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Discover all our Chefs
Relais & Châteaux Chef

Juan Mari & Elena Arzak

Chefs - Relais & Châteaux

Juan Mari & Elena Arzak
Restaurante Arzak
Member Relais & Châteaux from 1979
Alcalde José Elósegui, 273
E-20015 (Alto de Miracruz 21) Donostia San Sebastián
Spain

RESTAURANT

Restaurante Arzak

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Story of a Chef

Juan Mari: I was born in the family restaurant founded by my grandfather José María in 1897. My father Juan Ramón, who succeeded him, died in 1951. He was replaced by my mother Francisca and, in turn, I replaced her in 1967. After hotel management school in Madrid, I trained with a number of famous French chefs such as Bocuse, Troisgros, Senderens, Boyer, Arrambide. Hotel school taught me that I had the vocation to be a chef: my training in France taught me that cooking was more than a profession, it was a passion.What I aim to do: produce an author’s cuisine, with a Basque dimension, green sauce, cod Pil-pil and hake “kokotchas”. In short, combine traditional cuisine with research and make it avant-garde.Elena: From my earliest years, my family gave me a love for cooking. When I finished secondary school in San Sebastián at the age of 18 I went to the hotel management school in Lucerne in Switzerland and then I went to train at the top restaurants in France and Europe, to Gagnaire, Bras, El Bulli, Dutournier. I have very good memories of all these places where I had some very important experiences. When I returned to the family business, my parents and the staff taught me how to manage alongside them.My father and I work as a duo and have done for many years now. Life in the kitchen is very intense. I am very sentimental and not a day passes where I’m not moved by something. We create an author’s cuisine: a Basque cuisine with research, innovation and a desire to be avant-garde, without turning our backs on local traditions.

Prawns - What is your Chef’s secret to preparing your star ingredient?

We cook them in a lot of different ways, always trying to be as creative as possible. I especially like to coat them completely with salt and then grill them.

How do you go about selecting your ingredients?

We do not live in a prawn-fishing area. Sometimes we order white prawns from Huelva and sometimes the red variety from Alicante or Rosas (Costa Brava). Those two varieties are delicious — I like them both. The white ones have a very subtle flavor, while the red prawns have a more intense, highly distinctive taste.

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