Elena Arzak

Episode: Eight

Elena studied at the prestigious Swiss Hotel Management School in Lucerne and later worked at the legendary El Bulli. She has worked at Hotel Internacional in Zurich, Hotel National in Lucerne, La Gavroche, Le Vivarois in Paris, Louis XV in Montecarlo, Antica Osteria del Ponte in Cassinetta di Lugaganno and Pierre Ganaire in Paris. Famed for the family three-starred restaurant Arzak in San Sebastian, northern Spain, she has expanded the family’s empire by opening Ametsa in London. Here the food can be described as the reworking of traditional dishes, extracting the best from local ingredients using cutting-edge techniques, offering a mix of Arzak classics alongside dishes inspired by UK produce. Elena describes her food as ‘a Basque cuisine with research, innovation and a desire to be avant-garde, without turning our backs on local traditions.’

The food they serve is avant-garde cuisine at the forefront of innovation. Elena’s father was among the first to open a culinary research lab and was one of the world’s first chefs to adopt a scientific and experimental approach to cooking, including freeze-drying, dehydration and distillation. He has been heralded as the father of Spanish contemporary cuisine and creator of Basque Nouvelle Cuisine in the 1970s. Ametsa with Arzak instruction is a unique collaboration by a team of five from Arzak restaurant. Ametsa means ‘dream’ in Basque and the London restaurant focuses on ‘New Basque Cuisine.’

In 2012 Elena won the Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef Award.

Elena Arzak’s Wine Choice

Think of the things that make for great wines – classic varieties, old vines, historic regions, oak ageing… and then imagine them for about six quid. That’s this wine. Mature, complex strawberry and spice aromas and flavours, wonderful with a mid-week paella dotted with chorizo. Or a rich chicken casserole or pie. Mid-weight, ripe and delicious.