October 3, 2018
My friend Andoni
My friend Andoni, Andoni Aduriz, is an extraordinary guy. There are many avant-garde cooks, maybe too many, and some, unfortunately for them, think that the world revolves around them. But Andoni doesn’t; perhaps because he is one of the most important in the culinary universe. If someone asked me to define Andoni, I’d say that he’s a mystic with a sense of humour, a man whose heart is in the Basque Country and whose head is in Catalonia. One of these days this man will levitate, like St Teresa de Avila, and fly out of the window to disappear over the horizon like one of the Montgolfier brothers’ hot-air balloons. His restaurant, Mugariz, is in Rentería (Guipúzcoa) on the site of what was once a dairy. I really recommend that you go, don’t miss out on it; you’ll eat well, but, above all, you’ll have fun, you’ll be surprised, and it will be an unforgettable experience. If you go with your wife, you run the risk that, in about fifty years’ time, assuming you’re still married, you’ll ask, ‘Matilda, my love, what was the name of that man who was such a good cook, and was so charming?’ She, who will never forget the experience – and since then has had a crush on the cook – will reply, ‘His name was Andoni’, and will sigh nostalgically. Because this man is an extraordinary wizard and an incorrigible seducer.
Being one of the greats requires talent, effort and a serious amount of learning. After he finished studying, Andoni spent time with all the best Basque cooks: Ramón Roteta, Arzak, Pedro Subijana. For two years he was part of the kitchen team at El Bulli, overseen by Ferrán Adrià, and in 1996 was head chef for the amazing Martín Berasategui. Awards, recognition, distinctions? Pretty much all of them. The British magazine ‘Restaurant’ ranks Mugariz as one of the ten best restaurants in the world. He has only two Michelin stars because the French guidebook has overlooked him, but they will soon be forced to award him a third unless it wants people to boo it for being unfair. Andoni Aduriz loves reading, art and flowers, and, as you would naturally expect, all these things can be appreciated in his cooking.
José Manuel Vilabella