18/May, 2016 por Loreak Mendian

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Making the most of our collaboration with the Mugaritz restaurant, we could not pass up this opportunity to turn one of our little chats with Andoni, one of its foremost ‘architects’, into an interview. So we got down to business, and here’s the result:

Something quite unique we share in the worlds of fashion and fine dining is that we not only design and create, but then we also produce and sell. Which one of these stages do you least like?

You’re right to say that this is a feature we share with you. We are crafters in the sense that we even design the crockery. As far as I’m concerned, there is no stage that a priori I like less, but it really irritates me when we have a very good creative idea, from the perspective of its concept, and then the product side lets us down. When we can’t define it as we imagined it because something is not working: the product’s quality, the quantity, or even the public’s actual response. And then, obviously, when it comes to selling it, it’s also very frustrating when we don’t know how to tell the story so that people understand it with the same passion or energy that we have put into it from the start. In the end, each one of the steps we take is creative. Thinking something up, developing it, telling a story, carrying it out, and selling it.

You actually started off from scratch.

Yes, we did, and with a problem that always comes up in fine dining: when you want to carry out a project full of personality you know it’s a project for the world. So the more personal, free and creative you are, the smaller the target audience will be on average. You cease to be a product for a local audience and become a product for a global one, but a minority one at that. So then what do you do? Cuisine here works in the following way: you do something new, it interests someone, and that someone asks you to feature it in a magazine or they introduce you to a congress. That’s your opportunity.

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And when you opened the restaurant, did you think you would follow the model of what is now Mugaritz in terms of its concept?

What I was clear about is that we should have a product with value added, but I didn’t know how to go about it. So then what you basically do is clear the way ahead, investigate and try things out until you find a place in which you are comfortable and you find something that you think you can contribute. It’s often the case that you fail to see the importance of what you are doing. You don’t know whether it will come to nothing or set a trend. When you are committed to creativity, it’s very difficult to judge in real time whether you are breaking new ground. Having said that, I relied a lot on intuition. I was very interested in simplicity, and we wanted to cook in a pure and organic way in the sense that the produce would find its own expression. Objects suddenly ceased to be objects, but instead elements that represent other things. And that’s when you realise that a dish may have shapes, textures, tastes and temperatures, but suddenly you notice that it conceals other things: a story, feelings and a purpose. A critic once accused us of bordering on blandness, and so from then on we decided to work hard on that. We said: is that a fault? Well let’s turn it into a virtue. For a long time Mugaritz was a real groundbreaker because after centuries of repeating the mantra that taste is the most important thing in cooking, we began to question that. We are on the threshold of blandness because we understand that textures are as important, or more so, than taste. What lay behind that blandness was in fact the championing of textures.

The truth is that you are doing something that you were not educated to do, but now you really are teaching the kids you have here.

Yes indeed. This is very complicated, because in the end we have to build a reality and convince people that this reality exists. We have to be very good at thinking, very good at doing, and very good at convincing. How do you explain to a kid that comes here that behind this there is a vocation for excellence? What we do ultimately is reinforce values. That’s something I learnt during the Balkan War. I was shocked to see how people so close to us could do such terrible things to each other. As in all wars, creativity was placed at the service of evil, and that’s when I understood. I thought: how about creating a context in which we foster positive attributes? That has to be my ecosystem. I tell the youngsters working with me that within ten years the techniques will have changed, their local produce will be different, there will be another audience, other recipes, but values are the one thing that will not change.

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Were you in any doubt at the start that you would not be able to implement here what you had seen in other kitchens?

I had been running kitchens with maybe twenty or thirty people, and here we were six. I had to adapt what I wanted to do to those six people and to a local clientele. The problem is how to make that transition. How you go from a product that pleases the locals to reaffirm yourself more in what you want to do, which means you move away from a local perspective, although you have still not reached out to an international audience.

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And have you got to where you wanted in that transition?

To be honest, Mugaritz now has one of the world’s five most creative projects, although most creative does not necessarily mean best. The next step would be: Can we become acknowledged as the world’s best restaurant? Well I don’t know, but we may well be wrong to think along those lines, because if we have chosen creativity and avant-garde, a lack of understanding may be inherent to our choice. Just imagine that when we opened, we were considered too far away for people in Donosti-San Sebastian. For them this was like the end of the world. The irony is that people of more than fifty nationalities now travel long distances every year just to eat here. It’s as if I said to you: desire makes the distance between Australia and Mugaritz shorter than between Donosti-San Sebastian and Mugaritz. The fact we are far away has a kind of pilgrimage effect. And that difficulty in getting here is part of the necessary ritual for providing what we provide.

Thank you very much for everything. For everything.

