Our UK chefs take a trip to the world’s greatest city for food, touring markets, gastronomic societies, bakeries and pinxtos bars
San Sebastian has been called the greatest city on earth for food – famous for its markets, pinxtos and having so many Michelin stars that there’s barely a hotdog seller without one. So this September we sent a group of Soho House & Co chefs on a trip to get inspired.
Led by UK Cookhouse and House Tonic manager Jack Davis, the group visited a range of local restaurants for lunch, dinner and of course pinxtos (Spanish snacks that are typically eaten on a stick) from beef cheeks to pigs’ ears. They visited a fish supplier to see tuna and sardines being brined and salted, and had a surfing lesson.
Lunch on the first day was at Asador Bedua, a deceptively simple Basque restaurant that creates its daily menu based on what is growing in its garden. Kady Yon, UK head pastry chef, was impressed by the desserts: “A favourite was the Pantxineta, which is vanilla cream with puff pastry, similar to millefeuille. The cheesecake was the most interesting because it is typically served warm rather than chilled. It really brought out the richness and flavours, which I think adds another depth to the dessert.”
The chefs also toured the local markets, choosing produce to cook at one of the city’s gastronomic societies, which were established in the 19th century as a place for men to cook and socialise away from their wives. Whether or not they were escaping the women in their lives, the group – Kady, Krisztian Hecz, Ben Harrington, James O’Grady, Leon Lawrence and Neil Smith – prepared their own lunch of a raw vegetable platter, cod fillet and tomahawk steaks with a raw cep salad.
Finally, they checked out local bakeries, trying bread made with turmeric and raisins, and grabbing some eclairs, bombo (a sort of cream doughnut) and Basque cakes.
“It was an awesome trip that we would recommend highly to anyone that hasn’t been; I think we can all say we have never eaten so much,” Jack says. “The chefs all came away feeling super inspired and full of ideas for new flavours and techniques.”
Find trips and trainings near you on the Cookhouse calendar