Skirvin Hotel's new chef is rooted in Oklahoma

Chef Chris Pope returns to Oklahoma to take the helm at one of the state's most prestigious kitchens, the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City.
by Dave Cathey Modified: September 20, 2011 at 11:35 pm •  Published: September 20, 2011

It's not often Palm Springs, Calif., loses members of its populace to Oklahoma City.

But when chef Chris Pope got the opportunity to take over the kitchen of the Skirvin Hotel, he said goodbye to a place most aspire to never leave.

“I don't think I would've left there for anywhere but Oklahoma,” Pope said.

Pope, who boasts more than two decades in the hospitality industry, was born in Kentucky but grew up in Oklahoma. He's a graduate of Sequoyah High School in Tulsa and the culinary school at Oklahoma State University in Okmulgee.

Pope was called upon last spring when the Skirvin's longtime chef, Andrew Black, left for The Colcord Hotel. Since 2008, Pope has served as executive chef at Riviera Resort and Spa in Palm Springs, a 410-room property with more than 28,000 square feet of banquet space.

As executive chef at the Skirvin, Pope will oversee concept development, menu planning and food preparation for the hotel's Park Avenue Grill and Red Piano Lounge, as well as its catering services. He's made subtle changes to the menu, but his first major project will be a kitchen makeover.

“I'm taking the whole thing apart,” Pope said. “Complete overhaul, just for efficiency.”

Taste tests

On a recent lunch at the hotel's Park Avenue Grill, I tried one of Pope's additions, the BLT Salad. Ripe Roma tomato, thick sugar-braised bacon and baby lettuce act as fortress to a cache of spicy jalapeno ranch dressing. It's the perfect lunch choice, satiating but bound to leave plenty of room for dinner. But if you're wanting to cover dinner for lunch, there's a lunch buffet sure to get you through to tomorrow's breakfast.

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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