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In February 2013, London’s Halkin hotel will prepare for the launch of the first international venture from Juan Mari (pictured, right) and Elena Arzak (pictured, below right) – the feted father-and-daughter team behind Basque legend Arzak.
Three-Michelin-starred Arzak is one of the standout destinations of the gastronomic hub of San Sebastián – although it has a stellar reputation throughout Spain. The restaurant, which has featured on the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best List for the past nine years, and ranked number eight in 2012, has been in the chefs’ family for four generations, earning its first Michelin star in 1974.
The London restaurant, called Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, will be the chefs’ first outside their home country. Juan Mari and Elena will be instrumental in the establishment and running of the restaurant, which they will oversee together with the help of trusted colleagues Mikel Sorazu, Igor Zalakain and Xabier Gutierrez. Father and daughter have described the London project as ‘a very exciting development’.
Ametsa with Arzak Instruction will mirror the approach of Arzak, which is founded on ‘new Basque cuisine’ (la nueva cocina vasca) – a groundbreaking style of cookery developed 30 years ago by 12 pioneering Spanish chefs, including Juan Mari Arzak himself. The movement was based on French nouvelle cuisine and firmly established San Sebastián as the culinary centre it is today.
Elena – voted Best Female Chef in the 2012 S. Pellegrino awards – will run the kitchen at Ametsa in the run-up to the restaurant launch and in the first few weeks of its opening. However, it has not yet been confirmed whether she will take on the role of head chef permanently, or whether she will help oversee the restaurant in a consultant capacity.
The dining room at The Halkin will be completely redesigned in preparation for the launch of Ametsa, and will incorporate elements of the chefs’ Basque heritage alongside references to the restaurant’s London location.
Nahm opened at The Halkin in the year 2000, and was the first Thai restaurant outside Thailand to win a Michelin star – although it lost that accolade in 2011. Nahm’s gastronomic guru David Thompson plans to move to Thailand, where he will dedicate himself to running his other branch of Nahm in Bangkok – a restaurant that also features on the World’s 50 Best List.