Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz has become known for serving some of the world’s most daring modernist cuisine at Mugaritz in Errenteria, Spain. The Basque Country restaurant consistently ranks in the Top 10 of San Pellegrino’s prestigious The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, currently check in at #9. Chef Aduriz recently flew from Spain to serve six courses on July 18-21 at The Bazaar from his more casual Basque-Latin restaurant, Topa Sukaldería. He was also in Los Angeles to collaborate on July 21-22 with ThinkFoodGroup Culinary Director Aitor Zabala (a fellow El Bulli alum) on an 18-course menu at Somni’s future home inside SLS Hotel Beverly Hills. I had a chance to correspond with Andoni Luis Aduriz by e-mail during his L.A. stay. Learn more about his international perspective and approach.
Josh Lurie: Have you ever created a perfect dish? If so, what was the dish, inspiration, and approach?
Andoni Luis Aduriz: Mugaritz is in a constant state of inquiry. We invest thousands of hours trying to create dishes that are worth showing. Every year we spend four months working exclusively on creativity: exploring, developing and working in new ideas, dishes and concepts. This creative process draws on our own experiences, our trips and also on the work with professionals from different fields. Just this year, the creativity period resulted in around 100 new creations. Therefore, it is really hard for me to choose just one dish as I’m proud of all of them. To mention some: Edible stones, Bitter ideas of velvet, Walnut omelette or An oyster’s frozen kiss. All of them have the characteristics to make a dish worthwhile: unpredictability, poetry, subtlety and contention.
JL: Mugaritz currently rates #9 on the San Pellegrino list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. You’ve been rated higher in the past. Are you content at #9? How much do these ratings drive you?
ALA: I have always believed that recognitions are signs of confidence, which motivate us to face new challenges and risks. They help us to clear up many doubts related to our work. This is not only important from an internal perspective, but also for the public, because just like almost everything in life eating is in part subjective. Professionals and ‘advisors’ guide people and help them in the decision making.
JL: What qualities does a chef have to possess to cook for you at Mugaritz?
ALA: I’d like my team to never lose curiosity and the enthusiasm to create – to think and rethink things and to work hard to contribute something new every year and improve.
JL: What’s the one restaurant in the world you haven’t experienced that you would most like to experience? What is it about this restaurant that interests you so much?
ALA: My main goal is try to learn something new wherever I go. I have the good fortune to have travelled around the world and visited many places. And I always try to bring something of each of them with me. I like to enjoy what’s best in each place I visit, from fine dining restaurants to secret gems.
JL: Which other chefs do you look to for guidance or advice?
ALA: I like to say that I have had different kind of “mentors.” The first ones guided me on the steps to follow on my career. Then I worked with some of Spain’s most renowned chefs such as Juan Mari Arzak, Martin Berasategui, Pedro Subijana, Hilario Arbelaitz, Ramon Roteta and Ferrán Adria, who allowed me to face the reality of Mugaritz in its beginnings. I also find inspiration in the work of people I have not worked with. But in the last years, I found that who inspires me the most are the people I work with. Every day I learn from them; they teach me many things and this way we grow together. Therefore my latest mentors are the people who surround me.