The Basque Connection

My street food journey started in 2001 when I was a young chef and had one of the most amazing meals of my life in Restaurante Arzak in San Sebastián. I was lucky enough to be shown around the kitchen by Juan Mari Arzak himself. He opened my mind up to the possibility of working there one day and I became determined to make this into a reality. Fast forward to 2004 when I was accepted for a year’s stage after working hard in the London restaurant scene.

My year at Arzak introduced me to a completely different class of cookery. It was like going to a university for chefs – a rite of passage that changed my whole ethos about food and cooking. I learned not only about creating innovative dishes with cutting edge techniques but also about traditional Basque recipes that have spanned generations. I was also blown away living in this amazing city where good food and socialising is at it’s heart. From the streets of pintxos bars to the sociedads gastrómica (private gastronomy clubs where like-minded people cook and eat together – think of it like a working men’s club with cooking at the centre).

I decided to bring to a bit of Basque back to the streets of the UK by setting up Pick Up Pintxos in 2016. The best part of cooking from our transportable bar is meeting and talking to people – following the Basque way of socialising,  cooking and eating together.

Gianni (Founder of Pick Up Pintxos)