Dhaka, Bangladesh
An Arzak recipe for scrambled eggs with piquillo peppers

An Arzak recipe for scrambled eggs with piquillo peppers

Whenever I'm travelling, the dish I long for most upon my return is scrambled eggs with piquillo peppers. I might have spent a lifetime focusing on creative cuisine, but this is the dish that means home to me. In Spain, and certainly in the Basque region, breakfast isn't such a big thing - this is more of a lunch or a dinner dish. For breakfast, I just have fresh mint tea and four butter biscuits, the traditional kind. Eggs are central to my cuisine, both at Arzak (in San Sebastián) and Ametsa (in London) - I always have an egg dish on the tasting menu. I once did an egg decorated with green parsley sauce and squid ink sauce, inspired by graffiti I saw on the wall near my home. Our most popular one, currently, is the huevo enhojado (egg in the leaf) at Ametsa. Each dish involves very different techniques. I was born in the restaurant. My grandparents founded Arzak in 1897, and it's been called Arzak ever since. The kitchen was downstairs and my bedroom was on the same floor as the restaurant itself - I had to go through it to get to my room. There would always be the smell of olive oil, garlic and slowly frying onions. Originally, my paternal grandparents lived in the house and ran a small pub and then my mother and father lived there. My father died when I was nine and my mum ran the restaurant. It was more traditional home cooking than fine dining, but delicious nonetheless and very popular. My mother hosted many events. I lived in Madrid for eight years as a student. I was studying engineering and architecture to begin with, but at some point I bumped into a friend who seemed to be having a pretty relaxed, fun time doing hospitality, so I decided to become a chef instead. So I returned to San Sebastián. When I was 23, I got married and took over the restaurant. My aim was to use modernist techniques in my cooking, so I got together a group of 12 great chefs based in San Sebastián at the time. We wanted to rediscover old forgotten Basque dishes, to ensure that the traditional dishes were properly done and to create a new Basque cuisine that they could spread the word about and make famous. To be a good chef you need to be willing to learn from everyone, to have great taste (which is a gift) and to have the ability to think like a child and be creative with a good imagination. I started learning from my mother - one of the best teachers I ever had. Over the past 12 years we have been running a second experimental kitchen alongside the normal preparation kitchen. My daughter, Elena, is the fourth generation of our family to run the restaurant: unlike me, she knew from the beginning that this is she wanted to do with her life. And without her and my team, I would not be able to be where I am today. My other daughter, Marta, is a director at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, and an important taste tester at the restaurant. The restaurant is my life - it always has been - but in my time off I enjoy the sea. I love swimming - I think I might have been the first, or at least one of the very first people to have windsurfed here in Donostia (which is the Basque name for San Sebastián). I have always loved coming home to San Sebastián: I miss every detail of it when I'm away. For me, there's no other city like it. Scrambled eggs with piquillo peppers Serves 2 4 eggs Olive oil Salt and black pepper 2 confit piqillo peppers, finely chopped 4 slices of Iberico ham, torn into pieces 1 English muffin, halved Paprika 1 Gently scramble the eggs in olive oil over a low heat, then mix in the chopped peppers. 2 Toast the muffin halves, then pile on the egg and peppers. Top with Iberico ham and finish with a dash of paprika.

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