Three-Michelin-starred Basque restaurant Arzak set to open at the Halkin

by Janet Harmer , Tuesday 23rd October 2012 16:38

One of Spain's most celebrated three-Michelin-starred restaurants, Arzak, is believed to be on the verge of signing a deal to open at London's Halkin hotel.

While the five-star, 41-bedroom boutique hotel, owned by COMO Hotels and Resorts, confirmed that its existing Thai restaurant, Nahm, will close, it wouldn't say who the new operator will be.

A statement from the hotel said: "COMO Hotels and Resorts can confirm that an exciting new restaurant will be opening within the Halkin hotel in Belgravia in due course and it will replace the existing Nahm restaurant. More details will follow soon."

Arzak in the San Sebastian, in the Basque Country in northern Spain is run by Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena, who is today regarded one of the world's most celebrated female chefs. The restaurant, which achieved its third Michelin star in 1987, has been run by four gnerations of the same family.

In 2009 Elena, who earlier in her career worked in London at Le Gavroche, spoke and demonstrated at the Chef Conference, organised by Caterer and Hotelkeeper. At the time, she said with regard her experience of working in England: "For my father and for me, too, the Roux brothers were very, very good. My father knew them, so once I decided to go to England, there was no question of going anywhere else.

"It was fabulous. I learnt a lot. I liked the respect for produce I saw. I saw British produce, so that was very new for me."

She said that after working in London, she took home the flavour combination of mint sauce and lamb. "You are used to the combination in England but in Spain we don't know it - and now we do our own style of mint sauce at Arzak", she said.

Father and daughter have described the food at Arzak as "Basque, research, evolution, vanguard."

As well as drawing strongly on the historical heritage of the surrounding region, they have created a very personal style of cuisine, which they continually develop through their Flavour Bank, a type of development kitchen where they draw upon about 1,500 ingredients for inspiration.

Nahm, the Thai word for water, was opened by Australian chef and Thai cuisine expert David Thompson in 2001, when it replaced the restaurant previously headed by Italian chef, Stefano Cavallini.

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By Janet Harmer


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