Galician emigrant Rufino López receives 2013 Spanish-American International Award

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Emigrant Rufino Lopez, born in Cedeira, Galicia, Spain in 1955, was awarded on Wednesday with the 2013 Spanish-American International Award by the Spanish Benevolent Society of New York.

Graduated in literature by the Lehman College of CUNY in 1976, Rufino Lopez has preserved his admiration to the great figures of Spanish literary and philosophical tradition, as Unamuno and Ortega y Gasset, or Cervantes, while shaping the Solera Restaurant, located in the city of New York for more than twenty years, near the United Nations Headquarters. Rufino is the only son of Galician Francisco Lopez, who emigrated to New York City as a construction worker in 1971.

While studying, Rufino Lopez worked in Italian and French restaurants, finding no Spanish restaurants that could represent the high value of Spanish cuisine in the Big Apple. In 1987 he founded his first restaurant, called Alcalá, in the Upper West Side in Manhattan, and in 1991 founded Solera Restaurant. Since its opening, in the days when the paella was made ​​in Manhattan in a pot with a lid instead of the regional authentic way as made in Valencia, with a pan, the Executive Chef of Solera Restaurant at that time, Dominick Cerrone, began incorporating Spanish regional dishes prepared with fidelity to its Spanish origin, one of the marks of the restaurant.

The history of the Spanish-American International Award began in 2012, when the writer and filmmaker Artur Balder was awarded. Artur Balder, now a US citizen, directed the documentary Little Spain, which displayed the historical memory of the Spanish district of Manhattan. According to the website of the organization, the award was created with the mission to promote the image of Spanish emigration in the United States, and is given to promote the work of those who are contributing to the consolidation of the Spanish-American identity in the United States. The Spanish-American International Prize was created to support emigrants who have made an outstanding contribution to the Spanish-American identity and the American heritage.