Chef Josean Alija: The Rhythm of Cuisine Is Marked by Nature at Nerua

The chef of the Guggenheim Bilbao shares his inspiration

The chef takes inspiration from the art that surrounds the restaurant.

You have earned one prestigious Michelin star and this year are No. 56 on the World’s 50 Best list. Which award is more prestigious for your resume, and which one is better for business?

Both are very good; all recognition is a motivation for the team as well as for Bilbao. The most precious award is the will to do things and share them, to celebrate the years with health and energy, surrounded by a team that feeds the project.


What proportion of your guests are international visitors, and is the museum location helpful in drawing business to the restaurant?

About 30 percent of our customers are local, and the rest are international, and many of them, loyal customers. There is no doubt that being in a place like the Guggenheim Museum is wonderful, and it is a marvelous opportunity for us.


What is the future for fine dining cuisine?

I believe that haute cuisine will advance by highlighting seasonality and local products in addition to bringing new things to the discipline, but above all to pay attention to what the customer seeks.


Does a chef’s ego get in the way of receiving constructive criticism, and what advice would you give young cooks about this?

The ego does not help achieve anything constructive. Observing, listening as well as learning from mistakes and being justly critical with yourself are more powerful tools.


What is your favorite way to spend time off in your city and what do you like to eat out?

I like to spend free time with family or friends, traveling or enjoying small trips to nature, and I always look for a table to enjoy good local food wherever I am.


Is there another book on the way after Muina?

There is some project in mind, although it is still early to advance it. The most didactic part we share through a blog in which we talk about products, techniques, reflections, and trips.


What impression do you want diners to take away from the experience of dining at your restaurant?


Our goal is very simple: We work hard to make our guests happy and allow them to learn and discover new things, but above all enjoy the experience. We aim to allow them to know our environment, the special products of our region, and its seasonality.