Chef Eneko Atxa of Azurmendi - Biography
Larrabetzu (near Bilbao), Spain
Born in 1977 and raised in the Basque Country of Spain, Eneko Atxa hails from a family that always placed value in good food and good eating. At the age of 15, he embarked on his career as a chef at the Catering College of Leoia in the province of Biscay. After graduation, he honed his skills in fine dining and began his journey into haute cuisine as a cook under Chef Martín Berasategui at his eponymous restaurant in Lasarte. He then continued on with greater responsibility at locally revered restaurants Etxebarri and Andra Mari. As these early years of his career passed, he began to develop his culinary personality and style, driven by deep curiosity and passion.
In 2005, Atxa’s path led him to open his own restaurant, Azurmendi, in a tucked-away spot of dense woods just 10 minutes outside of Bilbao. Since then, the chef has garnered a number of awards, including “Best Chef” by local, national, and international bodies, including the Fourchettes French gourmet guide, along with the “Most Beautiful Dish” by Lo Mejor de la Gastronomía in 2010. Just five years after opening, Azurmendi was awarded its second Michelin star in November 2010, becoming the first restaurant in the Biscay province with two Michelin stars.
Together with the Universidad de País Vasco (the leading Basque university) and the Alicia Foundation, Atxa has installed a research facility in the restaurant as a base from which to launch a variety of projects, all focused on the connection between food and the senses. Some of the projects currently in development include 3D essences in food and the use of ultrasonic equipment in the kitchen to capture and transmit natural essences and aromas.
Madrid Fusion 2009 kicked off with Chef Atxa’s crowd-wowing debut of his work with ultrasonic equipment and its implications in low-temperature cooking, earning praise from, among others, Chef Yoshihiro Murata of Japan. Murata was intrigued enough to journey with Atxa to Azurmendi in Bilbao for a closer look, and later named Atxa as one of the world’s 100 most influential up-and-coming chefs in the 2010 edition of Coco by Phaidon: The Global Culinary Yearbook.
Currently, Atxa is working together with the brand new Basque Culinary Center together with Chefs Juan Mari Arzak, Pedro Subijana, Martín Berasategui, Hilario Arbelaitz, Karlos Arguiñano, and Andoni Luis Aduriz to promote passion for food from a Basque perspective. Atxa’s wish is for the diner to “experience food with all five senses,” and his mission is to transport the diner to a chosen space and time via each dish.