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Elite Traveler Speaks to Eneko Atxa

By Codelia Mantsebo

Eneko AtxaBorn in the Basque Country, where tradition is deep rooted in gastronomy, Chef Eneko Atxa of Azurmendi Restaurant is a solid reference in international haute cuisine. Atxa’s passion comes from the deepest, most intimate parts of his being – the admiration he felt for home-cooked food throughout his childhood.

Atxa began his career at the early age of 15, first at the local Leioa School of Catering and Hospitality and later on he trained at some of Spain’s most celebrated restaurants, such as Martin Berasategui in Lasarte, Etxebarri in Atxondo and Mugaritz in Errenteria.

Azurmendi opened in 2005 and was awarded its first Michelin star in 2006. A second star followed in 2010 and in 2012, just seven years after opening, Azurmendi was awarded its third star – Michelin’s highest accolade. At just 35 years old Atxa became Spain’s youngest ever 3 Michelin star chef and has since been awarded some of the most coveted accolades around the world.

First featured on the Elite Traveler Top 100 Restaurants in 2013, Azurmendi has climbed up the gastronomic ladder each year. This year’s poll has seen Azurmendi come in second place.

“It is a very pleasant emotion to feel appreciated by guests who visit our restaurant. They are our reason for living and existing and therefore we are so grateful for this recognition because it is these guests and readers of Elite Traveler who have conceded it to us” Atxa told Elite Traveler.

Azurmendi_interior“Furthermore, we know the importance of this acknowledgement as its relevance helps us to continue growing and for more people to know us. We feel honoured, grateful and motivated to continue working hard,” Atxa said.

The key to the enduring success of Azurmendi is Atxa’s philosophy of “harmony” and his passion for Basque gastronomy. Paying homage to the country’s famous culinary culture, Atxa’s passion for the country’s culinary cuisine has led to his international recognition and reputation as one of the most attentive chefs in the world. Visitors at Azurmendi relate with Eneko’s passions: nature, gastronomy, architecture, and art.

Deep rooted in his ancestral cultural roots and combined with the country’s immediate surroundings and his cutting-edge techniques, Atxa´s harmonised cuisine is intense and creates pleasure to the senses of each guest approaching Azurmendi.

Atxa creates innovative dishes with a personal touch that combines quality and unquestionable technical ability. Ultrasound – used to alter the texture of food – is just one of the avant-garde techniques that he has pioneered since the restaurant opened in 2005.

Hanging on a hillside 9km from Bilbao, The Azurmendi restaurant occupies an original glass steel-and-glass structure building that is striking both for its appearance and its impressive landscape views of Basque.

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