While made-for-cable cooking competitions continue to grow on the small screen, chef Kurt Fleischfresser has decided to lay down the gauntlet for Oklahoma's own top chef: Himself.
Starting just after 10 a.m. on July 21 at The Tasting Room, 4322 N Western Ave., chef Fleischfresser will serve 100 courses — that's 24 platings of an original dish every 10 minutes — over 14 hours to 200 guests in “Culinaire For A Cause.” Profits from the event will go to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma with memories reserved for 200 diners.
When I started covering food a few years ago, I was told by everyone I asked that Fleischfresser, who is chef/partner for Western Concepts Restaurants — which includes The Coach House, Musashi's Sushi Neko, The Tasting Room and Will's Lobby Bar — was the man to talk to about Oklahoma cuisine past, present and future. After meeting him, it quickly became apparent this guy was Oklahoma's culinary Big Kahuna, so I started calling him that.
What does one have to do for Kahunadom? Spend three decades as a chef, culinary instructor at home and abroad while doing local cooking shows, founding more than 25 successful restaurant concepts and running an accredited culinary apprenticeship program. And when you're done with all that, throw down the gauntlet for yourself with one of the most ambitious culinary feats anyone has ever attempted.
“We're doing a true 100-course service,” Fleischfresser said. “That means 100 dishes, all created for this event. I can't remember ever hearing of anything like this being attempted anywhere.”
That's right folks, a chef here in little ol' Oklahoma will take on a challenge bound to catch the attention of the culinary world from New York to Los Angeles plus Chicago, Dallas, New Orleans and Las Vegas in between.
And if there's anyone who's earned the attention of the gastronomic elite, it's the Big Kahuna. But he won't be setting the bar for continuous service by himself.
Fleischfresser has enlisted the help of local chefs to pull off the mouthwatering marathon, including David Henry, Matt Johnson, Christine Dowd, Alain Buthion, Voung Nygen, Joseph Royer, Chad Willis, and Kathryn Mathis with help from apprentices Caleb Byers, Paul Langer, Shane Roel, and Beau Tayler.
The Tasting Room, located on the east side of Will Rogers Theater, will host the event which is broken up into 10 seatings with 20 seats available for each.
Each service has its own theme starting with breakfast, covering beef, chicken, pork, fish, and vegetarian plus some other surprises.
Each course includes wines, selected by various local brokers, specially paired with each course.
As a food professional, Fleischfresser finds it unconscionable that more than 700,000 people in Oklahoma sleep on an empty stomachs.
“Too many Oklahomans wake up and go to bed hungry,” Fleischfresser said. “I had the idea to do something like this from a sincere desire to be a part of a bigger solution to end hunger in this state.”
Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, said Fleischfresser is no stranger to the fight.
“Chef Fleischfresser has been a huge supporter of the Regional Food Bank for more than 25 years,” Bivens said.
“His passion for our mission of ‘Fighting Hunger … Feeding Hope' is unparalleled and we are grateful that he has chosen the Food Bank as the recipient charity for this incredible event.”
Tickets for the event are $100, and can be purchased in person at The Tasting Room at Will Rogers Theater or by phone at 604-3015.
If the Fleischfresser successfully pulls of this feat, it might be time to stop calling Fleischfresser Kahuna and start calling him Knievel.