Shawnee Mission Faces: Benjamin Sol, chef at El Salvadoreño and familiar face at the Overland Park Farmers Market

Benjamin SolWith a rich heritage of black, white and Cherokee roots, Benjamin Sol has had a lifelong passion for teaching about other cultures. He does that through meeting others and cooking delicious food. He helped start El Salvadoreño in Overland Park. He cooks at the restaurant and remains a frequent face at the Overland Park Farmers Market, after taking some time off to figure out family stuff. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and has two daughters.

You know, sometimes you’ve gotta walk away from the fire to learn how to control it. Fire of life, you know, fire of family. You kind of have to commit yourself every day and better yourself every day. That way, if you are a leader, people will follow you. But if you teach somebody how to lead, then you gave him the best thing ever.

I never yell at somebody unless I care. I always look in someone’s eye and shake their hand. I never put nobody down. I always pick somebody up. And I think that’s the most wonderful thing to do when you’re a teacher, is never put anybody down because that’s not what teaching’s about.

My dad, he grew up in Italy and France there in the European theater. And so he taught me how to cook like rough scratch when I was a kid, and he’s actually a Shaman priest. He taught me everything you touch, you put love into. Everybody you talk to, you put love into.

He taught me just to inspire people. Everything you do and say, you kinda toss that rock in the water and it creates that wave, keeps spreading love and love.

I think I’ve inspired a lot of people. I’ve touched a lot of people that I really nonchalantly didn’t know I did. Since we came back to the farmers market, so many people have given me hugs and almost cried saying, I’m so happy to see you again. We’ve missed you. I thought you were lost and now you’re found. I said, I just, I’ve been hiding (laughs).

Every time I come here, I teach somebody about a culture. You’ve gotta just make people smile no matter what. If you teach somebody how to read or write or ride a bike, they don’t forget about that. And you know, if you could teach somebody how to smile and laugh, then you’ve taught them how to smile, laugh, forever.

My biggest accomplishment is my daughters. A long time ago, someone said I was never going to be able to have kids, and then my dad said give up and let God take it in his hands. And I did.

So like I said, sometimes you have to give up to control.