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My parents worked at the Bodegón Alexandro, in the heart of the old town in San Sebastian. I started cooking with my mother and my aunt Maria Gabriela when I was about 14. I’ve had a love of cooking in my blood since I was a child. I learnt to make cakes and pastries with André Mandion in Anglet. Later, François Brouchican taught me about meat and how to handle ducks and geese. Then he sent me off to Didier Oudil, who has worked as a chef with Michel Guérard for 16 years. I opened my restaurant in Lasarte in May 1993. It was my apprenticeship as a pastry chef that taught me the rigour you need to get good results in the kitchen. Being disciplined is actually far more important than a particular technique or how talented you are. My cooking is about trying to achieve perfection on a consistent basis, so that every customer who leaves the restaurant has had the unique experience they dreamed of.
I’ve been able to explore various ways to cook prawns, featuring them in sophisticated recipes — as a carpaccio, nearly raw, marinated, grilled — and with many different textures. Of course, I also cook them very often at home, using simpler recipes.
I grew up in a bodegón (bar and eatery) in San Sebastián that served working-class cuisine with lots of fish and seafood dishes. I have always been fortunate enough to have a network of suppliers who can provide the kind of prawns that I want — I am very demanding about their size and quality.