Your first taste of txakoli, the sight of a bar filled with tapas, the smell of fresh olive oil being pressed, the feel of thinly sliced jamón ibérico between your fingers...your senses are sharper at the source. We believe travel should be unique and personal, but most of all, it should be authentic. Explore a culture through its food and drink, its producers and chefs and the love and "mimo" they put into all their creations.
Since we were founded in San Sebastián, Spain, in 2009, we strive to bring the mimo to visitors who want to immerse themselves in local food culture. Live the Mimo experience on our culinary tours, at our gourmet shops in San Sebastián (San Sebastián Food) and Sevilla (Mimo Sevilla), as well as in our luxury cooking school located in the Hotel Maria Cristina in the centre of San Sebastián. Our team of locals is passionate about sharing their culture, offering a taste of its delicious dishes, and welcoming you into the Mimo family.
Managing Director & Founder
After working as a city banker in London, Jon took a holiday to San Sebastian and shortly after dropped everything to live in this beautiful city by the sea. While working in hospitality at Villa Soro he recognized the city’s need for a food tourism hub and San Sebastian Food was born. What started as a dream quickly grew from pintxo tours to a bricks-and-mortar location. In autumn of 2014, he moved San Sebastian Food into its new home in the famed Hotel Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel, with the inauguration of the San Sebastián Food Gourmet Shop. In April 2015, he opened the San Sebastian Food Cooking School. Always hungry, he has expanded the business to include Mimo Sevilla, a gourmet shop and culinary experiences business in Seville, Spain.
Operations & Development Manager
Nerea was born in San Sebastián, and like the rest of us, she loves to eat. She studied ADE at Deusto University, specializing in Strategic Management. It was there that her passion for the business world rwas born. At the beginning of her career, Nerea worked in strategy and operations consulting, participating in projects in various sectors. Through many hours of work and dedication, she was trained in business management, developing an intuition for managing. Later, Nerea went on to work for a food industry multinational, directing the operations of various countries. Nerea decided to return to San Sebastián and she joined San Sebastián Food in 2016.
Charles Irving is an investor and founder of Pond Ventures, a venture capital fund started in 1996 operating in Europe and California. The fund has invested in over 50 start-ups over three funds, profitably employing around $200,000,000.
Previously Charles had a 20 year career with Glencore in the crude oil market. He has lived in Kenya, Brasil and the UK.
He feels at home internationally and especially in San Sebastian where he has been visiting for nearly 30 years. Charles met San Sebastian Food through the shop, where he became enamoured of the product and especially the team.
He is now an investor and Chairman of San Sebastian Food. He brings business experience to the team and enjoys promoting the Basque region and San Sebastian Food globally.
Charles is passionate about food and wine as well the arts.
Booking & Events
Nerea loves the sea, which comes as no surprise since she’s always got a tan! When she is not keeping our calendars full and creating bespoke itineraries for our guests, Nerea’s on the beach and shredding the surf. The Basque native received her Bachelor’s degree in hospitality and tourism and her Masters in public relations at the University of Deusto and ISSA University of Navarra respectively. She spent the last several years in sunny Tarifa working in active sports tourism organizing everything from adventure itineraries to kitesurfing lessons. In 2013 Nerea returned to San Sebastian to take in more of the waves and enjoy the good life in her native Basque Country.
Lara is a San Sebastián native who received a degree in translation and interpretation in English, Spanish and Basque from the University of El País Vasco. She received her Masters in Public Relations and Event Management at University of UB and INSA in Barcelona. Lara coordinates corporate events for San Sebastián Food using her inside knowledge of the city by the sea.
One of San Sebastián Food’s travel curators, Eider has been passionate about travel her entire life. It wasn’t until she began university that she realized she wanted to incorporate that love into her career choice and decided to study Tourism at the Universidad de Deusto in San Sebastián. Since then she has had numerous internships and jobs across the tourism and hospitality industries. Her cheerful voice is the first one most of our clients hear upon entering our cooking school.
