A former surfer who grew up in sunny California and Hawaii, Carol Wallack, chef and owner of sola, has quickly learned how Chicago winters or rainy summer squalls can dampen the spirit. Â She bucks up her patrons with tasty California- and Asian-accented cuisine that’s clean, balanced and, next to the butter-drenched fare clogging our city’s restaurants, relatively healthy. Â To her, cooking means caring for others by delivering the foods they want and need.
Q. What do you wish you could change or pickle and preserve about the Chicago restaurant/ food scene?
A. We have such a family [of chefs] here, a close knit restaurant community. Â One night we ran out of linens and someone lent us some. Â Likewise, people who run out of tuna know we get great tuna, and they might call us. Â We always help someone in a bind. Â It’s an honor to be part of something like this.
Q. What would your last meal be?
A. I don’t plan on being in jail or Death Row anytime soon, but it would be sushi. … No particular fish, I would eat them all. Â I also love seaweed.
Q. What Chicago chef would you most like to share a kitchen with?
A. I’ve actually shared a kitchen with him already at Deleece (4004 N. Southport), but I love Dale Levitski (currently on Bravo’s “Top Chef”). Â He’s an old friend with a great work ethic and a wicked personality. Â Also, Erick Simmons of mk (868 N. Franklin). Â He’s got a great sense of humor…
Q. What’s sola’s can’t-miss dish?
A. Our braised hoisin-flavored short ribs. Â I don’t really eat meat, and I love them.
Q. What should we know about sola that we probably don’t?
A. Our address is on Lincoln, but the front door is on Byron. Â Our sous chef, Aleksiy Shalev, is a very smart, creative young guy, who is definitely going places.
sola;Â 3868 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago (773) 327-3696