|A Monk in the Kitchen: Andoni Luis Aduriz
by Katherine Martinelli; contributions from Grace Nguyen
A protégé of Adriá, and a veteran of kitchens run by Berasategui, Arzak, and Subijana, Andoni Luis Aduriz has come into his own. Quickly rising to the ranks of the world’s most respected chefs, Aduriz has become famous for his playful, investigative approach to food. Half mad scientist and half culinary prodigy, Aduriz has bridged the gap between cook and chemist, all with the humility, quietude, and zen of a monk. Despite his young age, Andoni Luis Aduriz has already been through many stages of discovery and growth. And Mugaritz, his enigmatic and highly acclaimed restaurant nestled in the Basque countryside, has evolved with him.
Mugaritz opened in 1998 and is hardly a restaurant one just stumbles upon. Located atop a country hillside, thirty minutes outside the city of San Sebastian, the majority of Aduriz’s guests have planned their vacation around one dinner at the farmhouse. They’ve come to experience what Aduriz is best known for: local and hyper-seasonal cuisine that is progressive, innovative, and tied deeply to the earth.
Aduriz picks a topic of interest, masters it, and moves on, but never forgets or abandons what he has learned. “This drive to evolve is the most human thing,” Aduriz explains. “We enjoy reinventing and bettering ourselves.” In 2003, for example, he published Tabula Bacalao, a highly regarded treatise on codfish. That same year Aduriz shifted his focus to foie gras, publishing Foie Gras. His interest then turned to flowers, perfumes, essences, and the interplay between scent and flavor. He believes that knowing the chemical components of scents can lead to novel and remarkably delectable food pairings, leading to the publication of Diccionario Botánico Para Cocineros (2007).
Despite these remarkable culinary advancements, however, no innovation has been quite so iconic as his development of potato stones and chocolate bubbles. One of the first chefs to work with clay, Aduriz presents simple potatoes that resemble shiny rocks, but actually have a creamy texture and luscious taste. “They surprise you and put you at ease at the same time,” he explains, “because you realize you’ve been fooled by simple potatoes. At the same time, they are simple, poetic, and practical.” Such is the essence of Aduriz’s cooking: adventurous and amusing, with an enduring focus on flavor and experience. Aduriz’s chocolate bubbles, crafted using xantham gum and a fish tank bubbler, are always entertaining. The airy spheres maintain their shape on the plate long enough to be served, and then burst playfully over the dessert they were hiding.
Regardless of what Aduriz chooses to explore, his philosophy remains rooted in respecting nature’s bounty, as exemplified by Mugaritz. With a backdrop of rolling hills and farmland, the restaurant resembles a rustic countryside farmhouse. Behind Mugaritz is an herb and vegetable garden that supplies the restaurant. Aduriz also forages the surrounding area for wild mushrooms, flowers, leaves, and plants. This avant garde ground-breaker has one foot in the lab and one foot in the earth. The culinary world waits with bated breath for the next step in his evolution.
Otzazulueta Baserria, Aldura Aldea 20
20100 Errenteria Gipuzkoa, Spain
+34 (943) 522-455