Pop-ups, like food trucks, are often a relatively low-risk way for a chef to test out a restaurant idea. That’s certainly true for chef Aaron Tekulve and his monthly pop-ups called Surrell.
Tekulve, who was raised in Montana, has a long restaurant resume, including impressive local stints as a sous chef at Lark, on the opening team at Salare, and as a station chef at Canlis. He’s also spent time at Michelin-starred Coi in San Francisco and competed on Food Network’s Chopped.
Since May, Tekulve has held Surrell dinners, which he says are teasers for an eventual restaurant of the same name. Each month, Tekulve partners with a winery for a six- to eight-course menu with wine pairings for groups of just 18 diners. The gatherings typically take place at Whisk in Bellevue. Tekulve says he concentrates on local, seasonal ingredients and his modern American dishes pull in influences like Italian, French, Spanish, and Asian. In addition to the pop-ups, he also offers private dining and catering services.
Tekulve has partnered with an event company for around 50 pop-ups all over Seattle; his next dinners are planned for February 7th and March 13th. If you’d like to get a taste of what’s to come and support Tekulve in his quest, look for additional events to be announced with sample menus on the Surrell website and Facebook page.
“Our goal is to offer a different dining experience in Seattle that is an exploration of Pacific Northwest ingredients through an eight- to ten-course tasting menu that will change completely every month to be as seasonal as possible,” Tekulve says. “These dinners will be paired with wines and on many occasions the winemaker will be present as well to tell stories of their craft.”
Tekulve is on the hunt for a brick-and-mortar space for Surrell in Queen Anne, with the goal of opening in late winter or early spring of 2018. He plans to offer a la carte options as well as a multi-course tasting menu at the restaurant, and says he anticipates having 30 seats with a bar that would seat around 12. He’s currently raising money through private investors.
“Our mission is to tell a story through Pacific Northwest ingredients, and a tasting menu can do such a great job as well as demonstrate a variety of techniques,” Surrell says. “Since I will be a new chef in Seattle to many people, I want to offer an al la carte menu so they can get to know me before investing both the time and money into a tasting menu. I think it is so important to build that trust with a diner and make sure they feel valued in their experience.”
Correction, 2/2/17: An earlier version of this story misstated Tekulve’s restaurant timeline.