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All hail Oklahoma's top chef for 2023, Manuel Soto
Estuche shakes but doesn't stir enroute to cocktail crown
The Oklahoma Restaurant Association held its annual expo last week, which meant they also crowned new Culinary Cookoff and Cocktail Shakedown champions.
Chef Manuel Soto of Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club took the crown from defending champion Ricky George of Osteria with help from student assistant Grace Koemel from Francis Tuttle Tech Center. George followed up his title with a runner-up finish with help from Makenna Eaton of Pioneer Technology Center. Soto earned $2000 and a commercial mixer for the win.
Judges did NOT include me for the first time in seven years, but I was happy to see chefs Mark Vannasdall, Mark Guizol, Kurt Fleischfresser, Robert Black, and Kevin Lee at judges table.
The Champion of the 2023 ORA Cocktail Shakedown is Mark Estuche of Boulevard Steakhouse winner of $1,000. He edged Jameson Johns of Flamingo Tiki, who took home $500.
The pizza crusade continues. Since last week, I’ve had slices at Hall’s Pizza Kitchen and Piatto Italian Kitchen.
Joining me at Hall’s was the amazing Alyssa Ulrich. At 25, she’s head baker and pastry chef at Harvey Bakery. Her offerings are also on display at Hall’s. With her at the table, you certainly get the kitchen’s best effort.
Lunch started with Quinn’s Burrata, which is drizzled with truffle honey and comes with Calabrese olive oil and pita. Then came a half-and-a-half pie of Samwise and Hello Summer. Check the menu for full descriptions. I will say the Samwise proved to me rosemary roasted potatoes belong on pizza.
Over at Piatto, chef Rolyn Soberanis has added pizzas to the menu. Owner Enis Mullaliu said they serve a limited number of pies daily. Stopped in with DeadCenter Film Festival organizer Krystal Yoseph on Monday to share a Pizza Margherita whilst I introduced her to my favorite daiquiri in the city – limoncello and basil for the win!
Paid subscribers can look forward to more news and views on Wednesday and Sunday this week. Here’s a few events you don’t want to miss.
Thirst For a Cause, Aug. 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 4040 N Lincoln Blvd. Wine-O’s unite to raise money for a food-service professional facing medical challenges not covered by insurance. It’s the 14th iteration of the event, which also takes place in Tulsa. The event draws about 30 premium wineries and about 200 wines along with 10 local restaurants for light bites. Guests can meet and interact with vintners who represent some of the best wines available in the nation. Tickets and more information can be found here
The India Food and Art Festival, Sept. 10 from 3 to 9 p.m. at Scissortail Park. Hosted by the India Association of Oklahoma, the festival will features food, clothing , jewelry and stalls representing cultures from different regions of India. Dance dominates the entertainment, including Bollywood, classical temple dances, and folk dance. Live music will accompany those along with a fashion show. The festival will also include artists and a kids zone.