Just two years after opening Mugaritz in 2000, Aduriz earned his first Michelin star; he nabbed another five years later, and has been on San Pellegrino's list of the World's 50 Best Restaurants
for nine years (placing sixth last year
). Even as the world waits to see what Ferran Adrià’s elBulli Foundation will become, Aduriz has picked up the culinary baton for the avant-garde in Spain — and, you could argue, for the world.
Then, of course, there’s his innovation at Mugaritz (ranked 31st
on The Daily Meal’s list of the Best Restaurants in Europe in 2014
), a former dairy in the hills above San Sebastián, on the other side of Spain from Roses, where Aduriz worked at elBulli. Of its name, he explains, "Our haritza ('oak' in Basque) is strategically situated beside the line dividing Errenteria and Astigarraga. Thus, this tree delimitates the muga (frontier) between both towns. Muga eta haritza. Mugaritz."
Taking a leaf from Ferran Adrià's book, Mugaritz closes for four months each year, during which time its team devotes itself almost exclusively to creativity. Notes the website of Mugaritz, “It's a place where we sometimes even serve meals.” It’s also the kind of restaurant that serves edible trompe-l'œil like potato “stones” and locks of “hair” made of tapenade and seaweed. You put yourself in the chef’s hands and open your mind to journeys through memory and emotion, as prepared by a modern melding of mad scientist and magician.
For his innovative thinking and approach, his leadership and creativity, and the fascinating food journeys he offers intrepid, open-minded diners, we're pleased to announce that chef Andoni Luis Aduriz was singled out by The Daily Meal as 2014’s International Chef of the Year (joined this year by The Daily Meal's 2014 American Chef of the Year Sean Brock
). A corkscrew can serve to open one of the best wines in the world, but also to kill your neighbor... with tasting menus, the same thing can happen. Some people use them to display a selection of the best dishes to their restaurant’s customers, and some people use them as a way to clean out the larder.
We reached out to bith chefs to discover where they, and along with them the state of food, may be heading. In this interview with Andoni Luis Aduriz, the chef discusses what makes the Basque Country such a culinary powerhouse, the influence of Ferran Adrià, what he’d like his legacy to be, and philosophizes about tasting menus using a corkscrew metaphor.
The Daily Meal: What is it about the Basque Country that has made it such a culinary powerhouse in 20th and 21st century Spain?
Andoni Luiz Aduriz: And not only in Spain, and not only in the 20th and 21st centuries. If we work intelligently, the Basque Country will remain a [gastronomic] reference in the future. In my opinion, the keys are the scale of the country, which is small, full of diversity, and open to the world; the character of its people and their ways, who are reserved but friendly and sincere; and the philosophy of life: We are a small population who respect the differences among ourselves, but also entrepreneurial, creative, and hard-working. If to all this you add a passion for cuisine unique in the world, a reflection of which are the gastronomical societies [clubs of dedicated amateur cooks who meet to cook and share meals], it makes the Basque Country an irresistible destination for food lovers.