Black, a native of Jamaica, stresses Vast is global cuisine for American palates. To achieve the goal, he's assembled an international staff.
The keys to Vast will hang from the belt of general manager Mario Rivera, who was born and raised in Lima, Peru. Rivera has lived in and opened and operated venues from San Francisco to Miami, Fla. Most recently he served as the director of restaurants for VV Ventures in Las Vegas. He also opened Flint in the Colcord in Oklahoma City with Williams and Black.
“Vast is globally inspired American cuisine,” Rivera said. “We are trying to do something that speaks to getting the best ingredients from around the world and using our interpretations or using different techniques on well-known dishes from around the world.”
Executive chef Patrick Williams is a Kansas City, Mo., native.
He honed his skills working with three James Beard Award-winning chefs as sous chef at The American Restaurant and as the executive chef for Pierpont's at the Union Station. Williams will present two menus: one for lunch and one for dinner.
“We didn't want any direct correlation between lunch and dinner,” Williams said. “They're their own separate entities. Neither one is lesser than the other. We just didn't want to have the same fish dish at dinner as you have at lunch. We wanted to keep it different — a different reason to go at different times of day.”
Executive pastry chef Veejoruth Purmessur, a native of the East Indian island of Mauritius, has worked around the world, overseeing pastry departments at 20 hotels in five countries while at Sandals.
Sampling the menu
As for the menu, there's not much I can tell you at this point as it remained a closely guarded secret up to publication time. I was in last week for a tour, and we did taste a few items.
Chefs Black and Williams prepared surf and turf, including a play on paella, a seasonal quail appetizer that celebrated the flavors of Thanksgiving, and a strip steak topped with herb butter armed with a Maytag-packed brick of delicious bleu cheese over asparagus, and a beautifully poached cippolini dipped in orange glaze. The highlight was seared scallops stuffed with lobster and served with a cardamom-carrot puree, passion fruit reduction and citrus-braised fennel.
The desserts I tried were divine. The fried pie filled with bananas foster was a knee-buckler thanks to the ultra-flaky pastry with house-made gelato and caramel dipping sauce.
It's a small sampling, but it's definitely enough to make me want to come back to try more. That'll be a challenge at first, as the restaurant is not taking reservations for all of its 140 dining room seats.
“We're going to start by taking 80 reservations the first week, then 90 the next and so on,” John Williams said. “We're booked solid for dinner through middle of November.”
It's an exciting time in Oklahoma City's story. Our food and its purveyors are integral to the narrative. Vast's opening is a crucial chapter in determining how far Oklahoma flavor can reach.
It's impossible to say much today what the future holds for Vast and its role in the Oklahoma dining narrative, but it goes without saying things are looking up.Photo Gallery: Vast