A fun Q&A with some of the state’s up-and-coming chefs as well as culinary superstars.
Photography by Jeremy Smith
executive chef of Choctaw Casino Hotel, Pocola, Oklahoma
Hometown: London, England.
Are you a formally trained chef or an on-the-job-trained cook? I am a formally trained gourmet, French cuisine chef. I attended culinary school for six years.
Where were you trained? I trained in 3-star, Michelin-rated establishments in England and France.
How many years have you worked in the food industry? I have worked in the hospitality industry 41 years.
What or who inspired you to become a chef/cook? I was inspired to become a chef by my Ukrainian grandmother, who spent all her time cooking exotic European dishes and desserts.
What was the first item or meal you prepared? The first item I prepared by myself was a Victoria sponge cake with a vanilla cream and strawberry filling. I was 4 years old.
What is your favorite meal to prepare? I get great satisfaction working with seafood, combining it into a fusion dish with other interesting ingredients.
What is your favorite meal? My favorite meal is a rare, grilled ribeye steak with fresh-cut French fried potatoes and a fried egg.
What is your favorite meal to eat out? One of my favorite dishes is Jamaican goat curry.
What is your favorite junk food? I do like hamburgers.
What is your favorite type of cuisine? I adore spicy Indian food.
What is your favorite utensil, gadget or piece of equipment? You need an arsenal of equipment to produce excellent food; however, my favorite item is my mandolin.
Where do you find new recipes? I’m always experimenting, trying new products and “marrying” items together. My latest dish is guava compote with grilled lamb medallions.
For whom would you most like to prepare a meal? I’ve been very luck in my career to cook for notable and famous people, so I would love to cook a meal for my parents.
Music or silence? Lots of music.
Salty or sweet? You can’t beat sweet.
Bake or nah? Everybody loves baked goods, and you can’t get a better baked item than a freshly baked all-butter croissant.
Beer, wine or cocktail? I grew up in France and enjoy drinking wine — preferably red — but Pernod on the rocks is my drink of choice. Since I’ve been living in America, I have learned to enjoy good bourbon as well.
Do you cook at home? My wife does all the cooking at home — I don’t even know where she keeps the salt.
What food or meal do you wish you’d invented? The soufflé — it’s an ingenious, versatile dish that requires a lot of culinary skill to produce perfectly.
What food trends do you like or hate the most? I think the growth of the food truck industry has improved culinary standards and introduced the public to types of food they may never have had the chance to sample.