The success of Oklahoma chefs on national television in 2012 might be a better indicator of the end of the world than the end of the Mayan calendar.
Earlier this month, chef Josh Valentine became Oklahoma's first “Top Chef” contestant, but last week chef Tabb Singleton, a native of Idabel who now works in New Orleans, became our first to go on Food Network's “Chopped.”
We'll have to wait until winter to find out how Josh does in Seattle, but Tabb left New York City, where the show is filmed, with $10,000 after winning his episode of the Food Network favorite.
Singleton, 34, is currently executive sous chef at Emeril Lagasse's NOLA Restaurant in the Crescent City.
Singleton was born and raised in Idabel, graduating as a Warrior in 1997. Tabb made his culinary reputation working at Abendigo's in nearby Hochatown before leaving to join chef Robert Merrifield's staff at The Polo Grill in Tulsa.
“I had applied with Emeril's Restaurant at the same time, but I felt like the opportunity at Polo Grill was better at the time,” Singleton said. “I learned a lot under chef Merrifield. It gave me the confidence to go to New Orleans.”
Singleton said after a one-week stage in 2007 at NOLA, he was offered a job at any of Emeril's restaurants and chose NOLA.
Landing the gig allowed Tabb to cross off one of three of his top three career goals.
“It's always been my goal to work for Emeril, appear on Food Network and open my own restaurant,” Tabb said.
The way to crossing the second of those goals off his list started with a conversation with NOLA Restaurant chef de cuisine Josh Laskay.
“Chef Laskay was contacted about ‘Chopped' casting call in New Orleans, and he and I discussed doing it,” Tabb said. “I told him if I was gonna do it, he had to do it, too.”
A month after doing a phone interview with “Chopped” producers, Tabb was one of 40 to go on camera for the casting call, which included a 45-minute interview that included many of the same questions from his previous interview.
When Tabb asked how his audition went, he didn't get an answer to boost his confidence.