Marti Buckley Kilpatrick
Marketing & Brand Manager
Marti Buckley Kilpatrick
Marti Buckley Kilpatrick is an Alabama, USA native who heads up San Sebastián Food’s brand and marketing, bringing experience in every facet of the food world, from production to packaging design to marketing. Her career began in the world of print journalism but veered to professional kitchens, where she worked under one of America’s most awarded chefs, Frank Stitt. After falling in love with Basque Country in 2005 during her studies at Louisiana State University, in 2010 Marti moved to San Sebastián for good. Since the move, she has worked as marketing head for an artisan goat cheese company, started her own pop-up bakery bicycle, appeared regularly on national television, and managed an international program for young chefs coming to Basque Country. She left her spot as a baker at one of the city’s best bakeries to join San Sebastián Food as Brand Manager & Creative Designer.
Intimately familiar with the artisans of the Basque Country and Spain, her love for food and drink is only rivaled by her obsession with tennis, running, and surfing (poorly). She is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines worldwide, recently having been published in Travel & Leisure and Draft magazine, among others. Her recipes have been printed in the New York Times, Remedy Quarterly, and more. She can be followed on her blog, www.travelcookeat.com.
Laura is San Sebastián Food’s number cruncher. With over ten years of experience in the field, she makes sure all the boxes are checked and everything is running smoothly. In 2009 she received a degree in Business and Accounting, and she is a backbone of the back end of SSF business. Always smiling, she makes the numbers not so bad to deal with. In between meetings and phone calls, she never misses the chance to taste the latest creations from the new SSF Cooking School.
Culinary Guides & Curators
Senior Guide & Partnership Manager
“To know Lourdes is to love Lourdes,” said one of guests some years ago AND IT IS TRUE! Lourdes is vivacious with a passion for all things food, wine and San Sebastian—her native home. Lourdes Erquicia was born in the Old Town, and grew up there surrounded by a culinary atmosphere. Her mother a was private chef for a wealthy local family, while her grandmother worked in the harbor and her grandfather at the local market in a fruit and vegetables stall.
When she was 17 years old, her family opened a bar in the center of town, where she worked until the age of 21, when she decided to move to London for an adventure. Soon she was contracted to manage a small seafood restaurant in Kent, where she worked for over 10 years.
She married a Brit and had two children, but ultimately decided to come back to San Sebastián so her new family could enjoy the free and secure upbringing she had. In 2006 she worked at the María Cristina Hotel and two years later she took the position as Head of Food and Beverages at the Astoria7. But, as Lourdes says, she needed a closer relation with her clients, and went back to manage another restaurant until 2012, when Jon Warren gave her the opportunity to try a new approach to hospitality and contracted her as a culinary guide. She quickly became one of our most popular guides and now leads our tours department. Lourdes’ larger than life personality and never-ending anecdotes about San Sebastian, her grandmother and the history of the Basque Country never cease to amaze and delight. Always ready for a glass of wine, a pintxo and a laugh, you cannot help but catch her special enthusiasm.
Culinary Guide Manager
Eli was born and raised in this lovely city by the sea and is the living embodiment of all things culinary, Basque and fun. Eli’s enthusiasm is simply contagious and you’ll feel like you’ve made a new best friend during one of her energetic tours! Eli worked in hospitality in Barcelona before moving on to Scotland to perfect her English at The Scotsman, a five-star resort in Edinburgh, where she quickly rose up the ranks and became a manager within months. Returning to the Basque country she worked at the famed La Viña taberna where she met San Sebastian Food founder Jon Warren and became the company’s first employee. Now overseeing our team of elite culinary guides, Eli’s always on the beat searching for the perfect pintxo and good times!
Tito was born in San Sebastián and, as is to be expected, is totally in love with food. He began working in the restaurant industry just to pay his way through college, but he ended up finding his passion. He learned how to cut jamón ibérico by hand, as well as discovering a passion for wine that he nourished on his own time. He landed a job running one of the best restaurant wine cellars in the city, where over eight years he learned to understand clients’ tastes and the art of teaching about Spanish wines. He spends his free time with his family, having fun explaining the world to his children Lucia and Diego.
