Elena Arzak: “My father scolds whoever leaves something on the plate”

Elena Arzak: “My father scolds whoever leaves something on the plate”

Like Spiderman, Juan Mari's daughter knows that all superpower entails not only great responsibility but also disproportionate media attention. About this, about the weight of inheritance, is 'Arzak since 1897', by Asier Altuna, recently presented in San Sebastián

Elena Arzak:

Juan Mari Arzak tells in one of his most famous anecdotes that the response he received from his mother when he proposed to continue the family business was to look for something with a better future. That was 60 years ago. And those that remain. From then to now, there have been gastronomic revolutions, international awards, Michelin stars and, most importantly, the certainty of a future that continues in the daughter and granddaughter of chefs and cooks. Elena Arzak (San Sebastián, 1969) is the protagonist of the documentary Arzak since 1897 , by Asier Altuna, recently presented at the film festival. Not for nothing, there is no movie star who does not surrender to each of the three Arzak stars.

How much of life does one leave in the constant pressure to live up to the name? The pressure is always there. Whatever your name is. It is in the nature of the human being to relax. But if you want to be satisfied with yourself, you end up accepting the pressure as a wise traveling companion. With my last name, if I couldn't handle it, I'd better leave it. I like what I do and that includes the pressure not to fall into monotony. What weighs more the need to innovate or to preserve the essence? Modernity or tradition? The basic thing is naturalness and never obsess. To change a dish (an average of 60 recipes are created per year), the rule is that the new one likes as much and is as good or better than the one replaced. That goes for the kitchen and for life … Anything that goes for the kitchen is good for life. At least in my life and in my kitchen. What has happened so that the chef, with so much program on TV, is now the star? I have lived at home as the chef became the chef with the revolution of the new Basque cuisine. Not at all, I've gone from doing three interviews a year to 500 now. My advantage is that I work to be a good cook or hostess, nothing more. I cook for the client like my grandmother did. My father scolds someone who leaves something on the plate . How is it understood that in a matriarchal society like the Basque one, the elite chefs are almost all men? Does it bother you to be an exception? I am an exception because I grew up thinking that there was no difference between men and women. Today, 75% of the women in the restaurant are women. For the rest, I studied in a German school and then in Switzerland and France where there was more equality than in Spain. In the hospitality schools where I was there would be 30% or 40% women, and when my father studied, the women were 2%. Let's say I've been aware of the problem later. And the truth is that things are changing and I am less and less alone. Is it true that women are asked for an excellence that perhaps is not required of men? Well, I have also been forgiven a lot. But I have been required more for being my father's daughter than for being a woman. Although I am aware of the privilege of my last name that no one else has. Will the pandemic take away the luxury of haute cuisine? People come now with more desire than before. You want to celebrate what makes you happy. But it is true that, like everyone else, we are at an impasse . And it is essential that we learn to respect the environment and value local produce. Did you make bread at home like everyone else in confinement? Yes, me too. I made a seaweed milk bread. Ballard said that society would collapse the day people became obsessed with taking photos of food. I don't mind if they do. If done with respect, nothing happens.

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