Saying that chef Kurt Fleischfresser is a part of the Oklahoma City food scene seems borderline insincere. What may be better to say is that Fleischfresser, for decades, has been a culinary machine, forging the way to OKC’s dynamic food scene … full stop.
Fleischfresser’s dedication to craft and constant duty to educate and mold culinary talent for this city, state and country are parallel to none. Some people’s first thought when they hear the word chef is the person wearing the tallest toque at their favorite restaurant. When local and statewide chefs hear it, they think of Fleischfresser.
By tracing the lineage of some of OKC’s most admired dining establishments, past and present, one can see Fleischfresser’s influence, teaching and vision on virtually every menu with every chef in every OKC food district.
Fleischfresser’s culinary coat of arms bears heraldry from early 405 eats, such as The Coach House, The Metro and Portobello’s – subsequently morphing into The Deep Fork. New and innovative concepts, for the times, were added to his chevron with The Ground Floor Cafe, Earl’s Rib Palace, the OKC Museum of Art’s cafe and Irma’s Burger Shack (named after his grandmother). He now adds Cafe Cuvee inside the Ambassador Hotel to that shield.
For this recent adventure, Fleischfresser has teamed with Paul Coury, CEO of Coury Hospitality. They agreed that Viceroy, the restaurant formerly occupying the space in the Ambassador, needed reimagining, so they developed a French bistro, which opened in the summer.
“Taylor Desjarlais is the chef at the hotel and one-time apprentice of mine, formerly of Chae restaurant, plus [he’s] a great guy,” Fleischfresser says. “He’s passionate about French food, so this was a perfect concept to bring into the Ambassador.”
With decades of developing OKC restaurants and a long partnership with the Western Concepts group (featuring Sushi Neko, Musashi’s and The Hutch), Fleisch-fresser has knocked out culinary talent through his apprentice program, which has progeny at some of OKC’s finest places to wine and dine.
When it comes to balancing menu ideas for his various restaurants, Fleischfresser relies on his chefs.
“I have a huge repertoire in my head and throw those ideas out to the chefs,” he says. “I like working with my guys, all former apprentices, and it’s important to give them ownership of those menus.”
With chefs des cuisine David Henry at The Hutch, Desjarlais at Cafe Cuvee and Kevin Lee at Vast, Fleischfresser knows those establishments are in great hands – and more importantly, so are the diners.
Fleischfresser’s years of experience, tutelage and artistry have broadened OKC’s dining landscape. He says years of success in the kitchen fosters the ability to step away from 12 hours “on the line, cranking out cover after cover,” and enjoy the pleasures of traveling the world, performing cooking demonstrations and, most importantly, being a doting grandfather.
“I like this time in my life,” Fleischfresser says with a smile.
Rosemary-Cured Foie Gras and Frisee Salad
Roasted pearl onions
2 hand fulls fresh frisee greens
2 portions foie gras
1/2 cup sliced, fresh fennel
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
Whole bulb roasted garlic, cut in half horizontally
2 poached eggs
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup raspberry vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Coat the foie portions in the rosemary cure. Set for one hour.
Heat olive oil in a small sauce pan until hot and shimmering.
Lay your foie in gently and sear, caramelizing one side for three minute and two on the other.
Remove the foie and set aside.
Add more olive oil in a second pan and heat. Add the leftover roasted potatoes and gently smash in the pan. Crisp both sides.
Add the roasted garlic bulb and pearl onions, then gently saute.
Splash in a bit of balsamic vinegar to de-glaze the pan and reduce the balsamic down.
Add the handfuls of fresh frisee greens on two salad plates. Top the greens with the seared foie gras.
Return the foie gras pan back to the heat and add a bit more olive oil, about 3 tbsp. To that, add the sliced shallots and fennel, then gently saute until tender and fragrant. Season with salt and black pepper.
De-glaze the pan with raspberry vinegar. Swirl the pan to heat and gently reduce the vinegar. Scrape the “fond” from the bottom of the pan to incorporate into the dressing. Pour the entire warm dressing over the top of the salad.
Add the balsamic glazed potatoes and onions, then squeeze out the roasted garlic on top of the salad.
Finish with a soft poached egg on each salad.
For the rosemary cure:
2 tbsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. fresh rosemary
Grind to a fine powder in a coffee grinder