Things looking up for Coach House chef and his apprentices

Chef Kevin Lee graduates from The Coach House Apprenticeship Program in Oklahoma City with precision and aplomb.
by Dave Cathey Published: August 13, 2014
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Things are looking up for Kurt Fleischfresser and his band of apprentices.

News finally broke Tuesday of a long-rumored house-cleaning at Vast. Fleischfresser didn’t wield the broom, but he’s the guy stepping into the freshly swept dining room high above downtown.

The only thing it changes for Oklahoma’s culinary Big Kahuna is clocking more time since he is maintaining his 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 manned the stove at Vast since it opened in fall 2012. Fleischfresser said the challenge is 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.

Part of the changes will undoubtedly include new personnel around Williams. The good news is Fleischfresser need look no further than his culinary backyard.

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to attend a graduation dinner at The Coach House for Kevin Lee, marking the end of his run in The Coach House Apprenticeship Program.

On the verge of a trip to my hometown of Austin, Texas, and the getaway on Lake LBJ I’ve been going to since the late 1970s, I got a text from Lee, whom I wrote about when he co-owned Burger Rush and was a regular contributor to American Propane’s Open Flame series. Few things can rein me in from a trip south, where night skies are exceeded in brilliance only by tranquility, and the foods that inspired me to take on food dudery are a sniff away. But Lee’s text pushed my plans back two days.

After closing Burger Rush, Lee joined Fleischfresser and chef David Henry for a tour of Coach House kitchen duty. Lee entered the program with advanced sushi skills and considerable cooking chops, so I couldn’t wait to see what effect more than two years of intensive attention to detail and no room for compromise would have on the talented young chef.

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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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Graduation dinners occur about every six months. To learn more, go online to thecoachhouseokc.com.

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