Josean Alija


Josean Alija

Nerua Guggenheim Bilbao
World’s 50 Best Restaurants No.32


バスク地方 ビルバオのグッゲンハイム美術館。この美術館の敷地内にあるレストラン ネウラ。

Josean Alija Josean Alija
Josean Alija


Since a young age I knew I wanted to be a chef. The opportunities I had during my infancy to visit a few restaurants and the culture I was shown at home—at the table and during meals—set the course for my future. In the chef I saw a professional with power, who seduces the palate and the heart, and what is most evident, makes people happy.
So at the age of 14 I started studying at the Leioa School of Restaurant Management and was one of the youngest pupils in my year. Three years later I started my professional career.
I learned Basque cuisine at traditional restaurants and worked in several avant-garde kitchens, with the aim of forming some criteria that could help me to create a personal style, a long path. My cuisine represents all those things that excite me and I show them through the products from my environment and through the flavors of memory. I share my experience by developing a personal language to create pleasure and happiness.
Paths are full of coincidences. And one of them was that I crossed paths with Bixente Arrieta. He gave me the opportunity to take on a beautiful project, and over the years, he has given me the confidence to develop it. Without his support the personal and professional development that I have gone through would not have been possible. It is essential to have a voice that helps you to think, to keep your feet on the ground…
I started working in the kitchens of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in late 1998. But in the year 2000, when my cuisine was starting to take shape, a motorcycle accident left me in a coma for 21 days, on the brink of death. I awoke, but without the senses of taste nor smell, the essential tools of any chef. I had to learn how to taste things again, to recognize flavors and aromas.
When I was still recovering from the consequences of the accident, I decided to take part in the Best Young Chef competition, a motivation to restore my passion. My success in that competition took me back into the profession; thanks to this award I felt I was a chef again, a feeling that I had lost along with my senses of taste and smell.
In the year 2003 I found the key: research. It was essential to analyze the products in depth, to learn about their origins, their uses, their properties, their potential… The creative process, the fundamental part of my cuisine, was born—analyzing, reflecting, adopting different approaches.
Since then and thanks to a strong commitment by the R&D department, I have been gradually perfecting, season by season, my style of cuisine: pure, essential, without disguises.
Since then and thanks to a strong commitment by the R&D department, I have been gradually perfecting, season by season, my style of cuisine: pure, essential, without disguises.
In 2011 I was able to fulfil my dream of having my own space. Juan Ignacio Vidarte, the director of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, faithful to his desire to offer a taste of Bilbao’s gastronomic culture, made the opening of Nerua a reality. It is a space designed for a complete and memorable experience. The experience invites us to reflect on and question every single thing. The steps taken in the creation of Nerua were captured in the documentary by TVE Nerua, el sabor de la Ría. (‘Nerua, the taste of the River’)
Our top priority is to share all the knowledge acquired during these years. This is what I have done with the publication of the book Muina (2013), with the documentary Nerua Guggenheim Bilbao, un viaje a la esencia (2014) and with my blog, where I explain in detail the products we use, I talk about our experiences cooking in other countries, about the producers who make Nerua possible…
In 2009 Alija is acknowledged as the Best International Chef by Identità Golose and one year later he received the Award for Conceptual Innovation.
In 2011, Nerua received its first star in the Michelin Guide and 3 Suns in the Repsol Guide.
The International Academy of Gastronomy also awarded him the Prix du Chef de L’Avenir in 2011 (The Chef of the Future Award).
In 2015, the prestigious magazine Restaurant included Nerua for the first time in its list of the world’s 100 best restaurants. In 2019, Nerua gets the world's 50 best restaurants in the position 32.

Nature sets the pace of our kitchen, we adapt to each season without censorship to do the cuisine that we feel. A local cuisine that begins at the vegetable gardens, in the sea, and in the farms.
Our experience is the best technique, we cook with freedom to create pleasure and enjoyment. Faithful to our principles, we defend our environment and the producers who make our goal possible: to be at the cutting edge and to innovate without losing the flavor of our roots.
“Muina”-Basque for core, heart, or essence- is the soul of our kitchen.

Core, heart, essence… Muina has no literal translation in English. But is the term that best identifies my way of seeing things, among them gastronomy. It is the world that best defines me. It refers to the soul, the substance, but also the brain and knowledge.
Muina is a general concept that encapsulates what I am and what I offer. It enables the creative process to be viewed as a journey to the source of the things, to their roots, allowing their true potential to be developed fully through the description of rounded, complete and pleasurable sensations. This is what Muina holds: a very personal representation of the world and the reality that surrounds me.
Acceptance, specification and loyalty to a series of values lead me to follow the same path constantly, never straying from it. It is the determination to share knowledge, research, projects, life experiences and emotions.
Muina is the way in which I understand a complete gastronomic experience, the unique result of focusing attention on the purity of things.

Josean Alija Josean Alija Josean Alija

2019 World's 50 best restaurants No.32
2015 World's 100 best restaurants No. 68
2011 Michelin 1 star
2011 3 Suns in the Repsol Guide.
2011 The Chef of the Future Award by The International Academy of Gastronomy Prix du Chef de L’Avenir

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