Pepe Solla

October 3, 2018

The father of contemporary Galician cooking

Today, it looks like Pepe Solla is enjoying a sweet moment in his career that has consolidated him as a role model for various generations of Galician cooks for whom he is a benchmark. Perhaps this moment stems from the coming together of circumstances that this cook has been able to forge along his road: intelligence when it comes to taking on the family legacy of Casa Solla, now 60 years old, and guiding it into the future in a streamlined way; intuition to understand when it was the right time to create something new, like the Grupo Nove, which has put contemporary Galician cuisine firmly on the map; and generosity towards young cooks. But, above all, delving into a personal language from which he has been stripping everything unnecessary over the past decades. Solla’s cooking – set within a framework of recognisably contemporary Galician cuisine – has, for some time now, taken on its own ways and defends a particular imaginary. His support for growers, a nod to artisans, and a growing radicalism when it comes to handling produce have led him to redefine a cuisine that was appealing to begin with. At the same time, he has been able to broaden Galicia’s gastronomic imaginary, opening it up to influences and techniques in a way that are far from radical. Galician emigrants, the estuaries as receivers of goods, and travellers from all over the world vouch for this frank look at this local gastronomic repertoire – that has not lost any of its roots – and internalises this broader gaze as its own. It is here, in this balance that is so hard to find, where the pantry of the estuaries finds – hand in hand with this cook – new ways to express itself. And it is here, in this calm rewriting of Galicia’s gastronomic language – where Solla’s cooking can be found today – that you find one of those rare cases of a cook who is seen both as traditional and as a spearhead into time, revealing not only his true power but, and above all, his future potential. Jorge Guitián