Surla’s Restaurant named to Rediscover Turkey Hall of Fame!
Passion is the official “secret sauce” at Surla’s Restaurant in Modesto. That passion comes in the form of fusing all types of cuisines into new dishes every day by Executive Chef and Owner John Surla.
John not only creates amazing food, but makes eating out a memorable experience. He also loves to come up with new turkey creations for his ever-evolving menu. Congrats to Surla’s Restaurant for its induction into the Rediscover Turkey Hall of Fame!
Tune into this video for a brief showcase on how John makes the magic happen. Or read the video transcript below.
Surla’s Restaurant video transcript
My name is John Surla, owner and proprietor of Surla’s Restaurant. Also the executive chef. I own Surla’s Restaurant located in Modesto California and opened Lola Bistro Express in Hilmar, California.
We originate from the Philippines and we used to have a little restaurant in front of my grandmother’s house. And that’s where the nine daughters learned how to cook. So I learned how to cook from my mother at a very young age of 5, 6, 7. And I told her I wanted to go to culinary school.
I’ve worked at about 12 different restaurants in the last 19 years. And for the past eight years I’ve owned my operation. And I love food. I love to eat and I love to spread the harmony of food and wine.
Here I can mix all 12 different restaurants on one menu at one restaurant. So we can have anywhere from a flatbread pizza to a fried calamari to a chow mein bowl to a rice bowl to a grilled New York steak. And people like the flexibility under the menu.
You know it’s really hard to make it in the fine dining restaurant world. So I’ve toned it down a little to the casual level. A little more inexpensive, a little bit faster service, and just a good great neighborhood feel.
Number one appetizer is Chef John’s Lumpia. A lumpia is a Filipino eggroll that’s been rolled with the little grilled chicken, shetaki mushrooms and pepper jack cheese. I roll it into a Louca egg roll wrapper and then deep fry them cut them in half and serve them with a sweet chili sauce.
You know everyone has their mission statements. Here we have taglines and on our t-shirts here at the restaurant, our first tagline was passion is our secret sauce because that’s what it is. It’s a combination of having a passion for the restaurant business. And that is our secret sauce which makes us successful.
Another one is never trust a skinny chef. I got that one from chef Sam Choi from Hawaii and he was a big man at one point. Now he’s a little bit skinnier but most of my chefs you know aren’t the skinniest guys in the world because I know they’re tasting all the dishes. And that consistency of getting the dish, making sure it’s right and taste right is a very important to me.
Over 55 percent of food produced for the United States comes from the Central Valley. So it just made sense. Well you know instead paying the high prices to get it shipped and going through four brokers before it ends up on your plate… why not just cut that all out and go directly to the source. So we have over 20 local farmers that we buy different things.
What we do is we do monthly winemaker dinners and we pair it with each dish with a glass of wine and we really feature the local farmer and what they are growing in that season. We have all these great resources and Foster Farms just happens to be right in the middle of it. I use the oven roasted turkey breast from Foster Farms and we slice it thin. And we serve them in various dishes such as a turkey wrap, our turkey melt whatever sandwiches we come up with… a turkey BLT.
So we rotate specials throughout the week with seasonal ingredients inside just to make it fun for the customer.
But everyone loves turkey bacon and avocados.