Diego Gallegos is known as “the chef of caviar”. From the beginning of his project, he always was conscious about the environment and he focused on the recovery of the Andalusian sturgeon and using caviar on his dishes. But his research has progressed a lot more. Now, Diego farms his own fishes and vegetables to prepare the dishes of his restaurant “Sollo”, in Fuengirola, Spain.

 

He produces freshwater fishes such as catfish, piranha or eel, and at the same time, vegetables, thanks to the aquaponic system. He makes the most of the pool water to use it as natural fertilizer. Now, Sollo is “self-sustainable”, which means they generate their own ingredients to serve at his restaurant. So are we talking about the restaurant of the future?

 

Diego is Brazilian and also Peruvian through his mother’s side, he is currently living in Costa del Sol. In 2015, he won the Madrid Fusion Revelation Chef award, emerging on the gastronomic scene. After that, in the same year he won a Michelin star and his first Sun Repsol. Since then: Sollo is one of the best restaurants of Spain and Portugal.

 

On this occasion, we are fortunate to talk to him, just after the awards ceremony of the Repsol Guide. And he also told us about his tasting menu 2019 “Caminho” that sums up his work and his roots very well.

 

How do you fell with this new award?

I am very happy. It’s very important for us. It’s the result of the whole team’s work and effort.

 

You are developing the aquaponics in Sollo, which involves not only the farming of fishes but also vegetables. Tell us more about that, what vegetables are you farming?

They are different types of vegetables that we use for our tasting menu. We did a research to know which plant would adapt better  to the farming system of aquaponic.

 

How do you adjust the time of farming fishes and plants with the menu?

Our team of biologists is in charge of the whole process, from the nursery until we use it in the kitchen. On average, a fish takes three or four months until we can use it.

 

How does it change your perspective, the fact of farming fishes and plants by yourselves/on your own for your restaurant?

We guarantee to our customer that they are eating a healthy, fresh and 100% sustainable product.

 

We have seen that you work with tilapia or catfish, but maybe the most exotic is the piranha. How the customers feel about the experience of eating piranha?

It’s kind of weird, but It’s still a fish anyway. It’s delicious if you know how to cook it.

 

How different is to work with freshwater fish, unlike a marine one?

It’s basically the same but sometimes we need to enhance the flavor. The textures and cooking times are very similar.

 

How would you describe your restaurant? You commented there were a few tables, because you had the exact production for the day.

Yes, we have very limited production. Therefore, we reduce to a maximum of 28 customers in order to make the experience as complete as possible.

 

Sustainability and zero waste. We know that you make the most of freshwater fish, which even uses the spines as a support for crockery.

 

We practically make the most of everything, we must respect the product, since nature takes time to give us that food.

 

 “Caminho” is the menu that you offer in Sollo, we see that it is connected with your roots. Could you explain one that you consider more representative?

 

Everything is very important to me, they are memories and nuances that take me to my childhood. Every dish has a different personality to me. I don’t have a favorite one.

 

At the Makro seminar in Madrid Fusion 2019, you were just talking about Andean cuisine fermentations, although we have also seen in other opportunities that you make fermentations with Brazilian ingredients.

 

The fermentation does not cease to be cooking but over long periods of time, transforming the food and giving it personality. We take advantage of lifelong techniques adapting to the ingredients we want to use. It gives us a lot of possibilities when it comes to combine ingredients.

 

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