Notably, the culinary world has been exposed to talented chefs whose bold and progressive restaurants have captured prestigious awards citing them as among the best in the world.
These include El Bulli, Roses in Spain, California’s The French Laundry, The Fat Duck in Berkshire, England, and Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark.
These top restaurants have been leaders of such techniques as molecular gastronomy and all serve exciting and unusual fare to their customers. They are most certainly considered purveyors of haute cuisine.
Mugaritz Restaurant, recently named third in S. Pellegrino's top 50 best restaurants in the world, is located in the remote hills outside San Sebastian in the Basque country of northern Spain.
Gourmands have been drawn to the dishes created by the restaurant’s founder and head chef Andoni Luis Aduriz.
The 41-year-old trained under famous chef Ferran Adria at El Bulli, where he helped inaugurate the research and development workshop. There he worked in constant collaboration with leading scientists, artists and farmers.
The result is that Aduriz has been able to craft some of the culinary world’s most innovative techniques and dishes.
He'll be in Toronto this week to launch his book “Mugaritz: A Natural Science of Cooking” (Phaidon Press, $55, hardback) with 150 colour illustrations by Jose Luis Lopez de Zubiria and Per-Anders Jorgensen.
Readers can delve into the secrets of Aduriz's surprising cuisine: where rocks and nails reveal themselves to be potatoes and chocolates, and a patch of grass becomes a field of herbs and flowers the ultimate delicacy.
In the book’s foreword, Aduriz’s work is described by Thomas Keller of The French Laundry as heavy "on creativity, curiosity, awareness and collaboration.”
In an interview by phone from Spain prior to his departure to North America, Aduriz said that he and his staff “understand food is more than an act of eating and we try to use values of simplicity and naturality.”
And, he adds, he and his colleagues understand gastronomy as a tool to be used to share interests.
“We are nonconformists by nature. Years ago we started thinking about the established values and we realized that we felt ill at ease with them because they do not necessarily guarantee a better dining experience,” Adruiz said.
In an effort to make their dinner guests feel comfortable, staff invite them into the kitchen to have a short chat before they begin their meal, he explained.
“People don't want to come to a restaurant just for the food,” he says. “They are trying to come for the memories and the unique experience.”
Most important, however, is the role his hand-picked staff play in the restaurant’s philosophy.
“They are chosen because of their capacity to bring something new to the working environment,” Aduriz said.
“I consider that having a diversity of opinions is fundamental to bring to a strong working group.”
In conjunction with Aduriz’s visit to Toronto for the launch of the cookbook, he will also present a premiere of a new documentary film entitled “Mugaritz BSO.” It explores the interdisciplinary nature of his cuisine.
The presentation will be held at 6 p.m. Friday at the Art Gallery of Ontario. For more information and tickets, visit www.cook-book.com.