An Interview with Basque Chef Mikel De Luis

An Interview with Basque Chef Mikel De Luis

On August 17 the New England Basque Club will hold a Basque Festival at the Basque Fest the New London, Connecticut.  Chef Mikel De Luis will be presenting food for the second year in a row. Featuring paella from the well-known Basque chef Bonifacio Guenaga and thousands of pintxos from chef Mikel de Luis’s catering kitchen aMona.  Internationally recognized chef Mikel De Luis sat down with Roberto Guerenbarrena to discuss his next culinary venture, Haizea.

Mikel Tell us a little about your new project?

My new project, Haizea is the culmination of 20 years of constant work, experiences, and the different culinary cultures that I have been kneading during all this time.

How did you decide to take this next step?

The truth is that like any hospitality lover, you always have that little bug that tells you to have your own headquarters.  As Martin (Berasategui) says, when fattening a pig, if it is working, then I rather it is my own pig.  My event company needs a mirror, and nothing better than having Haizea for it.

With whom will you be working?

I embarked alone on this project alone, but with the immeasurable support of my wife, Michele Buster, who is not only, but my partner of fatigue, my fairy godmother, my friend and she has the wisdom and sanity that control my impulses.

Obviously, I will have a trusted team, to which the only thing I ask is that they treat and respect the product, that they leave aside egos, that they enjoy what they do and that they are capable of transmitting that happiness and good work to the customer and food

How did you come up with the names of both companies aMona? and Haizea?

aMona, arises after the death of my grandmother. I am who I am, culinaryly speaking, thanks to her, I lived my childhood and youth surrounded by her casseroles, chappa of wood and coal, I learned the temporality of the products, picked chestnuts in autumn, named and observed from childhood how to choose the best bacon, how to make butter after boiling the milk, the milkmaid better not to talk, when it went empty …… .. came full of buns. In short I could be talking for days ……… aMona is the way to HONOR, my grandmother.

Haizea, has one of the 5 main elements of our nature and base of our climate in Euskadi is the culmination of different culinary and forgiveness winds that have marked my life. From the Alisio’s in Tenerife when I worked the stoves at the orders of Martin Berasategui, the dry winds of Dallas, Texas cooking at the orders of Anthony Bobaci, those of Tramontana during my career in Barcelona or those winds from the south that indicated that they were arriving Very good waves to Sopela u Bakio.

Haizea is a bar restaurant in which there are no tables and which will transport the client to my Basque origins, where I will also not miss certain traits learned from Catalan and American cuisine. Everyone who comes to my home, Haizea, will enjoy small traditional and modern dishes, which, like at home, the product will make this culinary experience a perfect trip with the wind as a flag.

Besides being a member, what is your relationship with the New England Basque Club?

My relationship with New England Basque Club and even more after meeting fantastic people during the last two years, is that of a Gudari, who is even happier when he is surrounded by his people, not feeling weird, finding an excuse to keep contact and enrich it more, if possible.

What pintxos are you going to create for the Basque Fest?

For this second contest of the Basque Fest, I will present 4 pintxos:

1. Cod Tortilla Sandwich with Piquillos.
2. Krokreton of Ibericos and Extegaray.
3. Pintxo Moruno with Tximitxurri de Espelet.
4. BLQ: Bacon Bokata, Loin and Roncal cheese

To finish, tell us a little about the project you did in Panama.

Panama and my first documentary Gastronomico, Panga Iberica, was a documentary based on respect for nature, sharing different cultures, both culinary and demographic, in which 5 chefs live different experiences and cook, for a week in the jungle, we share experiences and knowledge with producers and fishermen of the area, and that culminated with a 10-hand dinner at Playa Venao, Peninsula Azuero, Panama.

At the same time I felt fortunate and proud, 3 months later to be able to make the presentation of the same in New York, where we all could be present and I magnify even more the commitment for our profession.

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