Chef Ryan Lopez became interested in cooking in high school when he started reading cookbooks and cooking for himself more and more.
“I was always curious about how things were made and how chefs could make food taste the way it tastes,” he said.
Now Lopez will be the one showing how his dishes are made and how he uses flavors to make food taste its best at OSU Institute of Technology’s first Cowboy Chef’s Table luncheon.
The School of Culinary Arts will kick off its Cowboy Chef’s Table luncheon series Monday, July 24, with Lopez serving as the series’ first guest chef.
Lopez started his culinary career at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan and is now personal chef to NBA star Kevin Durant.
“The personal chef field is a little different from your typical chef job, but the personal attention I get to give to my clients is what I enjoy most,” he said.
The Cowboy Chef’s Table series invites accomplished chefs from different areas of the culinary field to present a cooking demonstration and talk about their career while guests are served some of that chef’s signature dishes.
Lopez will be the first guest chef in the luncheon series with four other presentations scheduled in the 2017-18 school year.
Tickets to the luncheon are $15 with proceeds going to the Cowboy Chef’s Table Scholarship Fund. U.S. Foods and Ben E. Keith are donating the food for the luncheons and U.S. Foods has already donated $500 to the scholarship fund.
School of Culinary Arts Dean Gene Leiterman said he wanted to have an event that would benefit students and bring renowned chefs as well as guests from the surrounding area and potential students to the OSUIT campus.
“Chefs in the community wanted to give back, they wanted to help the students,” Leiterman said, and it’s a benefit to the community. “They can eat a really wonderful meal, see a cooking demonstration and hear a talk from an experienced chef at an affordable price.”
Lopez’s day at OSUIT will begin by teaching a class to culinary students and showing them how to prepare his dishes.
“We wanted them to learn and interact with these visiting chefs,” Leiterman said, adding that those students who volunteer their time in preparing for the luncheons are the ones eligible to receive scholarships from the Cowboy Chef’s Table fund.
At noon when the luncheon begins Lopez will do a cooking demonstration and talk about this dish as well as his career as a personal chef and his culinary perspective.
“Cooking is a reflection of you as a person. It’s this deeper connection that you have with the food you’re preparing,” he said, and he hopes those that attend take more than just a full stomach home with them. “I want you to come and have a great experience. Learn new techniques and get some healthy cooking tips.”
Lopez said he’s looking forward to working with the students and instructors as well.
“OSUIT’s culinary students are the future of shaping of Oklahoma as a food hub. The instructors there are incredible and really doing a great job to shape the future of the food culture in Oklahoma. I want to be a part of the students’ growth and the state’s food scene as a whole,” he said.
And he remembers how impactful attending culinary school was for him.
“Culinary school taught me more than just braising, poaching and baking. It taught me teamwork, organization skills and hard work. And hard work again,” Lopez said, lessons he hopes to impart on OSUIT’s culinary students. “Work hard, learn from your chefs and peers, build relationships and enjoy these moments.”
For more information or to reserve your seat to the Cowboy Chef’s Table luncheon, go to osuit.edu/chefstable.