When you think young, hot, culinary sensation, a few chefs immediately come to mind; one is definitely Eneko Atxa of Azurmendi. With three Michelin stars under his belt in only seven short years, he is remarkably one of the youngest cooks in Spain to achieve this distinction.
Dinner at Azurmendi was beyond phenomenal, one taste of his creation and there’s no surprise where the stars came from. The complexities of the dishes are drawn by the aesthetic nature of the imagination that begins with the kitchen’s identity and transcends to the entirety of one’s dining experience.
Not only does the gastronomy tantalize your palette with a sense of curiosity, but you can’t help but wonder what’s next. You haven’t quite finished your first course, but your already wondering what’s the second one going to look like. The dining presentation doesn’t even begin in the main dining room; Eneko Atxa takes on a post- modern approach and begins your dining journey linked with the land as he includes a tour of the stylish garden.
Since many of the vegetables are sourced from the restaurant’s greenhouse and garden, the diner gets a chance to reflect on the philosophy of the restaurant’s connection to the land. Even before entering the main dining room, you come to have a unique perspective on the sustainable building and architecture of this prestigious restaurant.
First comes a tour of the ‘Greenhouse’ where we were given what looked like an avocado pit disguised as the actual avocado. Many of the dishes are meant to be experienced in one bite, like the fruity tomato.
Next stop, the ‘Garden.’
After delighting in the first sustainable restaurant in the Iberian Peninsula, I came down to Azurmendi a few days later to meet with Eneko Atxa and talk food. After all before the Michelin stars, Eneko was named “Signature cuisine champion of Spain for young chefs” in 2003 it’s no surprise that the stars would soon follow.
Annette: Did you always know you had a passion for food and wanted to become a chef?
Eneko Atxa: Yes, it was always a very natural process. When I was younger we used to always say that we don’t start to cook in the kitchen. The process starts in the land and the sea. So it’s only natural that today’s Azurmendi consists of two floors, with a cultivated garden landscape of over 36 native fruits and vegetables mirroring the Biscay Lands.
Annette: Can you tell us a little about the restaurants design?
Eneko Atxa: The restaurant is organic but it’s taken to the next level, not only is the food organic but the building is bioclimatic and sustainable. Even the rain water gets recycled; nothing gets lost in Azurmendi, we always love the landscape and need to respect it, as part of our philosophy.
Annette: And the food is beyond exquisite, what inspires its creation?
Eneko Atxa: I’m very proud of my landscape, my culture. The gastronomy is a very special language to express my life. I search for beauty in the total creation of food, life, flavor and style to coordinate the connection between all our senses.
Of course I continued my conversation with Eneko and we came to talk fashion and the stylish presentation with which each dish get plated. The cuisine grabs your senses as your eyes travel across the plate only to get swept away with the exact gastronomy of expectation that Eneko Atxa intended for you to experience.
A visual excitement continues into the sweet presentation, before leaving a lasting impression on your sensation of taste!