Culinary & Wine Guides
Vicky was raised in the Basque Country, until she went to London at the age of 18 to study tourism, hoping to find a job that allowed her to travel. For most of her life, she did just that, working in tourism, bookings, congress organization and as a guide. She has enjoyed taking groups around different countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Within Spain, she has led everyone from Americans, along the peaks of the Camino de Santiago, to soccer teams, on European tours. She loves to work with people and has gotten to know many people throughout her career, some as interesting as Frank Gehry. She also met her husband at work, and the moved to Morrocco where she lived for five years and began to have children.
Vicky speaks French, Italian, English and Spanish. She loves to travel, art, literature and food (not just Basque), since cooking is also art. Some day she hopes to have time to go back to hiking in the mountains.
Ane is one of our vibrant, smiling culinary guides. Born and raised in San Sebastián, her passion for local food extends to art, cinema and culture.
In addition to spending time in Portugal while getting her degree in Tourism at the University of Deusto, she has travelled and worked extensively in France. She worked in the Aquitane region of France, putting on events and exhibitions for the Musée d'Aquitaine, and flitted amongst museum and cultural projects in Paris during the two years she spent living there. In her free time she also loves dance, swimming, and yoga...and she rides her bike everywhere. Taking a tour or cooking class with spontaneous Ane means a guaranteed fun time!
Arantxa is currently one of San Sebastian Food´s culinary curators. Her love for food & for San Sebastian make her a perfect fit for the company. She studied Tourism at Deusto University as well as at the Hotel Management School of Maastricht; afterwards, she went on to study Events, Communication and Protocol at ESDEN Business School where she earned her Master degree. While working in Brussels she organized events and communication focused around Sustainability & Innovation.
Arantxa loves to meet new people, speak other languages, and in the perfect situation, do it over a good meal and a drink. Every chance she gets she is traveling, but when she is in town you can find her at the cinema or a concert.
Iñigo studied history with the dream of becoming a teacher, which he originally pursued in the nearby village of Lasarte before heading to the faraway “village” of London. There he learned English, worked in the restaurant industry, and finally returned to San Sebastián.
In his free time, he loves reading and learning about new things and traveling. You can find him every week during football season at the stadium supporting the Real Sociedad. His perfect night consists of cooking in a sociedad, one of his hobbies, trying a new artisan beer, and spending time with his friends. His favorite part of working at San Sebastián Food is spending time with the clients and sharing his culture while learning more about others.
Chef Patricio Fuentes comes from a foodie family with Italian-Basque roots. From a family of 8 children, he grew up with a mother who constantly cooked and a father who insisted on gathering everyone around the table, every day. Patricio got a taste of the travel bug as a near-professional rugby player in South America. After years of traveling through Europe and Scandinavia, he decided to settle in Madrid to dedicate his energy to cuisine. He began to study cooking at the Casa de Campo in Madrid, where some of Basque cooking's most emblematic figures began their journey, from Juan Mari Arzak, Pedro Subijana and more. With the desire to continue learning, he moved to Euskadi and began working with Josu Muguerza at his restaurant Belaustegi, learning the traditional Basque cuisine from the inside out while maintaining his studies in the UPV "Leioa" in Bilbao. "Pato" spends his free time listening to music and spending time with his family."Pato" has a passion for teaching that you have to see to believe....and he's also the man to have on your team for an impromptu rugby match.
Agustin is a multi-talented food professional and one of the most charming men in all of San Sebastian. After growing up in the Basque Country he set his sights abroad to perfect his English and embark on a culinary world tour. Starting in Sydney during the 2000 Olympic games, Agus worked as a chef in a top Spanish restaurant. He then journeyed on to California, to work as a waiter and behind the bar in some of San Francisco’s hottest spots—it’s also where he met his wife! Returning home to the Basque Country he settled down in a farmhouse in the mountains and grows gourmet produce that’s sold in a handful of shops around town. Agus has worked at many of the finest pintxo bars in town and has been giving tours with San Sebastian Food since 2013. When he’s not having a pintxo in the Parte Vieja, hanging out with the family, or sowing seeds on the farm, you’ll find him riding giant waves in Zarautz.
