Mugaritz chef pushing boundaries outside kitchen

Spanish chef Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz will be cooking at the Margaret River Gourmet Escape festival next month.
Spanish chef Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz will be cooking at the Margaret River Gourmet Escape festival next month.PHOTO: MARGARET RIVER GOURMET ESCAPE

Spanish chef Andoni Luis Aduriz spends a considerable amount of time outside the kitchenon eclectic projects that range from science to theatre.

The 45-year-old is head chef at Mugaritz, a two-Michelin-starred contemporary fine-dining restaurant in Spain's Basque Country.

Some of his boundary-pushing projects include preparing dinners for stagings of William Shakespeare's tragic play Titus Andronicus and researching the link between science and cooking, which has spun off into a clothing line inspired by dishes from his restaurant.

The San Sebastian native tells The Straits Times via e-mail: "Working with creative people makes you more creative. It is always stimulating and exciting to share ideas and knowledge with creative people from other disciplines. Mugaritz wouldn't be what it is today without these connections."

Mugaritz is ranked No. 7 on The World's 50 Best Restaurants list by Restaurant Magazine.

  • BOOK IT / MARGARET RIVER GOURMET ESCAPE

  • WHERE: Various locations in Margaret River, near Perth, Australia

    WHEN: Nov 18 to 20

    INFO: www.gourmetescape.com.au

Chef Aduriz says the restaurant's foray into the performing arts "helped rethink service in the dining room and show us a philosophy to think differently".

At Mugaritz, he whips up whimsical meals comprising more than 20 courses of Basque cuisine.

Diners can get a taste of his cutting-edge cuisine at the annual Margaret River Gourmet Escape festival, held in the wine-growing region near Perth, Australia.

The fifth edition of the gastronomy festival, held from Nov 18 to 20, will have wine-pairing dinners, masterclasses and talks.

Chef Aduriz is part of a stellar line-up of more than 50 culinary personalities including British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson; Joan Roca from Spain's El Celler de Can Roca, ranked No. 2 on The World's 50 Best Restaurants list; and Singapore pastry chef Janice Wong.

He will be participating in the Brunch With The Best talk, where he will share his culinary process. He will also cook for the sold-out Dining By Twilight at Margaret River's Secret Garden event.

The creativity seen in his dishes does not come easily. Every year, he closes Mugaritz from January to April to develop new dishes and reflect on its dining experiences. This year, his team came up with more than 120 new dishes.

He explains: "Every year, we receive enthusiasts of more than 70 nationalities, so it is important to offer something that would live up to the effort they took to travel from faraway places."

Themes that he is zeroing in on include finger food, food textures and working with micro-organisms.

The last theme can be seen in one of Mugaritz's well-known dishes, Bitter Ideas Of Velvet, which is made with a dairy product and gel, where micro-organisms are cultivated. When it is warmed, its base becomes creamy. The dish is accompanied by droplets of apple cryoconcentrate juice.

Another dish is Dried Hydrangea Of Cocoa, a dessert consisting of solid freeze-dried cocoa bubbles, which are reminiscent of the delicate dried flowers.

One project that chef Aduriz has been busy with recently is Brainy Tongue, a study on how sensory perception can be linked to creating a gastronomic experience for diners.

He says: "The more you understand how the senses and human brain function, the more tools you will gain to influence them and understand what you are doing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2016, with the headline 'Mugaritz chef pushing boundaries outside kitchen'. Print Edition | Subscribe