News finally broke today of a long-rumored house-cleaning at Vast and The Colcord. Out goes John Williams and Associates Hospitality and in comes Oklahoma’s culinary Big Kahuna, chef Kurt “Flash” Fleischfresser and hotelier Paul Coury.
There is no truth to the rumor Fleischfresser took on the challenge in a fit of high-rise envy sparked by former apprentice Josh Valentine’s taking the stove at The George, high atop Founders Tower.
“I’m already taller than Josh,” Fleischfresser said.
In case you’re wondering, the move doesn’t end Fleischfresser’s partnership with Carl Milam’s Western Concepts, which includes the iconic Coach House, Sushi Neko, Lobby Cafe, and Musashi’s. He also maintains an interest in Irma’s Burger Shack.
Fleischfresser said he’s looking forward to working with executive chef Patrick Williams, who has been at Vast since it opened in Fall of 2012. Williams cut his culinary chops at The American Restaurant, a James Beard Award-winning concept in Kansas City. Fleischfresser said the challenge in front of him is every bit as tall as the Devon Tower, but he’s looking forward to it. That said, he warned diners changes will take time.
“Please let everyone know that it’s going to take a little time to get where we want,” Fleischfresser said.
He said no immediate changes are planned for Flint but the catering operation above Vast will be under great scrutiny. What the dining public is less likely to know is how a restaurant can be held back by its infrastructure and internal design as easily as its menu. I know there will also be some new personnel for Williams in the kitchen. If history has taught us anything, it’s that Fleischfresser’s vaunted Apprenticeship Program has done anything, it has supplied him with able talent at new concepts dating all the way back to Chad Willis at the original Iguana Lounge and Robert Black as the executive chef at The Museum Cafe when Flash partnered with Chris Lower to launch that concept.
Coury is no stranger to Fleischfresser’s chef-making machine as he employs TCHAP alum Leonard Novak at The Ambassador Hotel’s Viceroy Grille.
Best of luck to outgoing corporate chef Andrew Black and Williams, who are both genuinely nice gents. Whether Fleischfresser is able to conjure his magic 40-plus stories in the sky, those two will always be its founders. Best of luck to all involved.