Mateus Mendes comes from a family that loves to eat, so cooking was always a part of his life. With Brazilian and French roots, Mateus began his journey in the culinary world in Monaco, where he worked as a stage in a Mediterranean restaurant. His appetite for new flavors led him to San Sebastián. Most of his training took place in San Sebastián, and in prestigious kitchens including Martín Berasategui he learned the fundamentals of Basque cuisine. He continued his journey, passing through England, Australia, Indonesia and Brazil, before returning to Basque Country to deepen his knowledge. Today, Mateus searches for the history of Basque Cuisine in traditional recipes with a touch of sophistication, but always with the local flavors intact.
Cristina Ibañez was raised in the kitchen. In between cooking gigs for aristocracy, her amona (Basque for grandmother) taught her the cornerstones of local cuisine from an early age. And we are certainly grateful—this strong foundation in Basque cuisine along with Cristina’s larger-than-life personality makes for unbeatable cooking classes. Cristina specialises in classic Basque cooking and even holds an award for the best marmitako (tuna soup) in San Sebastián. It’s not all Basque, all the time, however—Cristina also makes a mean paella, big or small. And by big, we mean a gigantic one that fed over 250 people.
When she’s not teaching the ins-and-outs of Basque cuisine, you can find Cristina styling plates for movies and digging into a plate of percebes, her favorite dish.
Elba is the head of facilities at San Sebastián Food. She is our handywoman, always ready to help with and fix anything. The best part? She does it with a smile. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Elba brings a fresh, sunny air to our cooking school.
Cooking School Assistant
Iker Pedrosa Ucero doesn't always talk about himself in third person, but he makes an exception for this mini bio. Born in 1983, he has authored various books: A Un Verso de Jim Morrison, ed: Alhulia (2009), Muerte del Rey Soldado de Rohan, winner of the XXVII Certamen Poético Ángel Martínez Baigorri, ed: Fecit (2012) and Sith Vicious, ed: Libros del Aire (2014). He also appears in various short story and poetry anthologies and writes an online column. His new novel Hikikomori (Love in The Time of Wifi), ed. Tandaia, comes out this year. In his writing, gastronomy doesn't have much of a presence, but in real life it definitely does: he loves good food and good company. He has a B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy, and he enjoys playing sports as well as the arts.
Gourmet Shop & Retail
Supply Chain Manager
Itxaso (pronounded “ee-cha-so”) means ocean in Basque, which is a great name for a San Sebastian native! As the manager of our gourmet boutique and online retail shops, Itxaso is always on the hunt for select artisanal products from local producers and family farms. From olive oils and salts to chocolates and biscuits, Itxaso builds relationships with regional purveyors and give everything a proper taste test before deciding if it’s San Sebastian Food material. Make sure to ask Itxaso about her latest culinary discoveries when you’re in town! Itxaso received two degrees from the University of Deusto, one in business and humanities the other in tourism. She lived in London for two years working in event production and hospitality before returning to her native San Sebastian to work in tourism. She has in-depth knowledge on her hometown and its food scene and loves searching for new places. When she’s not at work she’s usually travelling or baking in the kitchen perfecting her cupcake recipe.
Gourmet Shop Manager
Nagore joined the San Sebastian Food team in March 2014, helping to develop our new gourmet shop. She was born in Zarautz, just 20 minutes from San Sebastian, with a farming and Txakoli wine growing background. However, Nagore dreamt about traveling from an early age and subsequently lived in London and the Middle East working for a software company and latterly 4 years for the Dubai film festival.
Having enjoyed experiencing different cultures, she is now firmly settled back into her hometown with her family and friends. Nagore is one the friendliest people you could ever meet, with a natural talent for engaging people. She loves sports and reading.
Gourmet shop Curator & Online Shop coordinator
Monica was born in the Philippines and grew up in the small island of Cebu. When she was 14, she moved to a prep school in New Jersey, just an hour away from New York and ended up falling in love with the city so she decided to go to NYU, where she graduated with a double degree in Economics and Politics. She started her career in a fashion house.
