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Chef Luis Bollo cooks up creative Spanish comfort food

 

The Spanish know a thing or two about comfort food. Who doesn't love paella on a cold winter's day or gazpacho in the warmer months?

But one New York City chef is taking Spanish comfort food and adding his own creative twist.  

Chef Luis Bollo, a native of San Sebastian in the north of Spain, brought his expertise in regional Spanish cuisine to Salinas restaurant in 2011. 

The restaurant was named one of Esquire’s “Best New Restaurants” in 2011 and earned two stars from the New York Times with menu staples like Suckling Pig and Rossejat Rapida, which was named by Time Out Magazine as one of "New York’s Best 100 Dishes".

“My cuisine is a rustic cuisine that does have a different approach in terms of flavor profile, representation, the way that the food looks, the quality of ingredients and the way that we want to represent,” Bollo told FoxNews.com's Kitchen Superstars. “We want to be sophisticated and at the same time be different and unique.”

The menu includes not only traditional Spanish tapas, but also a wide selection of larger entrees and an entire section devoted to Spanish pastas. 

“We don’t want just to be another Spanish restaurant,” says Bollo. “We wish to be a part of Spain out of Spain.”

If the food doesn’t make you feel like you’re on the coast of Ibiza, the restaurant’s décor will. The walls are lined with photos taken by co-owners Donald and Mary Catherine Mikula during their many trips to Spain.

The back room of Salinas is especially unique – it boasts a fireplace to keep guests cozy in the cold months, and a retractable roof for the warm months so guests can enjoy a meal under the stars.

“This room is very special because in the summer, people definitely want to come because the roof itself is retractable so you can have dinner al fresco. And in winter, people want to come here because the fireplace,” Bollo says.

Though his family is not happy that he lives far away, Bollo says he’s become a true New Yorker and wouldn’t want to cook anywhere else.

“In New York you just find some of the most sophisticated clientele,” Bollo says. “The people understand about food, enjoy food, they know about food.“