Elena Arzak: History of Arzak

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th November 2014
Elena ArzakIn celebration of our featured chef Elena Arzak we've had a look at the history of the renowned three Michelin star restaurant Arzak in San Sebastian, where she works as joint chef with her father Juan Mari Arzak serving Basque cuisine. The restaurant Arzak started out as a wine cellar and tavern in 1897, built by the grandparents of the famous chef Juan Mari Arzak. The tavern was very popular among the people of the village of Alza, which is now part of San Sebastian, until Juan Mari’s parents Juan Ramón Arzak and Francisca Arratibel took over the tavern and turned it into a restaurant. Francisca Arratibel, also called Paquita, was the chef and was instrumental in turning the restaurant into what it is known for today. Juan Maria Arzak was born in 1942 and, after his father died when Juan was just nine years old, his mother took over the management of the restaurant. She changed the name to Viuda de Arzak (Arzak’s widow) and the restaurant became even more successful and particularly popular for celebrations. It is said that wedding dates were decided according to the availability of the restaurant. Juan Mari Arzak After Juan Mari studied hotel and restaurant management in Madrid, he took over the family restaurant in 1966, where his mother Paquita still worked. In 1974, Juan Mari was awarded the national gastronomy prize and his first Michelin star. In the 1970s, the New Basque movement evolved with Juan Mari Arzak and Pedro Subijana as the leaders. This initiative started after the “Round Table on Gastronomy I” was called by the “Club de Gourmets” magazine. Arzak and Subijana were encouraged to go to France and learn the techniques of the “Nouvelle Cuisine” and brought their knowledge back to Spain. They did a lot of research and, with other members of the movement, came up with new ingredients, new combinations and different ways of preparing food, therefore changing Basque cuisine. Arzak - Credit to Worlds 50 Best From March 1977 onwards, every month there was a dinner held at each restaurant of the movement’s participants. The movement started spontaneously and without any strategy; but it was successful. The second symposium of the Round Table was to be on “regional cuisines” and the Basque culinary tradition; the new Basque cuisine had became known worldwide. In 1989, Arzak received its third Michelin star, being the first Spanish restaurant to receive three stars, and has held them ever since. Juan Mari is now joint chef with his daughter Elena. She studied Hotel and Restaurant Management in Lucerne, Switzerland and worked in prestigious restaurants all over Europe. Together they developed Arzak’s cuisine further and mixed Basque tradition with modern influences. Arzak Instruction team hi res Their great success enabled them to open another restaurant, “Ametsa with Arzak Instruction”, in the Halkin Hotel in London in 2013. Juan Mari and Elena Arzak have developed all the dishes being served in their second restaurant, but continue to work in San Sebastian together. The Ametsa cuisine also focuses on Basque food, but uses regional British ingredients. Therefore, the restaurant has a different style than the original Arzak in San Sebastian. Head chef is Spanish Sergio Sanz Blanco, who received his first Michelin star in September 2013 with the Ametsa restaurant. By Vera Kleinken Have you ever been to restaurant Arzak? Or experienced either Elena or Juan's cooking? Let us know in the comments below.

In these challenging times…

…the hospitality landscape has dramatically changed in the last two months, and with that our advertising revenues have all but expired, significantly impacting our business. Despite having to furlough a large portion of our staff, we are still delivering the valuable content and honest information, which hundreds of thousands of you come to The Staff Canteen for. We believe we have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs, are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector.

Your financial support means we remain independent and open to all. We were launched by a chef and remain the voice of chefs and other hospitality professionals.

We need your support to keep delivering the products and content that you love, giving you the platform to share opinions and inspiration. Every contribution whether big or small, means so much.
Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th November 2014

Elena Arzak: History of Arzak