She is a global girl, who wants to know everything she can about every corner of the world… especially what people eat. Food, surf and her Basque roots brought her to San Sebastian for vacation and after spending just a month here on holiday and taking a cooking class with San Sebastian Food, she wanted to stay. Now she's working hard in the gourmet shop to give guests a personal shopping experience. When she is not working, she enjoys exploring the charming seaside towns nearby, hiking, and surfing.
Nicole heads up the retail division of San Sebastian Food, bringing a wealth of experience in marketing, relationship building and corporate account management as well as a passion for food and wine. In 2009, she moved to the Basque Country, relocating after 10 years in the film industry as a marketing executive. Nicole continued to work in film marketing as a consultant before taking a career break for the birth of her daughter Emilia in 2013.
In June 2014, she took up the position of Retail Manager for San Sebastian Food. She lives in San Sebastian with her daughter, son and husband Jon.
Gourmet Shop & Retail
Gourmet Shop & Wine Curator
If anything sums up Adolfo, it is his passion for Sevilla. He has been fascinated by discovering the traditions of his city. Though he studied business management, he has always been drawn to history and other cultures, which he explored in his travels to Ireland and the United Kingdom. He assures us, however, he hasn’t found the happiness he finds in Sevilla anywhere else.
He loves getting to know people and enjoys a good conversation, which is in part why he is so passionate about Sevilla and its tapa culture. Nothing is better than sharing a good chat over a better sherry along with something delicious to eat.
Born in probably the most beautiful city of the world, Sevilla, Javier is a true believer in the city’s cuisine. Raised in a family of true lovers of traditional food, Javier has always moved in the foodie circles of the city. At a young age, started to work in restaurants and bars and, in all of them, he has always conveyed the passion and good taste of local cuisine. He studied human resources and law, working all the while as a waiter, a maitre’d, and at catering companies. Currently he combines his work in a law firm with this new adventure as culinary guide. This job is tailormade for Javier, as it is a version of how he spends his free time with friends and family.
Javier likes to be surrounded by good people, to share good food and good wine, and to talk about life. He lives to meet people from other countries and share his knowledge of the local cuisine.
Nerea de Coca
Gourmet Shop Curator
Nerea de Coca
Nerea was born in Sevilla, with views of the Avenida de la Palmera and the Parque de María Luisa, which could be why one of the loves of her life is nature. The other is travel, thanks to a hotel director father, which meant a childhood experienced in several different cities, from Sevilla to Madrid, La Coruña, Huelva and more. She learned to love getting to know new culturas, which prompted her to travel to various remote places and embark on one of her life’s biggest adventures—living in Africa for three years. She feel in love with the people, the landscapes, and the culture.
Nerea loves handmade things, and she loves to learn crafts. Photography and writing are a couple of her hobbies, though traveling and learning about other cultures comes in a close second. She is extroverted and happy, with a unique personality, which no doubt comes from her medley of Andalusian, Basque and African roots.
Gourmet Shop Curator
Maria was born in Huelva but studied at the Universidad de Sevilla, where she began to experience the wide world of tapas. An economist by trade, her love for the intersection of food and culture makes Mimo Sevilla a perfect fit for her. She set aside her career as an economist to pursue a career in the culinary field, a field she feels is capable of making the world a better place, of generating action and reflection, and even of influencing war and peace.
Maria combines her passion for traveling, the sea, and food with a desire to get to know different cultures, learn about local products, and make friends across the globe. In 2015, Maria returned to Huelva to rejoin her family and enjoy the sea and local cuisine before returning to Sevilla in 2016.
Aldara Arias de Saavedra
Aldara Arias de Saavedra
Aldara was born and raised in Seville, but she loves travelling and getting to know people across the world. She studied philosophy and interior design, and she has lived abroad in Italy and Germany. As well as learning about what other countries have to offer, she came to appreciate the many things she missed in Spain, and since coming back wants to show her own city and culture to others in the most personal way.
