The taste of 
the circular economy
In the autonomous community of the Basque region, on a sunny green hill behind Bilbao, is a village with a little over 1500 inhabitants called Larrabetzu.

Here, in 2005, Eneko Atxa launched Azurmendi: a restaurant and event space.
3 Michelin stars, an unstoppable rise to the World's 50 Best Restaurants (the annual ranking of the fifty best restaurants in the world, compiled by the British monthly magazine, Restaurant), and twice awarded with the Sustainable Restaurant Award, a prize dedicated to the most sustainable restaurant in the world (World's Best).

Culture, Flair, Innovation and Environmental Sustainability: Eneko Atxa's muses. The ingredients masterfully blended by the Basque chef haven't only earned him all of the most coveted recognitions in the restaurant world in a particularly short time, but they have also given him the opportunity to reach, and exceed, the ambitious goals of the sustainability targets set by the UN in its 2030 Agenda.

Today, Eneko is counted among the greenest culinary stars in the world. His approach to food service demonstrates an excellent eco-friendly business model, a food lab that joins commitment to the environment and business success in perfect harmony. He offers a unique gastronomic experience that tastes of his love for his origins, the land and the environment.

A culinary journey to experience while immersed in greenery, with a skilfully calibrated mix of flavour and sustainability.

Dinner begins with a stroll through the indoor garden, where a picnic of appetisers is served. Afterwards, you move into the kitchen and a new space in the greenhouse that offers seasonal produce, retracing the history and origin of these products. The entire structure is surrounded by a vegetable garden, where many varieties of fruit and vegetables are grown, and a greenhouse, which functions as a real seed bank, where you can find a large number of rare species of plants and vegetables, many on the verge of extinction. The chef collaborates with a Spanish research centre dedicated to the restoration and conservation of ancient varieties of local fruits and vegetables. Around 400 varieties of native species are cultivated.

The irrigation for the fields and the greenhouse is fed by an integrated rainwater drainage and collection system.

The fertilizer used is compost, produced from the transformation of organic waste. A model of circular economy that has broadened and been shared with all the agricultural land in the Municipality of Larrabetzu.

But let's proceed with the culinary journey: approaching the lobby, you will find yourselves immersed in a real oasis of plants, trees, and a waterfall, where you can sit in comfort and taste a rustic aperitif served in a charming willow basket.

The luxuriant indoor garden is a unique example of bioclimatic architecture: its thermal efficiency is obtained exclusively from the natural elements in the area (sun, wind, water, earth and vegetation), which, through their dynamic interactions with the structure, create thermal comfort completely autonomously, independent of the use of air conditioning. 

An environmentally responsible building.

The photovoltaic system guarantees self-sufficient energy, and a geothermal system generates the air conditioning.

Fruiting and aromatic plants on the roof, distribution of space and greenery to enhance natural lighting, heat transfer between rooms and provision of shaded areas for the summer season. The ventilation is 100% guaranteed by the recirculation of external air. All of the structural components are non-toxic and have zero VOC emissions (Volatile Organic Compounds).

The air is exceptionally healthy.

The entire architectural complex is made from glass and steel, with finishings in wood and stone. All local materials, and for the most part recycled.

A design effort that has earned Azurmendi the LEED Gold certification, one of the highest levels in the US classification system for ecological footprints in construction.

Finally, to compensate for the CO2 emissions produced by the restaurant, the Michelin-starred chef has recently planted 800 trees and bought 100 hectares of forest in the area around Azurmendi.

The dining room has a direct view over the magnificent surrounding landscape, through enormous windows.

Azurmendi's menu is called Adarrak - "Branches" - and gathers together the latest creations of Eneko Atxa, with the most innovative approach to cuisine: Oyster with essences of the finest herbs or Roast, shelled lobster, fruit juice, coffee butter and Zalla violet onion are a few of the dishes that will delight diners.

Every dish is perfectly balanced, to guarantee healthy, sustainable nutrition. The ingredients are strictly seasonal.

An intense, flavourful, identity-based cuisine, a homage to the senses, in which tradition and the avant-garde come together and interact. A culinary experience in which every detail reflects the personality and philosophy of Eneko Atxa, and conveys his values.

A cuisine of sensations.

A place that lives interconnected with the territory, where harmony, sustainability, identity and (bio)diversity are brought together.

The chef and champion of sustainability has launched the foundation JakiN, whose goal is to create a healthy and sustainable society through gastronomy.

This project involves various initiatives: a collaboration with the village of Larrabetzu for the composting of organic waste and the distribution of crops from local farmland in order to have access to unique, locally grown produce; the re-activation of an old mill from the 1700s for grinding flour; a collaboration with local shepherds who raise animals in the wild; careful attention to work shifts and food for staff; a collaboration with hospitals and nutritional research centres; the publication of a recipe book to suit every need; a collaboration with Art students for the illustration of a collection of ancient dishes of Basque tradition.

We asked the Chef what inspired him to invest in what, today, is the most sustainable restaurant in the world.

Eneko: "We started working towards sustainability because we felt a profound respect and admiration for our region and the environment. We started from this, and took all our inspiration from this. We then reproduced and replicated this same respect and admiration into every action and commitment, so that it is reflected in the way we intimately experience our profession, and we put it into every dish we cook."

How does the foundation JakiN fit into your philosophy?

Eneko: "JakiN is a multidisciplinary centre where, using the world of food and gastronomy as a tool, we want to create a better social future. Gastronomy is well-suited to transmitting multidisciplinary messages and being used in a transversal way: through food and social engagement, it is possible to act directly on important ideals such as sustainability and health. JakiN is also a design centre where the food and gastronomy of the future is shaped by avant-garde, contemporary perspectives researching new solutions for new eras.
JakiN has actively promoted and inspired the project for the most sustainable restaurant in the world, but it is also a hotbed of nutrition and health projects related to public health (with the creation of personalised proposals for patients, hospitals etc.) and feasibility and production analyses for more innovative and sustainable objects and materials (along with the industrial design section of the University of Deusto).

In this same area, JakiN is actively collaborating with other organisations, such as Stanford University, NASA, Ideo, MIT, SHERPA.AI."

Eneko Atxa, a clear view.


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