Chef's Table Series: La Sombra

Chef Julio-Cesar Florez and General Manager Raul Escobar of La Sombra are offering diners a taste of South America on Tuesday, June 28 and Wednesday, June 29 during the TRIBEZA Chef’s Table Series. Diners will enjoy a four-course dinner on La Sombra’s spacious patio as they toast to the vibrant spirit of summer.

Born in Peru, Chef Florez worked in the banking industry before becoming a chef, but it was not too long before he realized his heart lay in the culinary world. “I soon realized there was something missing in my life,” he admits. “There was no passion or anything that connected me with where I come from.” After frying an egg at the age of five, Chef Florez has been cooking ever since and has worked in noted establishments around Austin, including Zoot, McCormick & Schmick’s, and Mirabelle. At La Sombra, Chef Florez has returned to his roots, combining modern and traditional aesthetics. “Thanks to cooking, I feel like I am part of something much bigger than just working in a kitchen. I am part of a worldwide culinary movement.”

La Sombra’s installment in the Chef’s Table promises to be a unique, interactive evening. “I will let the guests know why I love what I do, and I will be doing it in front of them,” says Chef Florez. “It will be just like cooking in their backyard: we will talk, eat, drink, and be merry. In addition, Chef Florez will be offering recipes for guests to take home and try themselves. “They will actually be taking a little piece of me with them,” he says. “”I hope that when they recreate the recipes at home, they can imagine themselves being a kid in Peru and what it is like to grow up in a Latin American country.”

Chef Florez shares his thoughts on the upcoming Chef’s Table Series at La Sombra.

Q: What was your inspiration behind the menu for Chef’s Table?
Every time I create a menu, I think back to my childhood growing up in Peru. Summertime is around the corner, so it reminded me of the amazing fruits and vegetables that become available during that season. Texas during the summer produces a bounty of high quality fruit and vegetables, so I wanted focus on that. Also, when I think of summer in Peru, I think of seafood, especially ceviche. Peru has the riches fishing grounds in the world, so seafood is just everywhere in Peru, and it is extremely fresh. I wanted to share that with the diners, as I will be breaking down very fresh fish and making ceviche in front of them, just like fishermen do back home.

Q: What drew you to the theme of summertime entertaining?
What does everyone think about when they think of summer? Relaxing out in the backyard, watching the children play with the garden hose, having some cocktails or some cold beers, and enjoying some good food with the people you love. If that doesn’t reflect summer, then I don’t know what does.

Q: Would you describe your approach to Latin American cuisine as more traditional or modern?
I don’t like to take sides between the two because they both have their own place. You can’t ignore the traditional approach because if you do then you lose the soul of the dish. But also you can’t ignore the modern approach because people come to dine not just because they are hungry, but because they want to be transported to another world. And as a creative individual I just can’t stay away from wanting to be inventive and playful.

La Sombra is located at 4800 Burnet Rd.

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