Elena Arzak

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Restaurant : Arzak

Address : Avenida del Alcalde José Elosegi, 273, 20015 San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa, Spain

Website : http://www.arzak.es

Born to a family of cooks, Elena Arzak was exposed to the kitchen at a young age. Her parents, the famous Juanmari and Maite of Arzak restaurant, did everything they could to discourage her from following their footsteps. But young Elena could not be deterred. Every day after school, she would go straight into their restaurant kitchen to either peel oranges or clean squid. It was clear that Elena wanted to be included in the family affair.

By age 18, Elena had travelled all over Europe to learn the restaurant trade. Though many cooks are self-taught, she decided to go through extensive academic and vocational training in catering schools and in prestigious restaurants. She studied at the Scwheizerische Hotelfachschule in Lucern, Switzerland, and did her practicum at the International Hotel in Zurich and the Grand National Hotel in Lucerne. Some of the European restaurants she worked at are Le Gavroche in London, Troisgros in Roanne, and Carre des Feuilants and Vivarois in Paris. She also had short stints at the Restaurant Louis XV in Montecarlo in Monaco, Antica Osteria de Pointe, Cassineta di Lugano, elBulli, and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris.

After her training, she returned home in 1996 and joined the kitchen staff at Arzak, working in all the parties and having less direct contact with her father. Although she can easily rise up the career ladder being the daughter of the owner, Elena preferred to follow the career path set for her associates in the kitchen. Eventually, she started to manage the Arzak together with her father, and in 2012 announced that they were expanding from San Sebastian.

Elena always believes in the importance of top-class raw materials and stresses that their flavors should not be altered too much. Some of the awards she received include: 2012 World’s Best Female Chef by the Magazine Restaurant, 2010 Best Chef National Gastronomy Award by the Spanish Gastronomy Academy, and 2010 Eckart Witzigmann Award by Eckart Witzigmann Foundation.

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Awards

  • 3 Michelin stars

  • 3 Repsol suns

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