Updated Tuesday, February 27, 2024-15:45

Pepe Solla (55) has a hard time erasing the smile from his face.

The Galician chef enjoys a good personal and professional moment.

We caught him visiting Madrid, at one of the

Brothers of the Sea

meetings organized by the El Señor Martín restaurant, one of the capital's fish temples.

"Madrid is difficult to keep up with, it is a true hotbed of gastronomy."

Too much news, perhaps, to digest.

"I don't know if it's good or not so good that everything is going so fast because

the projects have to be settled and sometimes they are not given the necessary time


The chef at Casa Solla (Poio, Pontevedra), a restaurant that has had a Michelin star since 1980, knows the capital well and, for the moment, is not considering returning.


There is currently no city in Spain that has the potential of Madrid

. There is an immense culture of eating and dining out, but it is a complicated place."

The present of him is linked to Galicia.

"I need to be close to my projects and when I had spaces in Madrid, they forced me to come a lot."

In the face of novelty, he values ​​temperance: "

Projects provide an evolution that is necessary

. When you make a dish you have to give it three or four days to achieve that balance and that consistency."

He manages changes at his own pace and without paying attention to what others are doing.

"There is a certain cruelty in that immediacy that we demand. We have to do new things, but with head."

Better conditions

He has lived and lives firsthand the transformation that has shaken the hospitality industry in recent years.

"The only thing the pandemic did was accelerate a process. What was going to happen in 10 years had to be synthesized in one."

And here he brings out his "critical-analytical" side: "

For years, restaurants made money from exploiting workers and that cannot be


He believes it, he has seen it and he cares little if his statements sting.

"Then we say that there are no people to work in restaurants; it's normal that there aren't any. If I don't offer good conditions, I can't expect anyone to want to be with me."

In the 30 years that he has been at Casa Solla, no worker has gone to another competing dining room: "In the end, you are dignifying the profession."

The day-to-day life with the Michelin star - it was the first dining room to achieve it in Galicia - is managed calmly and with clear ideas.

"We have had 44 editions with it. In the end you learn to manage the pressure. Your commitment has to be with you, with the team and the product and then whatever comes. The fundamental objective has to be that tomorrow your restaurant is much more rounded ".

In his opinion, it is not a failure not to get the star or a Repsol sun.


I feel more pressure not to disappoint a client than any other goal


That does not mean that I do not give importance to the recognition of the French guide.

"The nice thing would be to reach second or third, but not as a goal but as a reward for a job well done."

He is clear that

his professional life outside the red guide would be "somewhat different, but not worse

. "

What he is clear about is that the star "places you" on the gastronomic map.

The Galician chef, on the day of the interview.

In the family business

A bad student as a kid, "

he was a bit of a bullet

," the family business kitchen gave him everything, "more than I imagined."

"That people valued what she did was the best thing in the world."

He has brought a lot to the profession, but wanting to be good at what he does has also taken things away from him.

"You limit the leisure of your personal life, although now I have achieved a fairly good balance between work and my personal sphere."

His music group, surfing, windsurfing and mountain biking are on his list of hobbies.

If he had to play music in his kitchen, he would go for hard, "guitar" rock, with Pearl Jam as a reference, although he listens to "very diverse" styles. "The next concert I'm going to is the Nothing But Thieves concert in Prague," he says. excited, "it's a gift from Bego [Rodrigo, chef at La Salita].

To know more

Begoña Rodrigo (La Salita).

"To go to gastronomic conferences I have paid everything, something that my male colleagues have not done"

  • Editor: AMAYA GARCÍA Valencia

"To go to gastronomic conferences I have paid everything, something that my male colleagues have not done"

Rafa Zafra.

The 'near luxury' chef who prohibits shouting in the kitchen

  • Editor: AMAYA GARCÍA

The 'near luxury' chef who prohibits shouting in the kitchen

The essence of your 'home'

There is a definition that someone made of Casa Solla that he especially likes: "It is the place where the truth finds its home", with a cuisine oriented towards the product: "

Our strength comes from our suppliers

: fishermen, farmers or cheesemakers."

The technique covers, is appreciated and is refined day by day, but always thinking that "the raw material shines."

Can't stand mess in the kitchen.

"I am very methodical at work."

Before you do anything, you have everything you need at hand.

"I think before I do."

He has a good time with impertinent clients.

"He who is dedicated is easy," he says sarcastically.


The one that motivates you is the one that gets you twisted

and you have to redirect him so he can enjoy your house."

Clear and concise when speaking, he has never hidden what he did not think was good about his guild.

Before he mentioned the issue of salaries, but there are other aspects with which he does not agree too much.


There is a part of posturing that I don't like in gastronomy

. Sometimes discourses are created around a restaurant and it is not necessary. In a restaurant you are going to eat well, delicious and be happy."

The ego got the hang of it a long time ago.


I love making the people on my team grow

and giving them visibility."

He admits that sometimes he deals with too much workload.

"It's hard for me to say no" and that causes some weeks with more flights than days.

"I'm not lazy at all."

"Honesty and simplicity" lead the way in and out of the kitchen.

Habitual at gastronomic conferences for years, lately he has been attending in dribs and drabs.

"I think we all have to take responsibility. They are losing interest in the public because she has stopped cooking in them. She has focused on other things."

Cook and organizers are "co-responsible": "

The business is prioritized more than the real story


He has been in the trade for more than 30 years and does not forget to learn something new every day.

"I cook better and better because I master more things; I have more temperance, fewer fears."

It's time to get in the kitchen.

"The turbot we have on the menu is brutal," he says excitedly.

He delights diners with crab with pickled almond cream, squid with green sea mojo and rice with cocochas, among other dishes.


I don't want to shock; I'll settle for everything being delicious

," he says with the same smile with which he started this conversation.