Foodie Confidential: Authentically Spanish

Foodie Confidential: Authentically Spanish

Bubbly Mikel Badiola, the chef de cuisine of Element on Tras Street, attributes his high energy levels to his passion for cooking.

"Because I'm young, I still have a lot of energy. Also, I like to joke and have fun in the kitchen. I know when we need to play and when we need to be serious."

The Spaniard started his culinary odyssey at seven, when he helped his housewife mother Raquel Azpiazu, now 53, to peel potatoes.

Asked about the first dish he made, Badiola, who turns 23 next month, says: "My parents gave me a pastry book and the first thing I made was sponge cake. It was the best cake I had ever tasted."

When he was 14, he accompanied his dad Edorta Badiola, 54, who now works as a manager of a sports complex, to a txoko, a traditional gastronomic society characteristic of Basque culture, where male members come together to cook, socialise and eat.

"You go there with your friends and family members, pay a small amount of money, take your own ingredients and cook there. They have basic necessities there. The food ranges from porterhouse steaks to Basque seafood soups. There is no specific dish to cook," says chef Badiola, who has an older sister, Naiara, 25.

Born in San Sebastian in the Basque region of Spain, he graduated from Aiala Catering School when he was 18.

His work experiences range from short week-long stints at friends' restaurants during his holidays to training for a year at the prestigious Martin Berasategui Restaurant in Lasarte-Oria, which holds three Michelin stars.

Of his experience working under chef Berasategui, he says: "He told me I needed to travel and explore the different cultures out there because I'm still young and, if I ever needed a job, I could always turn to him, provided I teach him all I have learnt from my trips."

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