighbourhood tavern run by his grandparents evolved into a fine-dining, Michelin-starred restaurant where he would lay down roots of the new, game-changing cuisine for Spain.
The same principle used more than 30 years ago applies today in Arzak's kitchen. Food is constantly reinvented through experimentation and freedom of culinary expression, or what Arzak calls "investigation."
Some of the staple menu items include fresh oysters, crayfish, and fish soup. Hake, stuffed sweet peppers, pheasant and partridge are also classic Arzak dishes. The restaurant was ranked No. 9 in last year's S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards.
A 16-course tasting menu at Arzak is about €155 without wine and tip.
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