Basque luxury is a sober luxury. Elegant, not at all gaudy. Strength, design, and practicality can combine without becoming dull.
In the restaurant, I also believe that luxury is space. To not feel overwhelmed by the scarce space for each person, for each table. To use fine materials that are of quality and provide warmth. To have the correct temperature and proper lighting. To ever so gracefully try to make diners feel comfortable and cared for. Never neglected. To explain what the dishes are made up of carefully and clearly, as well as the plot – the history of where they come from. All dishes have their own story.
To pay attention to the wines; being familiar with their characteristics and pairing them with the recipes is the task of the sommeliers. Doing that simply, understandably, and humbly will make the customer feel advised and not humiliated because he or she doesn’t have that knowledge. And if, in addition, the occasion can be taken advantage of to increase the guests’ range of preferences, even better.
Something very important to be able to maintain a level of luxury is to be able to cater to diners in their own language; that’s why it is essential to at least speak English with ease, in addition to Spanish, in our case.
But there is also a formula that we have – and for me this is a true luxury: in our Cooking Classroom we hold custom meetings subject to availability and lasting an hour and a half, for groups of at least ten and no more than thirty, with my participation and the participation of my team, in which we teach a series of recipes live and via video and we maintain a conversation about them and about anything else that arises, later going into the dining room, where the menu whose preparation and history have just been taught to the guests is sampled.
Basque luxury is to have the quality of products that we have in a 150-km radius and to have the number of establishments that we do which uphold the conditions that I have just mentioned.
Chef of Akelarre Restaurant