The basement where Azurmendi (three Michelin stars) Hacina to his fellows

The basement where Azurmendi (three Michelin stars) Hacina to his fellows

A semi -kit.Three rooms, each with six aligned bunk beds and some high and narrow lockers to save the belongings.12 people in 20m² with a single window just at ground level.Humidity and heat, food bags and clothes for the soil and under the bed.A kitchen and a shared bath for 36 people.One -hour tails to prepare dinner and see after 17 hours of almost uninterrupted and unrestranted work.Two washing machines and two dryers of which only half works.All that happens below, what everyone knows as 'La Cueva'.Up what happens is the daily feast of Azurmendi, the most sustainable restaurant in the world according to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.Three Michelin stars, 43 on the list of best restaurants, 220 euros the menu without pairing.

"Personnel rotation is brutal.Most of the boys who arrive to do practices do not endure more than two weeks.Some are crying within a few days, "says Adrián, one of these fellows, who after exactly 18 days as an employee without a salary of Azurmendi decided that he had already had enough, it doesn't matter if he had crossed half the world to get to Bilbao to fulfill a dream.A few weeks ago he said enough, he took a plane and turned.One more fall, a hot bed ready for the next student.Far from going to less, the work and personal miseries of the apprentices in the Michelin restaurants are still as valid as ever.

Ángel León tiene dos estrellas Michelin y este 'piso patera' para sus 16 becarios David Brunat

The contract in Azurmendi is the following.The restaurant puts the bed, which according to the apprentices is a crushed somier in an iron bunk, and also pays for lunch on service days, which are all but Mondays.The interested parties take care of dinner, in those infamous tails at midnight, faces defeated after 12 hours of intense work during the week and a double shift of 17 hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

Azurmendi does not pay any salary to the 15 students that usually have more than 50% of the staff in the stoves.Students have to bring all the kitchen tools except for the apron and have to leave 100 euros of deposit when they arrive in case they break something.The first day, the student gets off the taxi (the bus not for that height of the road in Larrabetzu), is heading to the back door of the restaurant and dryly, without greater preamble, is accommodated in 'La Cueva' '."Come, dress quickly and go up," they ordered Toni.I was ready to start working from sun to sun until the body endures.Only a few brave resist the four or six months of the Practices Agreement or the particular Agreement of 'Stagier'.

This newspaper has spoken with three students who went through Azurmendi's kitchen this summer.Everyone agrees: it is the worst professional and human experience they have had in life.Two endured two weeks, one month."The first day I started at 7.45 in the morning and end at 1.30 in the morning.Two 20 -minute breaks to eat and dinner.I spent the whole day scoring bells and cleaning pots.Four days was destroyed, "explains Pedro [all the names of this article are fictitious so as not to compromise his professional career].

El sótano donde Azurmendi (tres estrellas Michelin) hacina a sus becarios

After 12 hours of service they told me to go out compost.I put my boots and come to bury fish heads

Adrián had more than a day to leave at 5 in the morning to collect flowers to the fabulous mountain that surrounds the restaurant, disinfect them, keep them and then complete their 12 hours of rigor.Toni had several days to go out to make compost, one of Azurmendi's sustainable proud."After 12 hours of service, at 8pm, they told me to go out compost.I put my boots and come to bury fish heads, que eso olía a rayos.And I think: but if I'm not a gardener ".

Mondays, the only day off (on Sunday there is half a day, but it touches in depth clean), the fellows must go out to make the purchase."You walk to the bus stop and you go to Bilbao to make the purchase, which is half an hour.You have to buy dinner all week and do it with a lead so as not to run out of budget, ”says Pedro."The rest of the day you dedicate yourself to rest because you are burst.I left without tourism for Bilbao or once.One day I calculated the steps and I got 23.500 ".

Azurmendi has declined to value or put in context the testimonies of these ex -employed in practices.In an article published in 'El País' in those same weeks when 50% of its workforThe most sustainable restaurant in the world.

