Josh Partain at Stella Modern Italian Cuisine is a talented local chef contributing to the fabric of Oklahoma City’s thriving food culture. He was born in Oklahoma City and has worked diligently to get to his position today; diners are now consistently impressed with his innovative and delicious dishes.

Although Partain was born in OKC, his culinary journey started in Elk City, where he spent many childhood days near his grandparents’ farm. The farm had “everything – they had chicken coops, a cow and a big orchard,” he says. His grandmother was an amazing cook; Partain says his favorite dishes of hers were chicken noodle soup and potato pancakes. 

In high school, he decided to pursue a formal culinary education and enrolled in Francis Tuttle’s Culinary Arts Program. Later, armed with the knowledge gained from the program, Partain honed his skills working at Flips Wine Bar and Deep Fork Grill. His talents later led him to Rococo, where he further sharpened his expertise. During this phase of his career, Partain’s dedication and skill set him apart, which garnered him positive recognition from both peers and patrons.

Today, Partain leads the charge at Stella, a culinary destination specializing in all things Italian. 

He brings an “old-world style of cooking with a new flair” to the restaurant’s innovative and contemporary Italian cuisine, he says. 

His culinary artistry shines through his approach. With a deep respect for tradition, yet a desire to push boundaries, he combines flavors, ingredients and techniques … with delicious results. 

“Building layers and flavors with old school styles, but adding a new twist to break it up” is his passion, he says. He is animated when talking about his craft and takes pride in creating dishes that are both aesthetically pleasing and flavorful.

At Stella, guests can experience Partain’s creative blend of tradition and innovation. Stella’s Italian wedding soup reminds the chef a bit of his grandmother’s homemade chicken noodle soup, while his new buttermilk poached halibut dish, available this summer, is sure to take your taste buds on an exciting journey. The halibut is poached with roasted garlic, chili flakes and herbs. The fish is served on grilled zucchini with a pistachio crumb and sunflower microgreens. The chicken and pancetta pasta with the arugula gremolata is one of Partain’s favorite new dishes that’s also popular among patrons. 

Partain’s artistry in the kitchen is evident in every dish. From humble beginnings to his current success, Partain stands out as an extraordinary talent in Oklahoma City’s competitive culinary landscape. 

His embrace of modern Italian cuisine and unique approach to ingredients bring flavor, style and artistry to his dishes. Whether you’re a familiar face or a first-time visitor, Stella and chef Partain himself are sure to delight.

Photos cutline: Chef Josh Partain helms the kitchen at Stella, which serves up a variety of traditional and boundary pushing Italian dishes. Photos courtesy Stella Modern Italian Cuisine

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