2014 International Chef of the Year: Andoni Luis Aduriz

Looking across the international culinary landscape, one chef in Spain stands higher above the rest this year
Mugaritz 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.

For the second consecutive year, The Daily Meal’s International Chef of the Year recognition has been awarded to an innovator from Spain. This year’s honoree is Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz in Errenteria. Last year’s winner, chef Albert Adrià, had familial ties to world’s most famous chef: his brother Ferran Adrià of the now-closed elBulli. Like Albert, chef Aduriz has ties to Ferran, having apprenticed for him from 1993 to 1994. But just as Albert has established success outside his brother’s shadow, chef Andoni Luis Aduriz has also demonstrated a culinary force all his own. 

The Daily Meal's Chefs of the Year 2014
2014 American Chef of the Year: Sean Brock

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.
 
You can find chef Aduriz talking about creativity and memory at culinary summits, participating in scientific conferences on applied cognitive psychology, and speaking at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Alicante and the Congress of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Seville. Aduriz is a prolific author of books on food. He innovates food products like New Food Spray (tempura spray? churros spray!) and collaborates with the technology center in marine and food research AZTI-Tecnalia. Like former countryman-turned-American citizen José Andrés, he’s also involved with charities, promoting culinary initiatives to raise money for organizations like Asteamur (a non-profit dedicated to helping people with autism), Ataxia Charlevoix-Saguenay Foundation (dedicated to scientific research into ARSACS, a muscle condition), UNICEF, and Starlight Children’s Foundation Australia.
 
 
2014 International Chef of the Year: Andoni Luis Aduriz
Mugaritz
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."
 
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.
 
In 2015, if all goes well, chef Aduriz plans to open a restaurant in the United Arab Emirates. Along with Enrique Olvera, chef-owner of Pujol in Mexico City (ranked 1st on The Daily Meal's 101 Best Restaurants in Latin American and the Caribbean), he has also signed an agreement to collaborate on a restaurant in Havana, and he is also considering an offer in Holland. (As this interview notes, he’s being encouraged to open in America as well.) 
 
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.

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