Spanish chef Elena Arzak presents a recipe at a food fair in Madrid. She says traditional Chinese cuisine has been a long-standing inspiration for her dishes.[Photo/Agencies]
Spanish Elena Arzak says traditional Chinese cuisine has been a long-standing inspiration for her dishes. âMy father and I have always been heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine as we have always loved it,â says Arzak, whose father is celebrity and award-winning chef Juan Mari Arzak.
Father and daughter work together in their restaurant, Arzak, located in the village of Alza, now part of the city of San Sebastian, in northern Spain. The restaurant received numerous accolades from the mid-1970s, including a third star in the prestigious Michelin Guide in 1989. Arzak was presented as one of the top 10 restaurants in the world, and Elena Arzak now also runs Ametsa with Arzak Teaching at the Halkin in London, which has a Michelin star.
Arzak says she has always loved Chinese food and that one of the first books her father gave her was The Legacy of Chinese Food. “There I discovered many recipes,” she said, adding, “we have always loved … the way they use sesame oil, spices. I love Sichuan pepper!” “
While the “mouth-numbing pepper” caught her attention and her taste buds, she says, “you can’t give it to everyone because for some people it would be too strong.”
Arzak visited China in 2010, where she participated in the Shanghai World Expo involving 217 countries. On “Spain Day” she prepared dishes such as melon bread with ham, anchovies with strawberries, cod omelet and “chocolate burger”, among others at the hotel Melia.
âThe experience was very interesting because I worked with the chef at Melia, who was Spanish, and with a Chinese team,â she says.