Chef Juan Mari Arzak of Restaurante Arzak - Biography

San Sebastian, Spain

August 2010

Many of Juan Mari Arzak's first memories took place at the Restaurante Arzak—in many ways, it is the history of the Arzak family. The house was built in 1897 by Arzak's grandparents, José Maria Arzak Etxabe and Escolastica Lete, as a wine inn and tavern in the village of Alza, now belonging to San Sebastian.

In 1966, after Arzak's studies at the School of Hostelería, the compulsory military service, he started working at the restaurant. In the beginning he specialized in charcoal-roasted meat, learning from his mother. Soon after, in 1967, Maite Espina became part of the restaurant. Together Arzak and Espina are still striving to improve the restaurant, but Arzak's love of new Basque cuisine has evolved into a new style that is still being developed by the next generation of Arzaks. In 1989 Restaurante Arzak received three stars in the Michelin Guide.