Elena Arzak, Joint Head Chef together with her father at Relais & Châteaux Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain, has been named the Veuve Clicquot World's Best Female Chef, part of the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna.
Elena is the fourth generation of the Arzak family to head up the restaurant since it opened in 1897. In the past five years, the restaurant has consistently ranked within the top 10 of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and was the first Basque restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars. A highly decorated family, Elena’s father Juan Mari Arzak was honoured with the esteemed Lifetime Achievement Award at last year’s World's 50 Best Restaurants ceremony.
Having learnt her craft at home, Elena expanded her horizons through extensive travel. She studied in Lucerne, Switzerland before moving through the great kitchens of Europe including Maison Troisgros, Bras and Pierre Gagnaire, Carré des Feuillants and Le Vivarois in France, Louis XV in Monte-Carlo, Antica Ostería del Ponte in Italy, Le Gavroche in London and El Bulli in Spain before returning to the family business.
Elena has won international respect for her constantly evolving, cutting edge, research-based approach to cooking and experimentation with flavours. Through her single-minded dedication to Arzak and its signature Basque cuisine, Elena oversees not only a thriving restaurant but by working in tandem with her famous father, Juan Mari, has ensured that it is recognised as one of the most influential restaurants in the world today.
The Veuve Clicquot World's Best Female Chef award celebrates the work of an exceptional female chef whose cooking excites the toughest of critics of the world, 837 of whom voted in this category. The award is inspired by the life and achievements of Madame Clicquot, who nearly 200 years ago, set the standard for women in business. The winner reflects Madame Clicquot's attributes of innovation, creativity and determination.
Commenting on the result, Stephane Gerschel, Veuve Clicquot’s Director of International Communications, said: “The Veuve Clicquot was a woman who two centuries ago revolutionized Champagne, with her extraordinary stamina, her thirst for innovation and her quest for ultimate quality. Elena Arzak represents exactly these values in gastronomy today and I am proud that our name and rich history is associated to such a wonderful personality”
Elena Arzak said of the news: “It really humbles me and has come as such a surprise. I am happy for Arzak, the restaurant, my father and my family…4 generations! I remember when my grandmother was cooking and how much of an inspiration she was. With this title, I think of her even more.”