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New farm-to-fork concept opens in Norman

LOCAL opens in Norman with much fanfare, offering local ingredients in an imaginative menu suitable for all ages.
by Dave Cathey Published: March 21, 2012

— Tucked in the corner of a timeworn strip mall is perhaps the most ambitious restaurant concept the state has ever produced.

Three sisters and a veteran local chef have combined to create a farm-to-fork concept aimed at changing how Oklahomans view food in a way the whole family can enjoy.

The sisters are Heather Steele, Melissa Scaramucci and Abby Clark. The chef is Ryan Parrott. The restaurant is called LOCAL, at 2262 W Main St. in the Normandy Creek Shopping Center.

The 10,000-square-foot space was home to Furr's Cafeteria for years, but no one would guess it without prior knowledge. After a short walk through a covered patio, visitors enter the lobby with its swank check-in desk. A few paces down a curved corridor is a market and gift shop to the right and Localville's entrance on the left.

Localville is an on-site child care operation with playhouses, screening room and space for infants to catch a little peace and quiet.

The idea began with Melissa, who along with her husband, Todd, visited a hotel restaurant that included a children's club.

“We thought, ‘Why can't we have one of these in Oklahoma?'” she said.

When that conversation developed into a full-fledged idea, Melissa reached out first to family. Sister Abby was a third-grade teacher, and Heather has a retail management background. The sisters then reached out to longtime friend Robert Painter, Parrott's partner at the Iguana Mexican Grill, as a consultant on the project. Painter sought the help of Parrott, who decided the concept was too good to give up to another chef.

“I was helping them find a chef and decided I didn't want another chef to have the kitchen,” Parrott said.

Just beyond the market and Localville junction is a bar, featuring local beer and draft wine, that is the last stop before entering the expansive dining room.

LOCAL has seating for about 200. Overlooking the dining room is the open kitchen where Parrott, who developed one of the city's top reputations with his Table One chef's table concept and in the Deep Fork Group kitchens, oversees ingredients that are nearly 100 percent local.

“The seafood obviously isn't local,” Parrott said. “But DeLancey Miller is our fishmonger, and I have the utmost respect for his methods.”

Miller's DeLancey Street Seafood sells only fish that are in season and works with fishermen who use sustainable techniques.

“Citrus fruit and a few other fruit aren't local,” Parrott said. “But everything else is.”

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by Dave Cathey
Food Editor
The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene.
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