Laura was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and has been living in Spain for almost 9 years. She moved to Seville when she was 18 to study food and wine. Attending Seville’s Culinary Institute “La Taberna del Alabardero", Madrid’s Escuela de Cata and getting her specialties in Sherry wines. She recently passed her WSET level 3 test and is anxiously awaiting to keep studying and learning. She quickly fell in love with Seville and has been pursuing her passion for its wine and food ever since. Laura is also very outgoing and loves to travel and chat with people from all over and is looking forward to share her love for the city and its amazing culture.
Gourmet Shop Curator
Ángela loves her birthplace Sevilla for its happiness, energy and distinct way of life that enamors anyone who visits. After finishing her studies in Advertising, PR and Marketing, Angela has worked in various areas, from the restaurant industry to the tourism industry to education, but always with people, something that she loves and suits her fabulous communication skills.
She loves to travel to new places and share experiences with people from other cultures. After living in Bordeaux, France, working in the Wine Museum, she really began to fall in love with wine and food. She is a positive and happy person, close to family and friends. She loves arts and crafts, and she likes to go to music festivals and cultural events. One of her favorite activities is going out for tapas with friends.
Gourmet Shop Curator
Paddy Woodworth first came to the Basque Country in 1975, and fell in love with its people, culture, history and landscapes. Today he is recognized as a leading international specialist on the region. His first book, Dirty War, Clean Hands: ETA, the GAL, and Spanish Democracy, (Yale University Press 2003) was described by Paul Preston as “one of the most important books about post-Franco Spain ever published”. The Basque Country: A Cultural History (Oxford University Press 2008) ranges from gastronomy to the Guggenheim museum, from folk dances to political violence. The Financial Times described it as “shrewd and affectionate…a splendid portrait of a bewitching land.” His most recent book, Our Once and Future Planet (University of Chicago Press, October 2013), on ecological restoration projects worldwide, has added an environmental dimension to his Basque tours.
He has covered Basque and Spanish affairs for The Irish Times since 1979, and has also written for the International Herald Tribune, Vanity Fair, The Sunday Times, and The World Policy Journal, and broadcast for RTE, the BBC, US and Spanish networks. He has lectured widely in the US (including Harvard, Dartmouth, Carleton, and Georgetown), Britain (LSE, Cambridge University, Canning House) and his native Ireland. Since 2008, he has worked as a specialist cultural guide for visitors to the Basque Country, in partnership with Jon Warren of San Sebastian Food, developing the Discovering the Basque Country tour series. He says there is no job he enjoys more, since “it gives me the opportunity to bring visitors into direct contact with Basque culture, and with places I have loved for many years. Each tour is a richly rewarding experience.”
Paul Arrillaga is a hometown boy made good. Born in San Sebastián, he studied cooking at a local school and began his journey through the most important kitchens of the city. He began at the classic spot Illarra, before heading to soak in some sun and Mediterranean cuisine in Mallorca, where he worked at S´atic.
Yearning to head back home, he joined the team at Mirador de Ulía, where he focused on avant-garde techniques at this michelin-starred establishment. His youth and endless curiosity took him then to A Fuego Negro, the temple of creativity, and from then on his cooking became an amazing fusion of local, seasonal products with all the elements from contemporary cuisine.
In 2011, he was hired to run the kitchen at the San Telmo Museum, where he developed a menu that got him recognized as one of the most promising talents in town.
He won first-place at the Basque Chefs Competition, an event that encourage him to take the plunge and open his own business, Zaspi Bar, which has become an important meeting point for local foodies just a few months since its opening.
Ismael originally hails from Toledo, Spain, but when he realized the food world was his calling, he packed up and moved to San Sebastián to study under one of the masters of Basque cuisine, Luis Irizar. Upon finishing his studies, he made his way through the area’s most outstanding restaurants, including Urepel, Alameda, and Juanito Kojua, where he learned the secrets of our classic gastronomy.
Eager to develop his skills, Ismael joined the teams at Branka and Narru, where he discovered a more sophisticated approach to local dishes.
Currently, he runs the kitchen at the Kata4 restaurant. In only a few months, he has managed to make this establishment among the most talked-about in town, and has designed a menu that features vegetables and rice, ingredients he consider his favorites.