SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain - Juan Mari Arzak peered out from behind his red-framed glasses as if trying to solve a puzzle. “Food has always been very important here,’’ said the chef, “and nobody knows why.’’
His own culinary genius, of course, is part of the reason. Restaurante Arzak, where he now shares the kitchen with his daughter Elena, is one of three Michelin three-star restaurants in town and one of only five in Spain, as of 2012. Juan Mari pioneered the contemporary Basque cooking that put this Belle Epoque resort town - indeed all of Spain - on the international culinary map in the 1970s.