Mugaritz, Basque Country
An unquenchable curiosity, renewable creativity and a profound interest in questioning the norm are the key ingredients in the career of Andoni Luis Aduriz. Three decades of work around culinary evolution and innovation have earned the Basque chef the Icon Award 2023.
Aduriz receives the prestigious accolade for his tireless efforts in advocating for a socially and environmentally committed gastronomic industry. He has also been fearless in challenging long-standing culinary mores, jettisoning industry dogma in favour of exploration and experimentation around food, and even questioning whether dishes need to be 'delicious' at all to be valuable.
Born in San Sebastian in 1971, Andoni began his career in the restaurant sector with an after-school job at a pizzeria, where his interest in fresh produce began. In 1993, Andoni moved to Catalonia and joined Ferran Adrià's renowned restaurant, El Bulli, where he gained an entirely new understanding of cuisine, where his creativity was nurtured, and where the young chef developed a mindset of seeking constant improvement.
In 1998 he opened his own restaurant, Mugaritz, located on the border of the two Basque towns of Errentería and Astigarraga, just outside San Sebastian. Despite struggles in its early years, Mugaritz has long since become a must-visit for chefs and serious food-lovers from across the world. Every visit is unique, not only in comparison to other restaurants, but also to any other experience at Mugaritz in another season, because every year, between January and March, an entirely new menu is created from scratch.
For this purpose, Aduriz closes the restaurant to the public and, together with his team, embarks on a journey of creation, training and reflection to develop a series of highly original concepts and dishes. It results in a tasting menu of some 30 courses, featuring different textures, tastes and sounds; the 2023 iteration features dishes such as Face to face, an edible ‘skin’ made with psyllium and cider, and Bouquet of frosted thyme, as well as the typically provocative Mother, which involves diners sucking sheep’s milk from a breast-shaped mould.
While Mugaritz has appeared on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list every year since 2005, Aduriz maintains that it is much more than a restaurant, with he and his team engaged in multiple inter-disciplinary projects, ranging from working with the Basque Culinary Center, consulting on health and nutrition, giving classes at Harvard University and other educational institutions and writing for El Pais newspaper. His IXO consultancy group prides itself on creating culture through gastronomy from a restless, nonconformist and idealistic spirit.
Aduriz has succeeded in building bridges between the culinary and scientific worlds, as well as sitting comfortably on the border between art and gastronomy. Furthermore, his personal warmth and charisma means he is much-loved across the culinary sphere internationally, as well as being one of the most influential chefs of his generation, contributing to his truly iconic status.
Now read the article and watch the video with Andoni Luiz Aduriz:
The Icon Award recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the hospitality industry worthy of global recognition. The accolade is voted for by the Academy, formed of 1,080 independent restaurant industry experts and well-travelled gourmets from across the world.