Chef John’s passion for cooking start at the young age of 5 years old. The first dish my mom taught me was Fried Rice. Watching countless hours of Yan Can Cook and Julia Child was a big inspiration to be a Chef. My mothers family originates from the Philippines and are all very good cooks from San Vicente, Pampanga. My mother had 9 sisters who all taught grade school and worked in the family restaurant where they would serve delicious Filipino dishes like Chicken Mami, Lumpia, Pancit Palabok, and Dinaguan. As a child, coming from a large family we would hold parties every weekend and I my mother would put me to work preparing for the guests.
Chef Surla received his formal training at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California, under the direction of Chef Nader Sharkes, where he achieved his Culinary, Restaurant Management, and Baking/Patisserie Certificates which are all ACF certified. Also has attended Professional Development Classes at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, California to hone his skills in the kitchen. His culinary background includes such restaurants as Tourelle Restaurant/Lafayette, Skywalker Ranch/Nicasio, Servino Ristorante/Tiburon, Blackhawk Grilled/Danville, Robert Mondavi Winery/Disney’s California Adventure/Anahiem, and Galletto Ristorante/Modesto. Chef John has worked for renowned Chefs such as Stephen Silva/Melons Catering, Arnold Pulido/Va di Vie, and Rainer Schwarz/Roosevelt Hotel.
Chef John spends his time helping non-profit groups such as the Center for Human Services, Central West Ballet, Doctors Medical Foundation, Childrens Crisis Center, Central Catholics Bash, St. Theater, Sierra Vista Kids, and other local groups in Modesto. At 34, Chef John has finally reached his dream of owning his own restaurant and sharing the harmony for his love of food and wine. As a chef, I couldn’t ask for a better place to open Surla’s! Modesto is the area I’ve grown to know and love and I can’t emphasize enough how fortunate we are to have so much local produce available!