For the Odyssey de Culinaire fundraising dinners, there can’t be too many cooks in the kitchen.
The Oklahoma Restaurant Association organizes the annual fundraising dinners, one in Oklahoma City and one in Tulsa, to raise money and awareness for the Oklahoma Hospitality Foundation’s ProStart program, which introduces high school students to careers in the food service industry.
Ten chefs and two coordinating chefs are selected each year, six from the Oklahoma City area and six from the Tulsa area, to prepare a five-course meal for guests.
This year, OSU Institute of Technology School of Culinary Arts instructor Chef Bill Leib was selected to be part of Oklahoma City’s lineup of powerhouse chefs.
“I’m humbled and honored to be invited,” Leib said. “It will be a fun experience. Hopefully my food will go over well.”
Leib said he is the first instructor from OSUIT to be invited to take part in Odyssey de Culinaire since he started teaching at the university five years ago.
Several OSUIT alumni are also represented at this year’s Oklahoma City benefit including Chef Christopher Pope of the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, who is serving as the coordinating chef, and Chef Theron Jessop also of the Skirvin Hilton Hotel.
“It’s a fun group; we’re all supportive of each other,” Leib said of his fellow chefs participating. “We joke and it’s jovial, but we’d help each other if someone needed it. We all want everyone to be successful.”
Tulsa’s Odyssey de Culinaire is Thursday, July 23, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Renaissance Hotel, 6808 S. 107th E. Ave. In Oklahoma City, the benefit dinner is Thursday, July 30, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, 1 Park Ave.
The cost is $125 per person or $875 for a table seating eight people. The money raised from Odyssey de Culinaire provides support to students, teachers and schools who are part of the ProStart program.
Each of the chefs will be paired with a ProStart student who will serve as their sous chef while they prepare one of the five courses served during the dinner.
Leib said it’s important to be involved in events like Odyssey de Culinaire and organizations like ProStart because they are vital to the future of the industry.
“It’s a great recruiting tool,” he said. “We get a lot of students that have come from the ProStart program.”
Odyssey de Culinaire
What: Fundraising dinner prepared by world-class chefs benefitting the ProStart program
When: Both events are from 6 to 9 p.m., July 23 in Tulsa and July 30 in Oklahoma City
Where: Tulsa, Renaissance Hotel, 6808 S. 107th E. Ave.
Oklahoma City, Skirvin Hilton Hotel, 1 Park Ave.
Cost: $125 per person and $875 for a table seating eight.
Tulsa’s Odyssey de Culinaire Chefs
Coordinating Chef Sam Bracken, The Canebrake
Ben Alexander, The Tavern
Kevin Kihle, Renaissance Hotel Tulsa
Lia Lewis, Culinary Institute of Platt College
Erik Reynolds, SMOKE on Cherry Street
Tim Slavin, Juniper Restaurant & Martini Lounge
Oklahoma City’s Odyssey de Culinaire Chefs
Coordinating Chef Christopher Pope, Skirvin Hilton Hotel
Jonas Favela, Boulevard Steakhouse
Theron Jessop, Skirvin Hilton Hotel
Bill Leib, OSU Institute of Technology School of Culinary Arts
Leonard Novak, Ambassador Hotel
Mark Vannasdall, Nebu & Aravalli