Chef Victor Arguinzoniz was born in the humble town of Axpe in The Basque region of Spain. He opened Asador Etxebarri at the age of 30, working for more than twenty years developing his cuisine and refining his ideas of what wood-fired cookery could be. He lives and resides in his hometown, where the nature provides him with constant inspiration.
Today, Asador Etxebarri is considered one of the best restaurants in the world. It is there that Victor has been tending the wood-fired asadors (grills) for thirty-one years. Victor has never taken a cooking class. He has learned completely by doing, imparting the rich Basque tradition of community, respect, and humility into his dishes.
“Through food, a relationship is created between the people, the environment, and our territory. That is how I learned the values of respect, humility, and honesty. To this day, I try to keep those values alive through my cooking.”
Thus, all courses, even dessert, have the taste of fire.
Chef Arguinzoniz masterfully follow the ancestral technique of cooking on a grill using a range of charcoals made from a variety of woods, kissing most plates with at least a suggestion of smoke. Thus, all courses, even dessert, have the taste of fire.
Victor prepares his coals in two 750-degree ovens he built himself, using only wood to fuel his grills, and the type of wood varies depending on the dish, then he transfers those coals to six grills he designed himself.
“When I’m cooking fish, I generally use holm oak, which is really clean and soft for the meat I use vine trunks and shoots, which have a stronger aroma.”
The Grilling Genius of Spain
Widely considered one of the world’s kings of barbecue. Everything from massive tomahawk steaks, spiny lobsters, and delicate peas passes over his expertly tended coals. But while Victor can grill just about everything, he doesn’t just grill anything. Basque cuisine focuses on simplicity, harvesting and sourcing ingredients near to them. Simplicity makes Basque food a trademark of the culture. It’s a statement to preserve the Basque culture as separate from the rest of Spain.
Restaurant web site: https://www.asadoretxebarri.com/en/home
Restaurant address: San Juan Plaza, 1, 48291 Axpe, Bizkaia, Spain