Chef / Partner Luis A. Bollo
Chef Luis Bollo has garnered much acclaim for his creative Modern Spanish cooking at Salinas. Born in San Sebastian, Spain, Bollo grew up immersed in Basque culinary traditions and the city’s rich restaurant culture, which yielded one of the highest concentrations of Michelin stars per capita in the world. With the end of the Franco dictatorship, Basque culture experienced a resurgence in the 1980s, led by its Michelin star chefs who began to appear on national television for the first time.
One of Bollo’s fondest memories growing up is of helping his grandfather buy ingredients from local farmers to cook at a “sociedad gastronómica,” San Sebastian’s gastronomic members clubs, where men gather to cook and share a meal together while talking about politics and football. Bollo took inspiration from this culinary culture and enrolled in the San Sebastian Culinary School, a rigorous five year program that divided coursework between savory and pastry in equal measure.
After graduation, Bollo honed his skills at several Michelin starred restaurants in the Basque Country, Catalonia and Mallorca. His career started in the kitchens of seminal Basque chef Luis Irizar at Irizar de Madrid (1 Michelin Star) and the late Jean-Luc Figueras at El Dorado Petit (1 Michelin star) in Barcelona. Feeling the draw of his native Basque country, he worked the line at renowned Rekondo before joining Hilario Arbelaitz at Zuberoa Arbelaitz (2 Michelin stars). He then took a position at San Sebastian’s legendary Martin Berasategui (3 Michelin stars), where he worked every station. After a year there, Bollo became chef de cuisine at the Gran Hotel Son Net, a Relais Chateaux property on Mallorca, with Chef Thierry Bufeteau from Tour d’Argent in Paris. He followed this with a stint at Koldo Royo, a one Michelin star holder also on the island.
In 1999, he moved to New York City to open a contemporary Spanish restaurant, Meigas, where he received many accolades for his innovative cuisine. Gourmet magazine’s restaurant critic Jonathan Gold exalted his talent, saying “Bollo may do for new Spanish Cooking in America what Vongerichten and Boulud have done for modern French cuisine in this country.” The New York Times also recognized his work by awarding Meigas two stars, and many other publications, including Food & Wine, New York Magazine, New York Post, New York Observer and USA Today, named the restaurant as one of the best new restaurants in New York City.
Meigas relocated to Norwalk, Connecticut in 2001, where Bollo continued forging his own path interpreting traditional recipes with modern techniques for American diners. With the opening of Ibiza, in New Haven in 2003, Bollo was named Chef of the Year by Esquire magazine. Wine Spectator hailed both as the best Spanish restaurants in the US. Under Bollo’s direction, Ibiza received 28 points in the 2007 Zagat Survey for Connecticut, the second highest rating in the state. Both Meigas and Ibiza also received “Excellent” ratings from The New York Times.
In June 2011, Bollo returned to New York to open Salinas, a sophisticated yet welcoming restaurant that offers a modern take on Spanish cuisine with influences from the Mediterranean coast and Balearic Islands, as well as his native Basque Country.
In order to breathe new life into the existing contemporary Spanish restaurant scene in New York City, Chef Bollo has tapped into the unexplored terrain of contemporary Spanish rice and pasta dishes that go beyond paella. He uses the paella as a technique and genre rather than a traditional dish, highlighting the texture of rice and fideos pasta more than the accompanying ingredients.
Salinas holds two stars from The New York Times and was named one of Esquire’s Best New Restaurants of 2011. It was also included in Time Out New York’s Best of 2011 list and lauded for the city’s “Best Suckling Pig” in New York Magazine’s Best of 2012 issue.