The creator of one of the central San Joaquin Valley’s most recognizable food products has passed away.
Raymond Ylarregui, founder of the Basque Company in Madera, died Dec. 5. He was 87.
Born in Ichaso, Spain, Mr. Ylarregui immigrated to the United States in 1954 to work in the family’s sheep business in Madera. He went on to start a hay hauling business with two other Basque immigrants and also spent some time working at a dairy and managing a sheep ranch in Caruthers.
In 1980, Mr. Ylarregui launched the Basque Company making simple yet flavorful marinade with a blend of spices and Burgundy wine. It became a Valley favorite and used often as a meat tenderizer on lamb, steak and chicken.
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Its distinctive bottle and label shows a shepherd drinking from a bota bag. The company also makes a fish sauce.
Mr. Ylarregui sold the company in 2015 and it continues to operate.
Born: Feb. 23, 1930
Died: Dec. 5, 2017
Occupation: Farmer/food company owner
Survivors: sister Rosalia, son Michael and daughter-in-law Tiffany, and companion Rebecca Lindholm
Funeral service: Tuesday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m. at Shrine of St. Therese, 1410 N. Wishon Ave., Fresno