6/May, 2016 por Loreak Mendian

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We love organising Competitions. Because we get to see the things you are capable of doing, and more often than not they are very very good.

We didn’t want to let our collaboration with Mugaritz pass without taking advantage of it for a competition. At Loreak Mendian, we selected pieces or elements of Mugaritz dishes and arranged them to form a sort of weave, texture thereby creating the prints we would apply to fabrics used to make our garments.

Therefore, our idea for this competition is to replicate that initial design stage, in short, select different foods and put them down on paper, coloured cardboard, stone, grass, etc. and use them to create texture, and then take a photo and upload it with our Facebook application. Here are some examples by James Tolich:

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©James Tolich

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©James Tolich

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©James Tolich

By doing so (in addition to following Mugaritz and Loreak Mendian on Facebook) you can choose to enter for a chance to win two prizes, the first to be decided by the Mugaritz-Loreak Mendian judges, who will assess the appearance of the photos received and produce two complete looks at Loreak Mendian, and the second a meal/dinner for two at Mugaritz (wow!) for the photo with the most votes on the 31 May at 11:00 am (deadline). Therefore, ideally you should share your photo and ask your friends and/or acquaintances to vote for it.

The following images illustrate the entire process.

1. Take part by uploading your photo,

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2. Go to the voting section to check your photo has been correctly posted,

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3. Share your photo so your friends can vote for it, and that’s it, you’re done!

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What’s more, one person could actually win both prizes, it would be a massive coincidence, but… anything is possible.

So there you are, we encourage you to participate, it’s a lot easier than it seems and the end result looks…. stunning!

We’ll keep you informed. Good luck!

22/April, 2016 por Loreak Mendian

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We were really looking forward to telling you about this. It’s about one of our latest collaborations and to date, surely one of our most complete.

Our admiration for the Mugaritz restaurant, led by Andoni Luis Aduriz and his crack team is long-standing, but it was not until about two years ago that we started to notice we had many things in common and that we were united by something very clear: our creativity and passion in what we do, to achieve a result that others enjoy.

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We saw that their creativity in creating dishes was closely related to what we do when we design a print, a logo, the shape of a garment, etc. And this soon became clear to us. The most logical way of brining the two worlds together was by converting their recipes into prints for our garments.

We converted three of their mythical recipes into more or less dense compositions, as applicable, and we applied them to fabrics that had a significant relationship with what was to be printed on them. Coloured dots, light flowers, herbs with different tones of green… all very connected to the end result, what diners would see at the restaurant.

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But its best we let Andoni (Mugaritz) and Víctor (Loreak Mendian) tell you about it themselves:

Mugaritz — Loreak Mendian Present [ENG] from Loreak Mendian™ on Vimeo.

As with any collaboration, we couldn’t leave it at that, this was just the beginning. We needed to transfer something of Loreak Mendian to Mugaritz and a something of Mugaritz to Loreak Mendian. Which is why, every diner at the restaurant will receive a commemorative silk-screen printed sheet at the end of their meal. And at our stores, everyone who buys a garment from the collaboration will be given this work-statue-little gift made by the fantastic team at Mugaritz. Which can either be left in a pail as a decorative element, or grated over some French toast, custard, etc., because although it may look like a stone, it is actually a mixture of aniseed and macis (nutmeg root).

In addition, we have arranged small corners at some of our stores where you can find further information about the restaurant: its origins, meaning, beginnings, its accomplishments in world cuisine, etc.

At many of our franchises we have also arranged some cool window displays and at ours Ja! Studio has spun the fine details, as always.

We can’t tell you everything just yet, but we promise to reveal more soon. In any event, check out our online store and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for further information.

Its been a pleasure!

1/April, 2016 por Loreak Mendian

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Isn’t it great to start a month on a Friday? You start, just like with anything else. And more so when it’s a month when you can see that there are a lot of things to do. Sometimes (never) too many.

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We’re starting the month nearby, specifically in Zarautz, where this weekend (March 31 – April 3) the Pro Zarautz Music Festival and Surf Championship is being held. It will be divided among different surf schools in the Arguiñano (Hi, guys!) and Munoa area, with many different activities. They range from yoga, skateboarding, BMX, and of course, surfing to the rhythm of DJs like El Ciruelo and the great Xolomo Gangsta, and groups like The Nephews, Makala Jazz Funk, etc.

A great plan, overlooking the sea.

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Next we’re off to Catalonia, where they will hold the Lapsus (event) at the CCCB. This audiovisual music festival will feature different big names on the national and international scene: Powell, M.E.S.H, DJ2D2, Mau Morgó, and more. The event will start at noon and will end well after dark.

