When you hear about restaurants that have gotten into the S. Pellegrino list, you would automatically think of fine-dining and extravagant surroundings. What would not enter your mind is barbecue. Let us admit it, when we hear barbecue, we imagine comfort food, picnics, parties, backyard get-togethers, the beach, but never fine dining. However, this is exactly what Chef Victor Arguinzoniz did. He catapulted grilled cuisine and barbecues to the top of the S. Pellegrino list.

Last year, his restaurant Asador Etxebarri enjoyed the 39th position in the S. Pellegrino list. His showed that grilled food can compete with French cuisine and molecular gastronomy, and proof of his culinary skill was his restaurant getting into the list. However, this year saw then drop down a few spots to the 61st position. This does not mean though that the quality of his cuisine decreased. Who knows, the year 2011 might see him at the top 50 of the S. Pellegrino list once again.

Chef Arguinzoniz credits his skill in grilling food to his childhood years. Having grown up in a farmhouse that has no electricity, he learned how to build a fire using different types of wood, some of which give off a very unique aroma that emphasizes the flavors of the food. Whenever he would spend some time with his friends, he would always make them some of his famous grilled steak.

In 1989, he purchased an old building that used to be a restaurant. He wanted to start his own restaurant business as well as maintain the integrity of the building, especially since the building has been a huge part of their community. Of course, he did what he loved most to do, which is grilling. He was not satisfied with traditional grilled dishes, so he started inventing his own grilling equipment to grill unusual ingredients, one of which is Angulas.

His grilling skill began attracting customers from all over the place that, in time, his restaurant started catering to fine-dining diners. His restaurant also began attracting critics that, pretty soon, he and his restaurant were receiving not only praises but awards and recognitions as well. Because of his culinary talent in grilling ordinary and unusual food, he has been dubbed as “The Ferran Adria of the Heart.”

Chef Arguinzoniz is the type of chef who wants to stay behind the stove and hearth. He is not one who loves being in the spotlight, especially when it comes to media. However, his Asador Etxebarri is not the only thing that keeps him busy as he still strives to perfect his grilling techniques.

He still continues to learn more about the different types of woods and how he can use them for his cooking, and he still continues to experiment with heat as he adjust his grills over the fire to perfect the way he cooks the food. He studies what type of wood works best with what type of food, and through this, he creates new dishes that never fails to astound his diners. Who else but Chef Arguinzoniz would even think of a smoked vanilla ice milk with an infusion of berries.

Through his exemplary and innovative grilling techniques, his restaurant draws food gourmands from all over the world that it has become a part of one’s tour if you happen to be in Spain. Aside from this, his restaurant also draws culinary students from all over the globe who wanted to learn more about his grilling techniques. In fact, one of his protégées, Lennox Hastie of Australia, came to Spain to study under Chef Arguinzoniz’s tutelage. What was a six-months’ stay turned into years as Hastie decided to stay in Spain. This is the charm of Chef Arguinzoniz’s culinary skill.

It should no longer come as a surprise that if you search the Internet, you would come across numerous food blogs urging tourists to visit his restaurant, and it will surely be a visit worth your time and money.

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