Bulla Gastrobar Winter Park is one of the most highly popular restaurants in the area. At Bulla (pronounced boo-ya) Gastrobar, a Spanish tapas-style restaurant, located here in Winter Park, Chef Mariano Vogel aims to transport us back to his childhood. Growing up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Chef Vegel was surrounded by cooking and food: his mom is a pastry chef, his dad loves to cook, his grandmother, who was born on the boat from Spain to Argentina, would cook Spanish meals that she learned from her mother and add a bit of Argentinian flavor, and he would also help his grandfather make pizza. His family would get together and sit and eat and talk for hours, which is just what Bulla would like its guests to do. In fact, the name of the restaurant, Bulla, means something along the lines of “chatter” in Spanish.
What Makes Bulla Gastrobar Winter Park so Distinctive
Originally, Chef Vegel had enrolled in law school upon completing his secondary education. However, he quickly found himself quite bored and realized that law was not for him. During this time, his sister was going to culinary school and would practice her skills at home. Soon enough, Chef Vegel found himself influenced by his family’s love of food and decided to study at the Instituto Argentino de Gastronomia in Buenos Aires. He graduated from there in 2006 and began his career at a Marriott hotel in his hometown.
Eventually Chef Vegel worked his way up through the Marriott brand and here to Florida, where he eventually became the Chef de Cuisine at Primo, one of the JW Marriott’s signature restaurants in Orlando. From Primo, he moved to the Rusty Spoon, before making his way and his heart into Bulla, a young chain that began in Coral Gables, and currently has seven locations throughout the southeastern US, with more coming soon.
If ever a chef has found his true restaurant, Chef Vegel has found Bulla. At Bulla, he can really express his passion. “Food should take you places,” says Chef Vegel, “either going back to your childhood or forward into the future.” He does this by taking the experiences that he had as a kid and mixing it with the current trends. You can really see that in the restaurant’s signature items that they will be unveiling for the spring where five out of the six dishes will be of Chef Vegel’s creation.
A Taste For Quality
Chef Vegel draws his inspiration as a chef from talking with people about food. When he gets together with his family, food is often one of the main subjects. In fact, one of his main tenants as a leader in the kitchen is to “always be thinking and talking about food.” Another of his values in the kitchen is “no waste.” No waste of time (always keep moving, doing something). No waste of food!
As a leader, Chef Vegel is hands-on, just like Chef Diego Solano, Bulla’s Executive Chef – originally from Costa Rica, who often visits the Winter Park location several times a month. Chefs Vegel and Solano have a great working and collaborating relationship. Chef Vegel says the visits with Chef Solano are like having “a Bulla training manual in a live person,” as Chef Solano provides a great feedback session and doesn’t mind throwing on an apron and helping out. When thinking about the food at Bulla, Chef Vegel loves working with the seasonal menus as he believes that using only the freshest, in-season ingredients makes the best food.
“The earth tells you the best time to eat different foods,” he says.
He loves combining ingredients that have contrast, especially vinegar, tomatoes, and citrus zest. His favorite dish to make at Bulla is Huevos Bulla, made with homemade chips, potato foam, fried eggs, Serrano ham, and truffle oil. He also loves making and braiding the croquettes, which require a lot of care and attention. At home, Chef Vegel, enjoys rolling and cutting handmade pasta which he serves with tomato sauces, olives, anchovies, and capers.If you are looking for a few quick creative ideas that is.
As a relatively young chef in a field that is often dominated by age, Chef Vegel is always trying to learn. He still finds the industry so exciting, which inspires and promotes creativity every day. Vegel feels that his position as Chef Partner at Bulla is a great reason for pride. He hopes to use his position to help install Bulla in as a fixture in the culinary landscape of Orlando, which, in fifty years, he predicts will rival places like New York and Miami in the culinary world.
This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Park Ave Magazine. Titled “Food Should Take You Places” by Krysta Knauer © Copyright 2019 – Park Ave Magazine. To read past issues of Park Ave Magazine, go to the “Editions” tab on the main menu of our homepage. To order past issues of Park Ave Magazine, please call (407)951-5341.