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Sean Cummings: Finding Flavors

A chef’s drive for culinary nuance



 

How does an Irish Catholic guy get his start in a Mediterranean kitchen? While it might sound like the set-up for a joke, Sean Cummings, who resurrected his eponymous Irish pub last year, got his first restaurant gig at Al-Roubaie Mediterranean Cuisine in his hometown of Kansas City.

“I was 14, working as a busboy,” he says. “One day, a cook didn’t show up, and the owner, Kassim Al-Roubaie, put me in the kitchen when I asked to fill in for the cook. I found out that I had natural talent – and that ADD works well in the kitchen.”

Most of Cummings’s training came from Al-Roubaie. The chef was a stickler for details, and didn’t like to repeat himself.

“He would tell you once how to do something, and you were expected to remember it,” Cummings says. “If you didn’t remember, the chef said he’d fire you. For the first time in my life, I paid attention.” The chef was also a stickler for freshness, so food was made from scratch daily. “The guy was a master,” Cummings says, “and his was the best restaurant in KC.”

 

“I found out that I had natural talent – and that ADD works well in the kitchen.”

Foods with complex flavors and complicated techniques are still his favorites to cook and eat, such as the eggplant Parmesan of his childhood. Things such as beef tenderloin are too simple, according to Cummings. “It’s always great and requires almost no talent to be wonderful. It’s boring.”

The natural talents Cummings bring to the kitchen include an uncanny ability to read a recipe and taste it in his mind – that means fewer mistakes and more flexibility. He follows the recipe the first time, and then alters it a bit each time after to get the result he prefers. Plus, good quality beef and chicken stock are integral to his cooking.

“One teaspoon of either solves lack of salt and creates a fuller mouthfeel,” he says. “A burger that is grilled on each side, and then put in beef stock with a touch of garlic and onion while waiting to be served, is probably the best burger you will ever eat.”

Cummings has also spent some time as a professional actor, but these days he prefers to be behind the camera. He does quite a bit of video work, and he and his wife Cathy Cummings – who owns and operates Italian bistro Vito’s Ristorante – are both very politically active. Refreshingly, he is well known around the city for trying to create respectful, informed dialogues between differing sides about political issues.

For his recipe, Cummings chose vegetarian lasagna, describing it as “light and airy” and one of his favorite things to cook at home. “At the end of the meal, I don’t feel like I need a nap.”

 

 

HOW IT’S MADE

VEGETARIAN LASAGNE

Cheese Filling
2 cups ricotta
1 cup parmesan
1/4 cup mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Mix all ingredients and leave in a cool place until ready to use.

Vegetables
NOTE: This step can be done the day before using, or grill and save these items in a freezer bag. 
1 red pepper (cut and seeded)
1 zucchini
1 squash
1 carrot
1 red onion
Chop roughly into smaller pieces and marinate in one cup of Wishbone Italian dressing. (Can be roasted in the oven, but will not be nearly as tasty.)

Tomatillo Sauce
2 poblano chilies
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 12-oz. can of tomatillos​
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 limes
Cilantro to taste

Roast chilies over a fire until charred, then put into a plastic bag and let cool.
Peel exterior of poblano and remove seeds. Chop and set aside.
Put EVOO into a sauce pan, add chopped onion and cook until the onion goes clear.
Add garlic until fragrant. 
Add whole can of tomatillos.
Add 1 cup of water and salt, bring to a boil and then toss in chopped poblanos.
Add juice of two limes.
Use the hand blender to puree all ingredients, and then toss in cilantro when all are well blended.
Boil lasagna noodles in water for 8-10 minutes.
Place noodles on a clean towel.
Spread ricotta cheese blend, add next layer of chopped vegetables and roll the lasagna noodle (lengthwise) with all of the ingredients on it. Add a touch of cheese to the end to get the noodle to seal.
Put noodles on the side so that layers are visible
Microwave until hot and carefully pour tomatillo sauce around the lasagna
Let cool and serve.

 

 

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Calendar

July 2019

A Texas State of Mind, featuring the art of Larry G. Lemons of Nocona, TX, is coming to the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK.  A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 - 6:30...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
www.onthechisholmtrail.com
Duncan, OK  73533
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Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
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Featuring more than 70 works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift of...

Cost: $15

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Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Telephone: 405.236.3100
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A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
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Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
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A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

A Texas State of Mind, featuring the art of Larry G. Lemons of Nocona, TX, is coming to the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK.  A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 - 6:30...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
www.onthechisholmtrail.com
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View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

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Cost: Free

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USAO Nesbitt Gallery
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Featuring more than 70 works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift of...

Cost: $15

Where:
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Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

A Texas State of Mind, featuring the art of Larry G. Lemons of Nocona, TX, is coming to the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK.  A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 - 6:30...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
www.onthechisholmtrail.com
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
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View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
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The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s Nesbitt Gallery will feature painter William Stoehr’s powerful portraits in “Victims, Witnesses, and Survivors.” The gallery...

Cost: Free

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USAO Nesbitt Gallery
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Telephone: 405.574.1374
Contact Name: Layne Thrift
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Featuring more than 70 works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift of...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
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Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

A Texas State of Mind, featuring the art of Larry G. Lemons of Nocona, TX, is coming to the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK.  A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 - 6:30...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
www.onthechisholmtrail.com
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s Nesbitt Gallery will feature painter William Stoehr’s powerful portraits in “Victims, Witnesses, and Survivors.” The gallery...

Cost: Free

Where:
USAO Nesbitt Gallery
1727 W. Alabama Ave.
Chickasha, OK  73018
View map »


Sponsor: Nesbitt Gallery
Telephone: 405.574.1374
Contact Name: Layne Thrift
Website »

More information

Show More...
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A Texas State of Mind, featuring the art of Larry G. Lemons of Nocona, TX, is coming to the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK.  A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 - 6:30...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
www.onthechisholmtrail.com
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
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View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

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Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
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View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s Nesbitt Gallery will feature painter William Stoehr’s powerful portraits in “Victims, Witnesses, and Survivors.” The gallery...

Cost: Free

Where:
USAO Nesbitt Gallery
1727 W. Alabama Ave.
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View map »


Sponsor: Nesbitt Gallery
Telephone: 405.574.1374
Contact Name: Layne Thrift
Website »

More information

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Featuring more than 70 works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift of...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
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View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

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Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

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Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
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www.onthechisholmtrail.com
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
USAO Nesbitt Gallery
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View map »


Sponsor: Nesbitt Gallery
Telephone: 405.574.1374
Contact Name: Layne Thrift
Website »

More information

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Cost: Adults $20; Seniors and Children $15

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Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
www.onthechisholmtrail.com
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View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

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Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

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Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
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View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

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Cost: Adult: $20 Seniors and Children: $15

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District & Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris Wheel, and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma...

Cost: Adults $20; Seniors and Children $15

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