By Darla Shelden
The Tasting Room at the Will Rogers Theater in Oklahoma City, was the scene of master Chef Kurt Fleischfresser’s premiere 101 course dining extravaganza “Culinaire for a Cause” to help fight hunger in Oklahoma. The event, by all accounts, went off flawlessly.
According to Allie Fleischfresser, Event Coordinator Western Concepts Restaurant Group, one additional course, a French Omelet with Truffles was served during the event, bringing the count to 101.
Chef Fleischfresser created “Culinaire for A Cause” to raise money and awareness for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. The all day event consisted of a mind boggling 100-course meal service divided into 10, 10-course dining settings. The $100 per person event began at 10:30 a.m., with the final seating served at midnight.
“This event was the first of its kind that I know of as far as a true 100 course composed dinner,” said Fleschfresser. “We came up with a way to use the venue, seat people and raise money for the Food Bank. Nobody could physically sit down for 14 hours and eat the amount of food we did, nor drink the amount of wine. We served twenty people at a time, plating every 30 seconds, with lots of logistical issues.
“No one could sit and eat for 14 hours except Oklahoma City restaurateurs Michel Buthion, David Egan from Cattleman’s Steakhouse and Varej Jazirvar from the Petroleum Club, who arrived at 10:30 a.m. and were there when the last plate was served. Michel and his brother, Chef Alain Buthion, who worked the event alongside Fleischfresser, are the owners of La Baguette and Bellini’s restaurants.
“The 100 course meal was a challenge taken by Chef Kurt and an army of local chefs, so David Egan, V.J. Jazz and I supported him, eating all 100 courses for a good cause “the Food Bank,” said Buthion. “It was like 100 amazing pages out of the gastronomy dictionary live in front of us. Mission accomplished!”
Fleischfresser has been chef since 1987 at Oklahoma City’s upscale Coach House restaurant, in Nichols Hills. In 2004, he became the restaurant’s owner. Receiving a 2012 top 10-restaurant ranking from Open Tables, the Coach House has been recognized as Oklahoma City’s only four diamond rated restaurant for 10 consecutive years.
In 2009 Fleischfresser and The Coach House joined with Carl Milam and his stable of eateries to form Western Concepts Restaurant Group consisting of Sushi Neko, Musashi’s, Wills Café, Will Rogers Theater, The Tasting Room and The Lobby Bar.
“Most of the people I work with, especially at the Coach House are like family,” said Fleischfresser. “I’ve got a very capable team of people that are jumping to do exciting things and we’re going to do them.”
The Culinaire for A Cause team included Chef Kurt Fleischfresser, Chef David Henry, Allie Fleishfresser, Angel Stork, Kyle Fleishfresser, Matt Johnson, Christine Dowd, Alain Buthion, Vong Nygen, Joseph Royer, Chad Willis, Kathryn Mathis, Paul Langer, Shane Roel, Beau Taylor.
Also, Erin Murphey, Kathryn O’Donnell, Jennifer Mayberry, Holly Schroeder, Julia Ballard, Tracey Warren, Sabrina North, Amy Esparza, Ty Kelly, Tabitha Agee, Chris Angel, Enis Mullaliu, Vilard Mullaliu, Scott Stuckey, Lahra Crookston, Ken Carlyle, Caleb Ryers, Jonathan Groth and the Culinary Team from Platt College.
“We started our day at 8 a.m. and finished at 2 a.m.,” said Christine Dowd, Chef at the Metro Wine Bar & Bistro. “Working with Chef Kurt is always a rewarding experience and his leadership in our industry is invaluable, plus he’s great fun to work with. It was very organized and all the chefs and cooks worked great together. It was a success for all of us.”
“I broke out the menu and we prepped all week, because it’s all made from scratch,” said Fleischfresser. I had five teams of two chefs that leapfrogged through the menu, It was challenging. We’re always trying to do things that will keep Oklahoma ahead of the culinary curve. It was something that had a positive feeling that will help the Food Bank.”
“This unique collaboration with Chef Fleischfresser is something that his organization hopes will encourage others to join the fight against hunger in Oklahoma,” said Rodney Bivens, Director of the Regional Food Bank. “Chef Fleischfresser has been a huge supporter of the Regional Food Bank for more than 25 years. His passion for our mission of ‘Fighting Hunger…Feeding Hope’ is unparalleled and we are grateful that he has chosen the Food Bank as the recipient charity for this incredible event.”
The daylong event menu offered such delicacies as Quail Egg Benedict with House-Cured Canadian Bacon, Chicken Liver Mousse with Applejack. Boudin Vert with Orzo and Pine Nuts. Snapper Carpaccio with Fried Capers. Pork Envoltini with Spinach and Roasted Pepper, Cured Duck with Sweet Potato Hash, Korean Charred Beef with Kim Chee, Summer Vegetable Lasagna, Foie Gras Pirogue, and Deconstructed Tiramisu.
“Thanks to Chef Kurt Fleischfresser and ‘Culinare For A Cause’, the Regional Food Bank will be able to put more food on the table for families, seniors and children in our state,” said Bivens.
There are over 675,000 Oklahomans at risk of hunger every day, including one in four children. The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma distributes enough food to feed more than 90,000 hungry Oklahomans each week through 825 charitable feeding programs and elementary schools in Oklahoma.
“I’m really proud of my dad for putting on this event, it was an amazing experience for us all,” said Allie. “I hope that we can do it again next year.”