Class of 2022

Javier Rivero Yarza

Hospitality Pioneers

31 / Tolosa, Spain

The Basque restaurateur putting small farmers front and centre

“I wake up every day thinking about what producer I’m going to talk to,” says Javier Rivero Yarza, whose restaurant Ama Taberna revolves around the ingredients that local farmers supply on any given day. He never negotiates the price of their produce and if the product he wants isn’t available, he’ll chat to the farmer about what is available instead of going elsewhere. In this way, he hopes to educate diners while supporting local producers and creating a menu that communicates the best of Basque in dishes such as roasted leeks and lobster salad. Javier is also passionate about providing a healthy working environment for his team, with a strong training programme and a policy of making sure nobody works more than eight hours or day and five days a week.

Born in Villabona, 20km from San Sebastián, Javier was 19 years old when his mother died, changing his home environment entirely. He missed the love for food that she brought to the house and thus vowed to follow a career path that would revalue the connection between food, love and affection. He swapped his engineering degree for a course at the Basque Culinary Center before opening Ama Taberna with co-owner Gorka Rica in Tolosa, one of the strongest food towns in the Basque Country. With ‘ama’ meaning ‘mother’ in Basque, the restaurant is a tribute to his mother and also pays homage to women and their relevance in Basque culinary culture. Ama Taberna showcases the region’s treasures and the work of its farmers and fishermen, while helping turn the gastronomy sector into a better, more sustainable, and caring place both for its customers and workers. Having opened a second restaurant called Enea in San Sebastián in 2021, also with Gorka Rico, Javier shows commitment to his philosophy of championing local people and produce.

“We have a very special relationship with our producers. We never negotiate the price of their products. They’re part of our family." – Javier Rivero Yarza

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