Josean Alija

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Country : Spain


Address : Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Abandoibarra Etorbida, 2 48009 Bilbao, Bizkaia, Spain

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Even at a young age, Josean Alija already knew he wanted to be a chef. He saw that a chef had the ability to seduce the palate and the heart, and that a chef makes people happy.

He entered culinary school at 14 in his native Leòn, Spain, and soon found himself staging at the epicenter of modern gastronomy at El Bulli under chef Ferran Adrià. Josean started working in the kitchens of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in late 1998. In the year 2000, when his cuisine was starting to take shape, a motorcycle accident left him in a coma for 21 days, on the brink of death. He awoke, but without the senses of taste nor smell—the essential tools of any chef. He had to learn how to taste things again, to recognize flavors and aromas.

While he was still recovering from the consequences of the accident, he took part in the Best Young Chef competition, a motivation to restore his passion. “My success in that competition took me back into the profession; thanks to this award I felt I was a chef again—a feeling that I had lost along with my senses of taste and smell,” he shares.

Now, as chef of Nerua at the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Josean has refined his craft and pushed the boundaries of modern Spanish cuisine, which balances innovation with centuries of tradition. He puts ordinary ingredients on a pedestal—and on simple, white plates—and conjures from them minimalist masterpieces, earning him the title “master of minimalist cuisine.” Nerua received its first Michelin star and 3 suns from the Repsol Guide in 2011 and sits on the 55th spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

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  • In 2009 Alija is acknowledged as the Best International Chef by Identità Golose and one year later he received the Award for Conceptual Innovation.

  • In 2011, Nerua received its first star in the Michelin Guide and 3 Suns in the Repsol Guide.

  • The International Academy of Gastronomy also awarded him the Prix du Chef de L’Avenir in 2011 (The Chef of the Future Award).

  • In 2015, the prestigious magazine Restaurant included Nerua for the first time in its list of the world’s 100 best restaurants. In 2016, reaches position 55 in the prestigious list.

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