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Also happening tomorrow, Saturday, April 2, the San Sebastian group Oreka will offer a (free) workshop on modular synthesizers and other gadgets at 6 pm, led by Julio César Palacio. And at night, sometime after 10:30 pm, there will be two live performances that promise to be great: Reisa and Sun Color, ending with joint performance by Ope Loeb and Kino Internacional. All this at the Dabadaba concert hall in Egia, Donostia.

Oreka is always a good time.

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Next weekend, in San Sebastian, there is also a good offering. Ayo Silver is organizing on Thursday, April 7 and Friday, April 8 his mythical Aló Dabadaba festival (at the Dabadaba, as its name suggest), and he’s advertising “all out psych”, so be prepared. On Thursday, April 7, the US group Holy Wave and the Exnovios from Pamplona will perform, and on Friday, April 8, three groups will take the stage: the English The Underground Youth, the Chilean Chicos de Nazca and the Baywaves, from Madrid. A complete pack at what is really a very good price.

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On that same day, April 7, an exhibition will be inaugurated in Barcelona that we hope we will get to see (it closes on the 22nd of this month). Julia Vergara, half of the beautiful brand SuTurno, presents her collection of boats “Wood meets wind”, made from wood scraps, and beautiful all by themselves. All this in the (also beautiful) shop Altres Cosas (AOO) on Séneca Street, starting at 7:30 pm (on Thursday, April 7).

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Back in San Sebastian (wandering from pillar to post), on Saturday, April 9, the Dabadaba has its 2nd anniversary, and will celebrate it by bringing in no less than Hot Chip to DJ. But this is not to underrate The Parrots (those mates of the Hinds), Siberian Wolves and Dj Crazy Palmera, who will close the night in style. It’ll be big.

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And finally, we’ll finish up in Madrid, on the weekend of April 22, 23 and 24, when who-knows-what edition of Libros Mutantes will be held at La Casa Encendida (By the way, congratulations for how clear everything is on your website; we’ve always thought that and now it’s time to say it. A real pleasure.). If you like a certain type of self-published editions or series, this is not to be missed. We’re curious to see how they pull it all off. They usually take exquisite care of every last detail of the image and presentation.

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And this is not even everything. We’ll continue to post things on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. (By the way, have we mentioned that we are also on Pinterest, with a ton of followers?) This was just a small selection to whet your appetite.

Well, have a good weekend and all that.

Later!

1/March, 2016 por Loreak Mendian

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The start of a new month and with it the new things we have seen out there, in different cities, and which we feel like doing. Too many to fit in this entry, so we are going to select a few and post the rest to Facebook as they come up.

To start with, this Friday 4 March the Sala Dabadaba in San Sebastian will be host to a further edition of the Wail Baby Wail club, its sixth year running. This year with the Rhythm ‘n’ Blues and Soul cocktail of The Excitements fronted by Koko-Jean Davis, looks promising.

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Artwork by Iñaki López Allende

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On Saturday 5, the same venue will be host to the boys from Oye Loco! (Tropical Patrulla) who will get us all dancing and then some.

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They are bringing over the Frenchman King Dou Dou and the little we have heard him we have liked, we have liked it a lot. Here is his latest work, together with Zora Jones:

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On the other hand, and changing the topic slightly, this month we don’t want to miss out on what’s on offer at the Guggenheim. At the end of February they launched their Warhol: Shadows exhibition. It’s very different from what we are used to seeing from the pop-artist. The work involves a 102-part series of silkscreened canvases that he produced in the 50s in his Factory studio.

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We will be checking this out after the 18 February, as that’s when the same venue inaugurates Cells by Louise Bourgeois. Small enclosures mixing installations and sculpture, in addition to showing the earlier works that helped create them.

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An opportunity for a full weekend in Bilbao, which always goes down well.

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What’s more, on the second Saturday of the month, the 12 March, the guys at Miscelánea in Barcelona, will be celebrating their 10th anniversary no less. To help celebrate they have called on the San Sebastian collective NiMu (http://nimu.tv/2016/02/09/nimu-x-miscelanea/), who will be setting the programme for the party to be held at La [2] de Apolo from 19:30 h. With names such as Koreless from the UK, Niño (half o Diploide together with our admired Garbanzo), Barcelona’s BeGun, Fur Voice, Sunny Graves, Orphidal, Kigo and the final touch by Dj Coco. For times, etc. here’s their website with detailed information.

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Lastly, on, Thursday 17, our much admired El Último Vecino are set to return to the charge at the Ocho y Medio in Madrid, and having heard their latest production, everything indicates that their new LP will be superb.

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Pues esto es (parte de) lo que nos plantea marzo a día de hoy. Si van surgiendo más cosillas… ¡nos vemos en las redes!