Azurmendi, who in his chef's words is launching a "humanistic revolution," declined offering his point of view

"Since 2014 we have grown up as people with common and responsible sense, involved in working for a better future," says Atxa.And complete: "I think it's time for there to be other revolutions [in haute cuisine], such as humanistic.This has to come from common sense, from sustainability and environmental care and also to take care of ourselves, people.Hence we worry about family reconciliation ".According to the chef, it allows several booklets per week and offers its brigade a balanced diet of vegetables, carbohydrates and proteins.

Psychological pressure

"It is normal for you to present the first day in the kitchen and, without explaining anything, begin to ask for things.'Bring this or the other', but nobody has told you where it is or how it is done.If you do something a little bad, they tell you 'turn away, get scratch'.The atmosphere is very tense, the starting chiefs humble you and shout you constantly, I suppose what they have learned there.To Eneko Atxa or see it, he is his sings.He never told me and much less taught me any technique, "says Pedro."Among the students we support each other but you are very alone, there is a lot of competition.During the 12 hours of service you cannot speak.As soon as you say something, even if it is a question because you have not heard well, they tell you 'TSSS!'Or they hit you a shout, "Toni continues.

During the 12 hours of service you cannot speak.As soon as you say something, even if it is a question, they tell you 'TSSS!'or they scream

Of the three, Adrián was the luckiest.He was allowed to cook regularly."I spent the day stirring sauces, all with a simple mayonnaise base, and opening and climbing oysters.I didn't learn anything, but I was lucky because many others were dedicated to cleaning the kitchen.I got friends with one of the five starting chiefs and one day I asked 'you hear you must charge well to endure all this'.And he told me, what is it going, I charge 800 euros'.'And how do you hold this abuse?' I asked.'For the curriculum.I'm going to endure two more months here and then send them to the garet '.

There lies the axis on which the apparent abuse of the Michelin restaurants pivot: the student's desire to get a letter of recommendation once their stay is finished."When you throw the towel you feel a lot of frustration.You punish you for not being able to finish, but that is inhuman.Many spend the day crying after a few weeks, they just endure because their school has paid them a scholarship to come from another country and if they leave they have to return the money.Of the ten that we entered my spring, there was only one left when I left.Everything is very abrupt, they shout and undervalue to a minimum error or doubt.A girl who had been four months now told me: 'Welcome to hell'.Soon I understood it, "says Adrián.

Azurmendi's work reality has many points in common with that of Martín Berasategui.In fact, it is not disposable that Eneko Atxa has been inspired by the famous chef to design his human resources plan.Berasategui also has its fellows in a basement under the restaurant in which they sleep in biths after marathon days.Ten years ago, a group of former Berasategui exbecarios said things like this: "You enter at 8 in the morning and with luck you eat 20 minutes dignity at noon.The lentils we ate, imagine, linked them with cornstarch when they were not made, or chorizo or anything.You work almost 15-16 hours per day "."I have seen people cry during the services, people who went up to work and did not end the day ... to the fucking street, some shouts ... they fly if something goes wrong".

A fellows picadora

Each fellow has a resistance limit in Azurmendi and comes a day in which he explodes."You saw that one came in and one came out.There are about 40 [between kitchen and living room] and the rotation is constant.When they accepted me very happy, Eneko Atxa was my favorite chef and I thought 'how lucky, how easy it was', but now I understand why, "says Pedro, already with the serenity that takes the passfound a chef job in a renowned family restaurant in your native province."I didn't go for a concrete warm or anger.It was the accumulation, came the day I could not anymore, I was tired of feeling shit.I told the headquarters [the Mexican Pilar Lojero] that I was leaving and he only told me: 'Very good, you leave but tonight you can't stay to sleep here'.So I suddenly saw myself in the street in Bilbao, without knowing anyone ".

Adrián's experience, the luckiest of the three since he could at least play the stoves, was similar: "I talked to Pilar and said without flinching, 'Okay, in an hour you have to be out'.'And my suitcase?', I asked, since they keep you in a attic.'Someone will bring you'.They gave it to me, I put my things inside and I had to go out as if I were a stink ".Finally, Alberto tells his private ordeal.'I said enough Saturday and they told me' Now you can't leave, wait for Sunday that nobody sees you '.So at 6 in the morning I saw myself on the street, climbing to a taxi and looking for a plane to return to my house ".The three students, with an average age of 25 years, have paid work as chefs in different restaurants.