Juan Mari Arzak Arratibel (born July 31, 1942) is a Spanish chef, the owner and chef for Arzak restaurant. He is considered to be one of the great masters of New Basque cuisine. He describes his cooking as "signature cuisine, Basque cuisine that's evolutionary, investigatory, and avant-garde."
At 17, Juan Mari began studying at the Escuela Superior de Hostelería y Turismo (School of Hospitality Management and Tourism) in Madrid, later training under Paul Bocuse and Alain Senderens in France, and Frédy Girardet in Switzerland. In 1966, he and his mother took over the running of the restaurant, and the 2 of them began to discover the secrets of traditional Basque cuisine. Within a short time, the young chef was putting his own stamp on these traditional recipes. "I wanted to breathe new life into it, being surrounded as I was by the great professionals of the trade, in what would later become known as the New Basque Cuisine," he says.
In the mid-1970s, a group of chefs headed by Juan Mari Arzak and Pedro Subijana created the movement known as the New Basque Cuisine. Their main aims were to revisit and rediscover lost recipes, ensure that authentic ingredients were used in their cooking, and, of course, to innovate.
For a few years, Arzak's cuisine was simultaneously acclaimed and misunderstood. The restaurant received its first Michelin star in 1972, and its second one 6 years later. In 1989, Arzak became the first Spanish restaurant to have 3 Michelin stars.