Last but not least, for our final Restaurant Cookbook review of this year, we decided to bring you the Arzak + Arzak cookbook.
Arzak + Arzak, originally published in Spanish in 2018 and now reissued in an English language edition, tells Juan Mari's story, including his ongoing, decade-long creative collaboration with his daughter Elena, the fourth generation of the family to work in Arzak restaurant since it first opened as a tavern in 1897.
Described as the “definitive book for understanding one of the most important restaurants in the world,” the book includes 66 of its most emblematic dishes, which reflect the chefs’ culinary genius.
Juan Mari Arzak is the third generation of chefs at the restaurant in San Sebastian that bears his family name. Arzak has held three Michelin stars, the maximum that can be awarded, since 1989. It is a member of many of the world’s most prestigious associations and appears in countless restaurant guides. It has also been ranked on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant List since the ranking’s early days.
This book tells the story of a family and a cuisine. It takes a look at Juan Mari’s role as a cutting-edge chef and restaurateur, and an inspiration for generations of young cooks. It’s being published to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the birth of the Spanish Culinary Revolution, of which Arzak is a leader.
For nearly twenty years Juan Mari has shared the role of Chef at Arzak Restaurant with his daughter Elena. The book also follows Elena’s rise in the kitchen, recognizing the essence of her creative process and the magic she and her father create through the design and balance of plates and menus. This introduction to the close-knit team of visionaries and their innovative recipes offers a glimpse into the future of Arzak Restaurant.
Arzak + Arzak cookbook starts with an extensive narrative text and some stunning black and white portraiture. These introductory chapters, 5 in total, provide background on the day-to-day running of the restaurant, as well as the ongoing processes of Arzak's ‘laboratory'.
These 5 ´introductory' chapters, represent more than 80% of the book, being only one chapter, the last one, dedicated to the restaurant's most iconic dishes. The first chapters of the book are full of details and curiosities of the day to day of the restaurant. However, the same doesn't happen in the recipe chapter.
Although the recipes have clear instructions, including how you should plate them, the lack of introductions in the recipes, is something that we miss. In restaurant cookbooks like this one, where will be difficult for the average home cook to replicate the recipes, the introduction/context of the recipes is something that would help to contextualize the dish. Everyone can indeed try to replicate the recipes without the introduction, but there will be times where an introduction/contextualization could be useful.
Arzak + Arzak is a book that represents well the history and people of this restaurant. Like the majority of restaurant books, this one is more suitable for professional chefs or very serious hobbyist home cooks, but everyone who loves food will have a great time reading this book.
Arzak + Arzak cookbook will take you behind the scenes of one of the most important and respected restaurants in the world, introducing you to a team of visionaries and their innovative recipes, offering a glimpse into the future of Arzak restaurant.