SOLAZ Mexican Food has been a mainstay of the Ithaca culinary scene and Farmers Market community for over 25 years. Owned and operated by Kristof Ostlund, SOLAZ's food stands out with its exceptional flavors, fresh salsas and the healthy dose of attitude (...usually a good one) served on the side.
As the booth's popularity - and the line in front of it - grew, Kristof opened a local restaurant, Coyote Loco. No matter how busy the restaurant became, he refused to give up selling his burritos, tamales and salsa at the Farmers Market. The restaurant closed in 2003, but much to Ithaca's relief, the booth remained open and was renamed SOLAZ.
Kristof was raised in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern California. He first learned to cook burritos as a forest fire fighter in the 1970's, and after receiving his degree in Civil Engineering from Chico State University promptly declared that he "was hungry," driving him to switch careers and become a chef.
He trained under the widely respected (and much loved by Kris) French chef Madeleine Kamman, and worked for several years in Napa Valley as a chef for local wineries such as Inglenook Winery and Green and Red Vineyards. During his time in Napa, he also started a pig roasting business, and worked as Francis Ford Coppola's private cook.
Kristof and his family moved to Ithaca, New York in 1988. He soon started selling burritos and salsa at his first booth at the Ithaca Farmers Market in 1989. It was a smaller operation in the early days, with the ingredients packed tightly into the back of his blue Toyota pickup truck and the (then uncovered) booth protected by a tarp during colder weather. His daughters were often in tow, making change and pouring cups of Agua Fresca until they were old enough to start cooking.
Over the years, Kristof has worked as an ice cream distributor, sorority house chef and (currently) as a tax preparer for H&R Block during the market off season. His favorite job, however, is and always will be cooking food for his customers at the Ithaca Farmers Market.
Come by and say hello!
These days, the booth runs smoothly thanks to Kristof's indispensible "crew," a group of phenomenal young women without whom SOLAZ wouldn't be what it is today. Zephyr, his very loyal dog, is an honerary crew member who enthusiastically greets customers most weekends.