Born in San Sebastián (1969), Elena Arzak represents the fourth generation of Arzak restaurant, the first to get three Michelin stars in Spain. The kitchen of Elena Arzak is characterized by the investigation of flavors, evolution and avant-garde without ever forgetting its roots in Basque gastronomy.
Elena Arzak joined the family-run restaurant in the 1990s, and now shares the running of the kitchen with her father. "My first contact with the kitchen was when I was little, in the summer. I used to go to my father's restaurant in the summer break and spend a couple of hours there, helping out with whatever they asked me to do," Elena remembers. She would later go on to study hospitality management in Switzerland. Before settling back at home, she spent time in great European restaurants such as Maison Troisgros, Pierre Gagnaire, Carré des Feuillants, and Le Vivarois in France; Le Louis XV in Monaco; Le Gavroche in London; and Antica Osteria del Ponte, in Italy. "The first dish that I made with my father was when I was 19. I used to cook at home, and experiment with recipes such as savory soufflés." At Ferran Adrià's El Bulli, one of the restaurants in which she worked before joining her father's team, she created many other dishes.
In 2001, Elena Arzak received the International Academy of Gastronomy's "Chef de l’Avenir" (Chef of the Future) award. In 2001, she was awarded Spain's National Gastronomy Award, and in 2012 she won the Veuve Clicquot Award for the World's Best Female Chef. Local produce, the evolution of Basque cuisine, innovation, and research are the pillars of Elena Arzak's kitchen, and they are clearly visible in one of her signature dishes, "círculo de chipirón" (squid circle).