Food and music, perhaps the two most important gateways into any culture, are two of the things that Txikiteo co-manager Dan Ansotegui excels at; and he carries his passion with him wherever he goes. Now Dan has been recognized for that passion and excellence by the National Endowment for the Arts, who have named him an NEA National Heritage Fellow—the highest honor in the country for folk and traditional artists.

The award notes that Dan, “as master, mentor, and entrepreneur, is a bearer of Basque music, dance, and foodways traditions that contribute to the creative growth and sustainability of his cultural community.”

Dan has long been a mainstay of the Basque music scene. He is the familiar face behind the trikitixa (accordion) as part of many Basque bands—traditional and not—at festivals, as a teacher, and at parties and gatherings both public and private. The owner/manager of several landmark Boise restaurants—Bar Gernika, the Basque Market, and now catering manager at Txikiteo—he is considered Boise’s patron saint of Basque food. Any given weekend will find him preparing to feed a crowd, stirring up a vast, savory paella, hand crafting his own chorizos, or roasting a tender lamb on an open spit.  Dan is more than happy to bring his love and knowledge of Basque food, music and culture to any event.

Modern Chef Nate Whitley and Txikiteo catering manager Dan Ansotegui hold a lamb that was roasted on the spit over a counter in the Modern Hotel kitchen during Burning Lamb at Camp Modern during Treefort Music Festival

Although he has made a formal study of both music and food, Dan’s excellence comes from something other: a life steeped in the Basque heritage of his family and community. Unconsciously, naturally, the food, language, and music traditions of his culture were handed to him—and he has been a faithful standard-bearer. We couldn’t be prouder.

At last, formal recognition of something we always knew: Dan Ansotegui is a national treasure. Zorionak, Dan; we raise our glass to you. Txeers!

Bloody Mary toasting a full lamb that is roasting over a fire