Juan Mari Arzak

Juan Mari Arzak has a flavor lab above his restaurant with a library of over 1,000 ingredients. There’s a reason why this chef is called “the father of modern Spanish cuisine.” He has been at the very cutting edge of Spanish cuisine for over three decades; some even credit him for being one of the catalysts of the Spanish culinary revolution—no small task.

Born in San Sebastian, Spain, Arzak completed his studies at La Escuala de Hosteleria. After compulsory military service and traveling and working abroad, Arzak returned home to work at the family restaurant Arzak,which has been in his family since 1897. Arzak slowly transformed the restaurant’s style and cuisine, and by the mid-70s he began to receive awards and distinction for his innovation and ultramodern cuisine—the beginning of the New Basque Kitchen movement and what would grow into a worldwide culinary revolution.

Arzak combines staples of the Basque culinary legacy with many new creations of his own. While his cuisine is rooted in tradition and local ingredients, Arzak plays with his food, incorporating surprising elements like white clay into dishes.

In 1989, Arzak became a member of Traditions et Qualité and received its third Michelin Star, which it has maintained since. More recently, Chef Arzak was awarded the Grand Prize of the Art of the Kitchen by the European Academy of Gastronomy in 1999, the International “Trophée Gourmet” in 2008, and has received A La Carte Magazine’s “Special Prize in Gastronomy” also in 2008. Arzak was the recipient of the 2008 “Universal Basque Award” from the Basque independent Government and received a “Top Chef” award at the 2009 Madrid Fusion.