Born in Argentina to a family of Italian immigrants, Chef Paulo Airaudo wandered as a youth throughout Latin America and Europe. This wanderlust is now mirrored in his vocation, as he has opened restaurants in Geneva in Switzerland, Barcelona and San Sebastian in Spain, Hong Kong, and London in the U.K. Next up—Bogotá in Colombia.
In late 2021 his restaurant Amelia in the northern Spanish city of San Sebastián won its second Michelin star.
Amelia is on the basement level of the relatively new Villa Favorita boutique hotel. The hotel includes hand painted images on walls, a prim bar with elevated and cooled wine racks on the back wall, and a porch that looks across a pedestrian and bicycle riddled walkway to the sandy, semicircular bay of La Concha.
Tattooed, muscled, attentive—Airaudo is a soft-spoken yet driven entrepreneur. Customers perch at the Amelia restaurant bar that faces a well-orchestrated kitchen staff of more than 20, all attentively preparing dishes with synchronized grace and calmness.
Ninety percent of Amelia’s dishes include sea food. Dishes are generally a mesmerizing rodeo of flavors woven with texture. The sensations can floor you; some can even make an excellent wine appear two dimensional in comparison. (Before each dish, a sommelier appears to share the story of the accompanying wine.)
The ingredients are local and varied. Consider a recent eight course menu matched with seven wines and a beer:
- Hamachi fish, fennel, turnip and horseradish—paired with a 2020 Austrian wabi-sabi Riesling
- Baby eels, wild broccoli and Iberian pork—paired with a 2019 Lazaro orange wine from Masiero
- Lobster and pumpkin—paired with a 2018 Catena Alta Chardonnay
- Monkfish with garlic, anchovies and white truffle shavings—paired with a rich red blend from Hoch Harald in northern Austria
- Roasted pigeon with spinach and beetroot—paired with a 2016 Nus del Terrier Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache blend from Catalonia
- Calamari soup with Italian style ramen noodles—paired with a Basque Mammamia Sour beer
- Banana rum ice cream and caviar—paired with Ca’d’Gal Lumine Moscato d’Asti
- Cheese topped with fruits and balsamic—paired with 2014 late harvest sweet Txakoli from Kaldatz Fiñ.
Airaudo selects his own music playlist, which hits heavily on the 70’s and 80’s—including Supertramp, Stones, Sabbath, Bowie, Beatles, Blues Brothers, Bonnie Tyler and Dylan.
In a city with almost a dozen Michelin starred restaurants, what sets Amelia apart is the transparent whirring kitchen scene: stagecraft paired with dinner. The overall impact of food, wines and music is uplifting, and often surprising.