David Solorzano – Executive Chef, Penca
Growing up between southern Arizona and central Mexico, Penca Executive Chef David Solorzano began his education on farm to table practices from an early age as he helped tend the family’s gardens. Wanderlust led him to the Alaskan coast where he crewed on halibut and salmon boats. Though spending most of his formative years literally elbow deep in the freshest of ingredients, it wasn’t until working at his uncle’s restaurant in his early 20’s he discovered his true passion for culinary arts.
After graduating from Scottsdale Culinary Institute and working in Phoenix-area fine dining restaurants including Vincent on Camelback and Ayako of Tokyo at the Arizona Biltmore, he made his way to Tucson, cooking alongside Chef Bruce Yim at Vin Tabla and Chef Chad Luethje at Miraval Resort and Spa before opening Animal Farm food truck, specializing in artfully prepared dishes using locally sourced ingredients and proving to be an important turning point for David.
Animal Farm allowed him to develop close personal relationships with a variety of local purveyors, a practice he would continue in 2013 when he transitioned to the culinary team at Hacienda del Sol. As Chef de Cuisine, David helped Executive Chef Yim develop and prepare a seasonally changing menu, as well as educating staff on an array of culinary techniques and ingredients.
More recently, a spur-of-the-moment trip to Guadalajara inspired a rediscovery of his roots in traditional Mexican cuisine. This formative trip led to several others around central Mexico, during which he strove to learn as much as possible about the region’s complex flavor profiles. Since many of these flavors aren’t commonly seen in the United States, Chef David once again turned to forming partnerships with local farmers, chefs, merchants and artisans, to better understand the depth of flavors present in Mexican cuisine.
Chef David hopes to push the development of Tucson’s culinary scene. His tremendous respect for lost and traditional cooking techniques, dishes and ingredients is the driving force behind his menus. By combining this focus with his long-time passion of sourcing quality, local ingredients, he hopes to showcase the true depth of what simple good food can be and inspire people to rediscover the beauty of cooking for themselves.