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How A Basque Chef Smokes Out Food’s Subtle Natural Flavors

Chef Bittor Arginzoniz slicing beef. Credit: Copyright 2016 courtesy of Etxebarri

Chef Bittor Arginzoniz slicing beef. Credit: Copyright 2016 courtesy of Etxebarri

International acclaim

The exterior of Etxebarri in Atxondo, Spain. Credit: Copyright 2016 courtesy of Etxebarri

The exterior of Etxebarri in Atxondo, Spain. Credit: Copyright 2016 courtesy of Etxebarri

Though Etxebarri continues to scale the rankings of the world’s finest eateries — earning the 10th slot on Restaurant Magazine’s 2016 “50 Best” list — Arginzoniz seems immune to the accolades. His one and only restaurant is where you’ll find him most days. “What I cannot abide is for folks to travel 4,000 kilometers to get here only to learn that I’m not in the kitchen.”

Which works out well, because that’s exactly where he is most at peace. “I want to show that grilling can produce a kind of alta cocina — ” He stops short, visibly annoyed at himself for referencing haute cuisine. “What is high or low, really? In the end, you either do it well, or you do it poorly. I just want the person who’s seated at the table to experience the same pleasure I feel when I’m cooking.”

Main photo: Chef Bittor Arginzoniz slicing beef. Credit: Copyright 2016 courtesy of Etxebarri



Zester Daily contributor Sofia Perez is an independent multimedia journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Wine Enthusiast, Gourmet, and Saveur, and she began her career in broadcast news at NBC. She's taught food-writing classes at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education, serves as a judge for the James Beard Foundation Book & Journalism Awards, and is the North American interpreter for chef Ferran Adrià. Most recently, she completed her first book, "So This Is How It Ends," a historical novel about the Spanish Civil War. A born-and-bred New Yorker, Perez is the proud child of two remarkable Spaniards who instilled in her their passion for food and their homeland.

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