Josean Alija (Bilbao, 1978) began his career at the age of seventeen. Under the tutelage of the great contemporary masters in the restaurant industry he has been able to cultivate his own style. He has developed a purist style in which aromas, textures and flavours are main components, but also an avant-garde style that even the chef Paul Bocuse has identified as "one of the best cuisines in his life."
Alija, true to his love of challenges, intends to dazzle those who savour his work with the essence of the earth and its produce. He has built his cooking around this theme and his work has been recognized earning him multiple awards. Best Young Chef Award in 2000, Best International Chef by Identitá Golose in 2009 and Conceptual Innovation Award in 2010 are examples of his internationally acclaimed awards.
His creations are the roast duck foie gras with candied carrots (most artistic dish in 2002), casein whipped with strawberry and violet ice cream (most beautiful dish in 2003) or the cold juice of bitter cocoa with milk and anise ice cream (Best Dessert in 2004) have also been awarded, thus demonstrating the intensity and success of this young chef's career.
In recent years, Alija has developed projects running parallel to his work in the kitchen, such as the Creativity Course in Arteleku with Juan Luis Moraza (2006) or the creation of a temporary garden with artist Artur Bossi (2007). He has also collaborated in research on cancer prevention based on nutrition with Dr. Jesus Garcia Foncillas (2008) and in eco-friendly events, such as the "green procurement" day organized by IHOBE in 2009.
Alija has been collaborating with illycaffè since 2012. They combine their knowledge to develop a project which underlines the coffee's characteristics and its different applications in gastronomy. This cooperation was captured in 'Artistas del gusto', a documentary that explains the creative process of Nerua through the green coffee and the elaboration of recipes. At Milano Expo 2015, Alija will present all the advance achieved along last three years.
In 2013, Alija published his book Muina, in which he embodies his very personal culinary universe. This first editorial project allows him to approach the creative process as a journey to the origin of things, to their roots, with the idea of fully developing their authentic potential. The book has three chapters: SOUL, PHILOSOPHY AND CREATIONS.
In 2014, 'Nerua Guggenheim Bilbao, a journey into essence' was released, a proposal that goes beyond gastronomy, this documentary picks up on the roots and details of this chef's project at Nerua, the restaurant at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. It's a personal vision of his understanding of cuisine and its relationship with its surroundings. Directed by Iván Miñambres, it has been screened at various national and international festivals such as the San Sebastian Film Festival, Slow Filme in Brazil, Kinookus in Dubrovnik, Film&Cook in Madrid and Barcelona, etc. At the CineEsCena international gastronomic film festival in Ciudad de la Laguna, it took the award for best documentary in the official publicity section.
Every week, Alija also analyses the products that he uses in his day to day work in ON magazine, published by Grupo Noticias, as well as on the Onda Vasca radio station.
In 2011 he received his first Michelin star and 3 Soles in the gastronomic Guide called Guía Repsol.
The International Academy of Gastronomy awarded the Prix du Chef de L'Avenir 2011 (Chef of the Future).
Cuaderno Matoses selected Nerua as the second best restaurant in 2014, after visiting over 350 restaurants in more than 20 countries. They also named Josean Alija as the best chef of the year.
In 2015, Nerua has been included for the first time in the World’s 100 Best Restaurants list by the prestigious magazine Restaurant.
The artist Jeff Koons, creator of one of the signature pieces of work in the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, as Puppy is, refers to art as something that is not an object, but rather in the mind of the observer.
This same line of thought is what the restaurant Nerua wishes to convey, getting visitors to create their own dining experience, making the means to do so accessible to the diner.
Our language originates in reflection, coupled with innovation, and is transferred to all aspects of the restaurant, integrating the senses.