“I opened my own restaurant in Cleveland when I was nineteen,” says pastor Ken Johnson. “I was just a kid – didn’t know what I was doing. I’d taste food in my mind and then I’d go back and create the recipe.”
Then life caught up with him. A car crash took his leg, and almost his life. He turned to religion, studied at Rhema Bible College, and for twelve years had his own church in a hardscrabble Cleveland neighborhood. He still has a traveling ministry, preaching just this year in California and Florida, but he and his five children have settled in Tulsa now. Through it all, he never stopped cooking.
“My dad used to cook us a lot of delicious things,” says his daughter and the restaurant manager, Christa Johnson. “We always told him to open his own restaurant.”
And now he has. First as a food truck, then as pop-ups at Mother Road Market, and finally in its own place as Chippers Seafood and Southern, a rather elegant south Tulsa space with Pompeiian red walls that used to house Michael V’s.
Though the restaurant is billed as casual seafood and southern, the food lives up to its fine-dining setting. The one pound seafood stuffed potato features a lavish portion of tasty shrimp, covered with a rich yet delicate sauce that, though called “Cajun Alfredo” on the menu, is more like a classic French sauce mornay.
The menu features lots of pastas, fish dishes, steaks and burgers, with tempting sides like candied yam soufflé and collard greens with smoked turkey. Johnson also does a fine job with fried chicken and catfish.
“I created everything on the menu,” he says. “I perfected the flavors, and I do my best to guarantee excellence, consistency and quality.”