Juan Mari Arzak

Juan Mari Arzak
A close-up of Juan Mari Arzak

Juan Mari Arzak

Ever curious, mischievous and daring, Juan-Mari Arzak put Basque Spain at the forefront of modern gastronomy and, remains, in his 70s a collaborative creative powerhouse to be reckoned with working in tandem with his daughter Elena at Restaurant Arzak. Juan-Mari Arzak was born into restaurants and into the home which still houses Restuarant Arzak. Built in 1897 by his grandparents José María Arzak Etxabe and Escolástica Lete, as a wine cellar and tavern at Alto de Miracruz, in the village of Alza, now part of San Sebastian. The site remained a tavern until his parents, Juan Ramón Arzak and Francisca

Arratibel took over. Together they turned it into a simple, yet well thought of restaurant whose reputation spread wide, especially for preparing banquets for family celebrations. 

After the early death of Juan’s father, his mother continued to run the restaurant and it became highly respected. 

In 1966, having finishing his studies at the school of hotel and restaurant management in Madrid, the military service and a number of incredibly prestigious internships abroad including Paul Bocuse and Alain Senderens, Juan started working at the restaurant. In the beginning he specialized in grilled meats over charcoal fire. Arzak enthusiastically acknowledges his mother’s role in teaching him about gastronomy. Gradually, his curiosity drove him to work on dishes of his own creation, always inspired by and within the framework of Basque cuisine.

In 1967 Maite Espina, his wife, joined the restaurant and took the lead on the style, interior decoration and service. They have two daughters, Elena now runs the restaurant whilst her sister has a senior role at The Guggenheim museum. From the mid 70s, Restaurant Arzak started to receive prizes and awards which reaffirmed Juan-Mari’s efforts to convert Restaurante Arzak into a gastronomic reference both nationally and internationally. In 1989 the restaurant received the sought after third star from the Michelin guide. Juan-Mari has received countless awards and prizes both in Spain and around the world recognising his pivotal role as the father of modern Spanish cuisine. 

SIGNATURE DISHES

  • Sea bass at its peak Sea bass with its own collagen enhancing its texture and beauty. 
  • Yellow crab Spider crab camoflages with sea bottom. We highlight it with colour, cooked with its own interiors and mezquita tree powder.
  • Lobster with leek and banana Lobster with leek, irreplaceable in our cuisine, at low cooking time and loom shaped
  • A tribute to the maple and the apple Sauteed apples with maple leaf and “crispy bark”
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