Tapas, ribeye steak and puff pastry cake: Jon Rahm injects Basque flair into Masters champions menu

Jon Rahm will be taking fellow green jacket winners on a culinary trip to the Basque Country when he hosts his Masters Champions Dinner next month.

Tuesday saw the Spaniard give an extensive rundown of his carefully curated menu for the prestigious banquet at Augusta National’s clubhouse on April 9, an annual tradition – kickstarted by Ben Hogan in 1952 – staged on the eve of the major where the reigning victor decides what will be served to a table of previous champions.

Crafted with the help of Spanish chef and restaurateur José Andrés, Rahm’s menu is a love letter to the Basque territories in the north of his country. Born in Barrika, a town north of Bilbao in the region’s Biscay province, the world No. 3 is hoping his home flavors will win over his fellow winners.

“I wanted to put a little bit of my essence into it, and I’m hoping they really like it,” Rahm told reporters in a Tuesday press conference.

“It should be quite special, and they’re going to try a few things that they maybe haven’t seen before that are really quite tasty.”

Rahm has pedigree on his side. Spain boasted more of the world’s 50 best-ranked restaurants than any other country in 2023 with six. Half of those – No. 4, 22 and 31 – can be found in Basque Country, a region that punches well above its weight in culinary excellence.

Despite a population of just under 2.2 million people, according to the Basque Statistics Office, the region is home to 23 Michelin star restaurants, including four with three stars.

Rahm celebrates triumph at Augusta National last year. - Mike Segar/Reuters
Rahm celebrates triumph at Augusta National last year. - Mike Segar/Reuters

‘If somebody doesn’t like it, please just don’t tell me’

Teeing off proceedings are pintxos – the Basque’s answer to tapas. The small plates range from meats – Iberian ham (jamón), cured pork loin (lomo) and spicy Basque chorizo (chistorra) wrapped in potato – to a local Idiázabal cheese with black truffle, creamy chicken croquettes (croquetas) and a traditional Spanish potato omelette (tortilla).

Then there’s “Mama Rahm’s” lentil stew (lentejas) – a recipe passed over to Andrés by its original creator, Rahm’s grandmother.

“If somebody doesn’t like it, please just don’t tell me,” Rahm said. “Don’t tell anyone actually. It means a little bit too much to me to hear it.”

The main course sees a Basque crab salad served with one of two options; turbot fish (rodaballo) with white asparagus, or Basque ribeye steak (chuletón) accompanied by lettuce and piquillo peppers.

The latter, typically smoked and seared before being served to guests to cook to their preference, is Rahm’s favorite – just don’t sear your steak beyond medium rare when he or other Basque natives at the table.

“If you go past that, you’re going to get a weird look just because that’s how we are,” Rahm said. “Very proud people of what we do, and meat usually is high quality.

“Every time I go back home, I try to eat it.”

Dessert is a puff pastry cake known locally as milhojas, which translates to “1,000 leaves”, served up with custard and Chantilly cream.

Rounding up offerings are the wine pairings, a dry Basque white called Txakoli and CVNE Imperial – a bottle of which Rahm has displayed proudly in his home office – a red from Rioja.

The bottle in Rahm’s office was among his grandfather’s “prized possessions” and was when the winery released a special edition collaboration of the wine with his beloved Athletic Bilbao soccer team in 1994, the year Rahm was born.

The wine was his grandfather’s favorite and it’s “very high quality” Rahm insisted, and it will be called upon to help him navigate his dinner speech jitters.

“When I tell you that this has definitely been rent free in my head,” Rahm admitted.

“I usually have no issues public speaking – I’ll get up there and talk about anything. [But] Just the image of standing up and having everybody in that room look at me and having to speak to all these great champions, it’s quite daunting.

“I think I’m just going to speak from the heart, and that’s usually what delivers the better speech … I don’t know exactly what I’m going to say, but hopefully, one or two glasses of wine help me get a little bit more fluid.”

Scottie Scheffler, champion in 2022, helps Rahm into his new green jacket. - Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Scottie Scheffler, champion in 2022, helps Rahm into his new green jacket. - Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

‘I just want to see the best in the world compete against the best in the world’

Last year’s host Scottie Scheffler will be among those tuning in to Rahm’s toast – and enjoying his Iberian feast.

Having ushered in the tournament last year by serving up his Texas-inspired menu – featuring cheeseburger sliders, ribeye steak with mac & cheese, and chocolate chip skillet cookies – the American world No. 1 ended it by presenting Rahm with his green jacket.

Rahm had surged clear of Scheffler to win by five strokes ahead of Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson – both of whom are now the Spaniard’s fellow competitors in LIV Golf following his departure from the PGA Tour in December.

With the proposed reconciliation agreement between the warring tours yet to be finalized, Rahm’s switch to the Saudi-backed circuit meant he had to settle for a sofa view of Scheffler edging Wyndham Clark to clinch an unprecedented title defense at The Players Championship, the PGA Tour’s flagship event, on Sunday.

“What an accomplishment, to be the first ever back-to-back champion with pretty much every great golfer in the history of this game having played that tournament at that golf course,” Rahm said.

“It was fun to watch, and what a finish. Jesus Christ, that was one that was fun to watch. I feel for Wyndham [Clark] because to come back and play the last three holes the way he did and have that lip-out, it’s gut-wrenching to watch. But it made for great TV, and it was really fun.”

Rahm tees off at LIV Golf's latest event in Hong Kong earlier this month. - Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images
Rahm tees off at LIV Golf's latest event in Hong Kong earlier this month. - Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Rahm, who is chasing his first win after four tournaments on the Saudi-backed circuit, admitted The Players is one of several PGA Tour events he will miss competing at, but is optimistic that there is “room for all” in golf’s future after years of internal conflict.

“I just want to be able to see the best in the world compete against the best in the world, whatever that looks like,” Rahm said.

“I think there’s room for all of us, and there’s room for the game of golf to get to the next level and have more viewership options.

“I think I’ve said before, when it comes to football, for example, or soccer, you have the Premier League, you have the Spanish League, you have the Bundesliga, Serie A, you have the French league, and also on top of that you have the main two European events, right, the Champions League and the Europa Cup [League], and everybody watches all of those no matter what team they support.

“So I think there is a way of having golf deliver and be able to put out a different product that’s better for everybody, not me or for players but for spectators in general.”

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