The “final plate” challenge in the Spain episode of Netflix’s culinary competition show The Final Table is administered by one of the country’s culinary legends: Andoni Aduriz. Here’s everything you need to know about this highly-influential chef.
Who is Andoni Aduriz?
Andoni Luis Aduriz is an acclaimed chef and owner of Mugaritz, a fine-dining Basque restaurant located in Errenteria, a town near San Sebastián, Spain. The restaurant, whose name means “oak border” in Basque, opened in 1998 and earned its first Michelin star in 2000. By 2006, it received a second star from the Michelin guide, which it has maintained ever since. Nearly 20 years after the opening of Mugaritz, Aduriz opened his second, more casual restaurant Topa Sulkadería in San Sebastian with more restaurants to come. Aduriz published his first English-language cookbook Mugaritz in 2012 and followed it up with a compilation of music, recipes, film, and poetry called Mugaritz B.S.O. in 2013.
What was his journey through the culinary world like?
Aduriz was born in San Sebastián in 1971. He did poorly in school and at 14 had failed all of his classes, including religious studies, the chef told the Guardian in 2012. It was at that point that he pivoted to culinary school at the Donostia School of Cuisine. At first, Aduriz continued to struggle in his culinary classes but began to find new inspiration by reading about chefs outside of the Basque country. During his time in the Basque country, Aduriz studied under Pedro Subijana (of Akelarre in San Sebastián), Juan Mari Arzak (of Arzak restaurant, also in San Sebastian), and Ramón Roteta (whose eponymous restaurant was in Gipuzkoa) before moving to Catalonia in 1993 to work with fellow ground-breaking chef Ferran Adrià at El Bulli, before the restaurant was famous.
In 1998, Aduriz returned to his hometown of San Sebastián to open Mugaritz. Since 2011, the restaurant has closed for four months out of the year to do research and development for the modernist menu. In February 2010, the restaurants suffered a short circuit fire that completely gutted the kitchen. The Mugaritz cookbook chronicles the restaurant’s history before and after that disastrous fire. The restaurant has earned two Michelin stars and regularly appears in the top 10 on the World’s 50 Best list, rising to number three in the world in 2014. It’s currently listed at number nine.
What is Andoni Aduriz’s food like?
Aduriz is known for serving modernist cuisine. A three-hour-long tasting menu whisks diners through 20 courses that explore myriad flavors, textures, and aromas. Every year the Mugaritz team develops approximately 500 recipes, which are tested on groups of diners. Only about 70 dishes ultimately make it to the table.
Much of the restaurant’s research is done in partnership with universities, labs, and research facilities. Employees at Mugaritz have contributed to more than 15 published scientific and technical articles. The result is a menu full of highly memorable — if sometimes unusual — dishes, such as an edible condom filled with viili yogurt, edible stones, and a Michelin Man made out of marshmallow and swimming in oxidized wine.
“If people are bothered by a search for knowledge, the only way to respond is for me to search harder,” Aduriz told Eater back in 2012. “If people are critical of progressive cuisine, the only way to counter it is with more progression.”