Cooking Class with Bulla Gastrobar’s Executive Chef, John Sumner
One of the fun parts of blogging is having the opportunity to try out different restaurants - especially when they are outside the normal fare one is used to eating. I was recently invited to experience Bulla Gastrobar, “A fun, casual gathering place inspired by the most popular tapas restaurants in Spain.”
My experience was so incredible for me. I don’t recall ever tasting flavors that were so distinct within their own element yet married together with other flavors to create a unique taste unlike any other. The flavors enhanced dishes from a broad spectrum ranging from simple roasted potatoes to the rather complex flavors of oysters.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to Chef John’s cooking class the following evening held at the Central Market in Plano, Texas. Chef John takes pride in using local produce and ingredients whenever possible - he is a big supporter to the Farm to Table concept which is a refreshing trend.
A wonderful experience filled with great food, new friends, and creative cooking lessons. Here are some highlights of my two session experience followed by a delicious recipe we learned the night of the class - so easy to whip up, looks amazing in presentation and delectable in taste!
I’m a stickler for the vibe and atmosphere of such events. From the onset, I noticed how “at home” Chef John made everyone at the table feel as he presented us with one of his delicious dishes. His personality reflects his passion and each dish indicative of his zest for his craft. He spoke to the class as if he were speaking to a close group of friends over for a casual meal.
When I think of Spanish food, the first dish that usually comes to mind is Paella. You may have come across this many times and not recognized the it by name. Paella is a rice dish that has robust flavors including Saffron which has a subtle taste yet a fragrant spice giving off a crimson color and enhancing the flavor of the dish. Chef John led us to the outside patio where he demonstrated how to make paella in a unique dish large enough to feed 100 people! It was such an amazing experience watching him put the plate together and providing tips on how best to prepare it. Needless to say, the dish was so large, it took 4 people to carry it inside!
Back indoors, we were taught how to make Pan con Tomate - a toasted, crispy ethereal bread brushed with fresh tomato. Folks, when Chef John cooks one of his creations, there are no cans nor any “freshly frozen” ingredients involved - lol. He used fresh beefsteak tomatoes and hand grated each piece. You could smell the aroma of the fresh tomatoes around the classroom within a few moments!
My favorite part of the class was watching Chef John create the Gambas al Ajillo - sauteed shrimp, garlic and guindilla. He presented this dish alongside freshly grilled baguette slices – I’m a sucker for bread. Delicious!
Of course, by the time we devoured the shrimp, the Paella was ready to serve, and friends, it did not disappoint! The rice melted in your mouth while the flavors of the calamari, shrimp and clams created a melody of delicious flavors together.
To top off a perfect evening of good food and learning, Chef John presented us with his Flan de Coco. Now, mind you, I am not one to ever eat flan - I just don’t like the taste/texture. This one… I could not stop eating it - I kept telling myself I would take one more bite and then I’d leave it, but I couldn’t stop. Not kidding.
I love food - ask anyone who knows me. I love cooking and I love eating good food. I am fortunate enough to eat at many fantastic restaurants, but my experience with Chef John’s Spanish inspired dishes has raised the bar for my taste buds.
Becasue I would love my readers to experience some of the delicious flavors of Spain, Chef John was kind enough to provide the recipe for my fave, Gambas al Ajillo. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Hugs! Mama K
Recipe: Gambas al Ajillo
Fresh, Sliced Garlic
Red Pepper Flakes
Fresh, Chopped Parsley
Baguette Bread, sliced
Over high heat, add garlic oil and garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add shrimp, salt and red pepper flakes. Season shrimp with kosher salt and cook until shrimp is cooked through without overcooking.
Deglaze the pan with the brandy and cook the alcohol off. Add the chopped parsley and sauté making sure all the shrimp are coated. Cook the remaining pan liquid so it emulsifies and pour over the shrimp with the rest of the ingredients. Meanwhile, cook bread on the grill until grill marks are formed.
Plate shrimp with grilled bread and serve.
If you don't feel like trying this recipe at home, I encourage you to visit one of the Bulla Gastrobar locations - you won't be disappointed. If you do feel inspired and make this recipe, I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did! Let me know what you think below! Hugs!