Elena Arzak



October 3, 2018

Female continuity

Continuity from parent to child in the cooking profession is rare and was even rarer in the past. The strict rules of a kitchen, a lack of vocation, and even certain family ideas of social upward mobility, influenced an aversion to the profession by young people born into families of cooks. Still today, it is uncommon for the offspring of cooks to become cooks. And even less so in the world of haute cuisine. Looking at the descendants of the most esteemed chef-entrepreneurs of the last quarter of a century – the approximate number of years between one generation and another – there is a hereditary decline when it comes to cooks. Elena’s case is exceptional. From when she was very young, she was excited by the job that her father did, that her grandmother and great-grandmother did, so, genetically, it was natural she would be predisposed to it. In these days of women’s evolution towards gender equality in top haute-cuisine jobs, she has long been seen as an effective pioneer. She has had the best teacher possible, her father, the great Juan Mari Arzak – a true legend within the profession. Training at the best schools... Switzerland, London, Paris, she then began working at the family’s hundred-year-old restaurant. She runs the establishment jointly with her father, and has a workshop and a flavour bank that have provided a huge number of contributions to avant-garde cuisine. Attentive and acutely aware of all gastronomic progress and value, every year at Madrid-Fusión she transmits a message of renewal; a commitment to the evolution and technical, dietetic and aesthetic enhancement of professional cooking. Last year, Elena established the culinary contribution of collagen, and this year will provide us with the results of studies carried out with fruit enzymes, which react on the hardness of particular meats, and even molluscs, to make fish and meat more tender. She will demonstrate this via a simple squid recipe, and will show how these fruit enzymes lighten and modify the behaviour of the fibres without changing their flavour. That’s her magic. Ana Mediavilla