There must be something in the water in the Basque region of northern Spain to produce so much talent in one small region. Martín Berasategui, born and bred in San Sebastián, Spain (the home of the Arzaks, Pedro Subijana, and Andoni Aduriz), is a name synonymous with innovation and regional specialty. He has helped elevate his native Basque cuisine to a new level, and carved out a spot for himself on the international culinary stage in the process.
Although fame and multiple restaurants didn’t come without a lot of singed knuckles and experimentation, you could say that cooking came naturally to Berasategui. He was born in 1960 in San Sebastián, where his family ran the restaurant el Bodegón Alejandro. Berasategui started helping out at the restaurant when was 13 years old. At age 17 he enrolled at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Pâtisserie in Yssingeaux, France, apprenticed as a pastry chef, and then pursued the savory side of the kitchen. He remained in France to work in various culinary outlets: a butcher, bakeries, with Jean Paul Heinard, André Mandion, François Brouchican, under the wing of Michel Guérard’s right-hand chef, Didier Oudill, and Alain Ducasse at Louis XV in Monaco.
In 1981, Berasategui, only 20 years old, took over el Bodegón Alejandro; five years later he received his first Michelin star. In 1993, the chef opened his flagship restaurant, Restaurante Martín Berasategui, in Lasarte. The restaurant has maintained its three-star rating from Michelin since 2001, and has garnered a host of other accolades over the years: the 1997 Grand Prix of the Art of Cooking by the International Academy of Gastronomy; 18 out of 20 rating by Gault & Millau in 1998; and three suns in the Campsa Guide.
Berasategui himself has also been the recipient of numerous awards, including Spanish Chef 1996 by the Spanish Academy of Gastronomy, the Euskadi Award by the Basque Academy of Gastronomy, and the 2005 San Sebastián Tambor de Oro.
His restaurant group MB manages el Bodegón Alejandro, the Guggenheim Bilbao restaurant, Kursaal, Mugaritz, and Restaurant Martin in Shanghai, to name just a few. Additionally, he is the culinary advisor to the two-star Michelin-rated Lasarte at the Hotel Condes de Barcelona, the Michelin-starred M.B of ABAMA Resort, and EME Catedral Hotel in Sevilla.