Eneko Atxa, Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, Spain

The  Staff Canteen

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Eneko Atxa is the chef at the Azurmendi restaurant based in Larrabetzu situated just outside the Spanish city of Bilbao. Eneko made history when Azurmendi was the first restaurant in Biscay to be awarded three Michelin stars. azurmendiThe Azurmendi restaurant opened it's doors in 2005 and is the 38-year-old's first restaurant. Due to Eneko's pioneering techniques and style of cooking the Azurmendi has become one of the most celebrated Basque inspired restaurants in the world. It was voted as one of the top 100 restaurants in the world at the San Pellegrino 2015 World’s Best Awards. Eneko's passion for food stems from his humble upbringing and love of home cooked food which has brought him wide spread recognition as one one of the world's leading chefs in international cuisine. The Basque native has been cooking from the tender age of 15 and has travelled the globe to bring new ideas and cutting edge techniques to the culinary world but insists greeting customers as soon as they walk through the door is, above all else, the most important and imminent part of the day. He says "Everyday we step away from all of the prizes and awards and compliments previously bestowed upon us. "We must deserve them all over again. We start from zero." oysterThere's no question that Eneko's dishes stem from his cultural roots owing a lot to his Basque heritage. When he sets out to create a new dish or menu he cites the change in the season as the most important influence behind the recipe using seasonal ingredients at the heart of each creation. He said: "We work with different products in each of the seasons, it's like we're compelled to work with them. "In each season we find unique produce which we've been waiting for all year. For example when Autumn arrives I always want to work with mushrooms or I want to use game." A keen globe trotter, he gets most of his inspiration from his travels where he gets to explore some of the finest foods the world has to offer. He also feels inspired by his family and friends trying to recapture tastes and smells that brought him joy and happiness from his youth. Inevitably this is something that Eneko wants his customers to feel when they dine at Azurmendi. He doesn't just want them to experience the food but the entire atmosphere that comes with it and it's cultural significance. Eneko wants his customers to be immersed in their surroundings which is exactly what happens as soon as they step foot into the eco-friendly, sustainable building that Ekeno himself refers to as 'home'. tomato dishAs they enter, customers embark on an atmospheric journey. Before sitting down to dine they are firstly shown around the vegetable gardens as well as the research centre before moving on to the interior gardens where they can sit and relax while they enjoy small canapes and various forms of art such as paintings and poems. Guests are even taken to the kitchen so they can form a connection between their environment and their food. He says "The kitchen is connected to the client from the moment they arrive right up until they sit down." Eneko's intricate method of cooking is evident on the menu at Azurmendi. Guests can experience a range of dishes that perfectly reflect both the Basque culture and Eneko's philosophy for pushing the boundaries. His tomato and eel dish is a selection of three locally sourced tomatoes that are each prepared in their own unique way in order to highlight the distinct flavours. His coconut and passion fruit dish is intentionally placed in the middle of the menu to help the customer transition from savory to sweet offering a refreshing dessert that makes up the final chapter of the menu. By Michael Parker
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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 12th January 2016

Eneko Atxa, Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, Spain

IN ASSOCIATION WITH