A salad of local mixed greens and fruit served at the Coach House

A salad of local mixed greens and fruit served at the Coach House

When Corporate Chef Kurt Fleischfresser became a partner in his restaurant group, Western Concepts, he always knew he wanted to serve Oklahoma cuisine.

“I didn’t want to purchase ingredients from New York or California. I wanted people to eat real Oklahoma food,” he says. “It makes it much more personal for me, and I’m prouder of the dishes I put out.”

That’s the reasoning behind Fleischfresser’s choice to source local as much as possible for his Oklahoma City restaurants, including The Coach House, The Lobby Café and Bar, Vast and Irma’s Burger Shack.

“It ebbs and flows, depending on the time of year, but we source as much local as possible,” Fleischfresser says.

Some of those products include fresh beef from NoName Ranch in Wynnewood, which Fleischfresser has been using for several years, as well as local chickens, eggs and produce, such as asparagus. Fleischfresser says they even have an apprenticeship program at The Coach House where participants are given an allowance to spend at the local farmers market to gather ingredients for the week ahead.

Along with NoName Ranch, Western Concepts consistently sources from other producers including Walnut Creek for hogs and Shawnee Mills.

Fleischfresser says that as an accomplished chef, his reputation precedes him at times, but he thinks it’s very important to stay loyal to the producers and farms he uses.

“We are loyal to NoName Ranch, but if another rancher approaches me, I can help him make connections with other chefs in the area,” he says.

Chef Kurt Fleischfresser sits at one of the dinning booths  of Coach House restaurant.

Chef Kurt Fleischfresser sits at one of the dinning booths of Coach House restaurant.

Justin Thompson, owner and head chef of Justin Thompson Restaurant Group (JTR), agrees that loyalty is key in building relationships.

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“Building those relationships comes from my entire chef team working with various producers,” he says. “At this point, we have supported so many local vendors that now they call us to ask what we need or want. Sometimes, they call us looking for us to buy something specific that they need to move, so we do to help them and highlight their products.”

Juniper Restaurant and Martini Bar in Tulsa is part of JTR, and focuses on providing the freshest local products. Thompson says they source a great number of local ingredients, including chicken from DARP in Tehlequah; pork, beef and lamb from Natural Farms in Tulsa; greens from Scissortail Farms; goat cheese from Canyon Creek Farms; pecans from Knight Farms; herbs from Groggs Green Barn and a lot more. Thompson says they also purchase produce every Saturday from different vendors at the Tulsa Farmers Market.

“We support local for a number of reasons,” Thompson says. “We want our dollars going back into the pockets of the people that dine at our restaurant. We can see how the products are being raised, grown, butchered and packaged, and know they meet our standards of quality. And we support local because the products are fresher and more nutrient-rich than those that travel across the country.”

And while both Thompson and Fleischfresser appreciate the flavors and freshness of local ingredients as chefs, Thompson adds that sourcing local helps create a demand in the market for locally grown, in turn securing the future for farmers and producers in Oklahoma.

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“A decrease in Oklahoma farmers would prevent consumers from benefiting from more nutrient-rich and indigenous produce and livestock,” he says. “I don’t think anyone would be happy if Bixby sweet corn was gone from the market, or heirloom tomatoes or peppers in the middle of summer. We’d all miss out.”

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