Martín Berasategui’s eponymous eatery is located in north Spain’s picturesque Basque Country – more specifically, the small town of Lasarte-Oria. They say the apple never falls far from the tree, and Martín is a case in point – he grew up just a few kilometres from the scenic spot he chose for his most successful restaurant. “I was born in San Sebastián,” Martín tells us, “where my family ran a restaurant in the old town. I learned all the fundamentals of cooking here. From a very young age, I was immersed in the world of cookery. And, although my family fought against me sacrificing so much to pursue it, I already had the ‘poison’ of the kitchen in my blood. I didn’t want to do anything else other than cook."
Spain’s Basque region has become the country’s capital of haute cuisine – a charge led by Berasategui, who was the first chef to earn a Michelin star in the area when he took over his parents’ restaurant in his early twenties. He’s committed to staying true to his roots, while constantly adapting to his surroundings. “My food is avant-garde, but it’s deeply rooted in the produce and techniques of Basque cuisine, particularly of my hometown, San Sebastián. It’s renowned worldwide for its subtlety and outstanding treatment of raw materials, especially fish. I like being recognised as a chef from San Sebastián. I want that to come out in my food. That said, I’m always curious and receptive of the produce of where I go, and where my other restaurants are based. We can export our know-how, but we always make the most of the local produce.”
With an empire of nine restaurants spanning Spain, China, and Central America, Martín’s seeds are well and truly sown. The majority of his time, though, is spent heading up Martín Berasategui, which has three Michelin stars, and five AAA Diamonds under its belt. We asked Martín why he thinks his eatery is such a big hit. “I think it’s the result of a constant work of passion. I won’t say it’s been easy, but I love what I do, so all the awards are – above all – recognition of my tremendously challenging work.” And what does it take to run a three-Michelin-star restaurant? “The utmost discipline and perfection in the kitchen,” according to Berasategui, “along with a passion and a desire to make each and every one of my diners happy.” He says, “I’ve always acted in that way – giving the best of myself, to get the best out of my team. We work tirelessly, striving for excellence and customer satisfaction, from the very first moment they contact us to reserve a table.”
So what do you get when you cross a Basque-born chef with the art of cookery running through his veins, and a kitchen that’s run to near-military precision? An ever-evolving, 12-course feast of molecular magic, that’s what. “This year’s tasting menu,” Martín explains, “is composed of both creations of yesteryear, and of today’s most cutting-edge innovations.” One of the chef’s signature creations – a mille-feuille (that’s a custard slice, to you and me) of smoked eel, foie gras, spring onions and green apple – has featured on the menu since 1995. Other experimental delicacies include oysters served with iced cucumber slush, red mullet complete with edible scales, plus a pudding of chocolate rock, salted quinoa and hazelnut ice cream. “To have brought innovation to the craft of cooking is one of the things I’m most proud of.” An eel and apple dish disguised as a French pastry? There’s innovation, and then there’s Martín Berasategui.
“I get up very early – usually with the chickens,” Martín tells us, when we quiz him about his daily routine. “I like to walk before work, as it helps me focus. I’m in the kitchen with my team at around 9am, organising the day ahead and developing new ideas for our creative testing bank.” And, when it comes to new dishes, great is not good enough for Berasategui. He says, “Once you’ve come up with an idea, you have to perfect the details and the elements to address it. The creation of a dish depends on the demands you put in, and I put in a huge amount.” It’s a case of try and try again, Martín explains. “Sometimes, what you get is nothing like what you had in mind. You can accomplish the most incredible thing, but if you put it in your mouth and it doesn’t work, you’ve got to start over.” And, although improvisation has no place in his kitchen, the super-chef does take the rough with the smooth. “It does lead to ‘pleasant accidents’ occasionally – you might unexpectedly stumble upon something great.”
On the rare occasion Martín does have a day off, he savours the quality time. “I like to be in my hometown, with my family and friends – going for a walk, or cooking for them.” And, when it comes to holidays, food naturally plays a part. “I don’t stick to the same place,” he says. “I like to get to know different places, especially by trying out the local cuisine.” We wrapped up our chat with Martín by getting him to admit his guilty pleasures when it comes to food. “I believe that no pleasure of cooking is guilty!” Martín, we like your style.
You can sample Martín Berasategui’s gourmet delights on a Thomson holiday – his double-Michelin-starred M.B restaurant (above) is located in The Ritz-Carlton, Abama in Tenerife. It’s the only Michelin-awarded eatery in the Canary Islands, and its menu ticks off flamed pigeon breast served alongside aubergine curry-stuffed onions, and a miniature coconut filled with piña colada ice-cream. As for the hotel itself, expect design-led interiors, seven palm-lined pools, and sweeping horizon views. If your appetite still needs whetting, check out our round-up of Dubai’s high-end brunches, and this foodie tour of the Greek islands.
Author: Lee Dasilva
With its high-design interiors and impressive pool scene, is a luxury escape par excellence.
The Ritz-Carlton, Abama is a clifftop retreat that hides Martín’s two-Michelin-starred M.B restaurant – the Canaries’ only Michelin-awarded eatery.
The Michelin-starred restaurant is the jewel in the crown of The Cliff Bay Hotel. And it has two ocean-view pools.
Our top deals tailored to you, straight to your inbox Sign up for offers
More from TUI
About TUI MyTUI app Cookies Notice Manage Cookie Preferences Privacy Notice Terms & Conditions Credit card fees Media Centre Travel Jobs Affiliates Discover Lakes & Mountains Discover Weddings App Store for Ios Google Play Store Travel Money Holiday Budget Calculator TUI Group First Choice Holiday Brochures Travel After Brexit Holiday Weather
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and National Travel Health Network and Centre have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad.
See gov.uk/travelaware and follow @FCDOtravelGovUK on Twitter and Facebook.com/FCDOtravel - for the latest general FCDO travel advice, including coronavirus travel guidance, security and local laws, and passport and visa information.
See gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice - for FCDO travel advice about individual destinations.
See Travel Aware page - for travel advice from TUI.
See travelhealthpro.org.uk - for current travel health news.
The advice can change so check regularly for updates.
All the flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Some of the flights on this website are also financially protected by the ATOL scheme, but ATOL protection does not apply to all flights. This website will provide you with information on the protection that applies in the case of each flight before you make your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.caa.co.uk. ATOL protection does not apply to the other holiday and travel services listed on this website.