Taste Of Oklahoma: International Cuisine Courtesy Of Chef Andrew Black

Jumping from his home in Jamaica to kitchens across Europe and the United States, Chef Andrew Black discusses his passion for food and people here in Oklahoma City.

Thursday, February 15th 2024, 10:44 am

By: News 9


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Bringing flavors and experience from kitchens in Jamaica, Europe and here in Oklahoma, chef Andrew Black serves to bring a career of passion to the dinner plate.

Learning to cook in his home country of Jamaica, where a melting pot of influence from across the world pours into local cuisine, Black left home to work in kitchens across Europe.

Black eventually wound up here in Oklahoma City, when the Skirvin Hotel hired him to open Park Avenue Grill in 2007. Since his arrival in the metro, Black has been nominated for and won several awards, including the 2023 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest.

A hallmark of Black's cooking: bold experimentation with flavor. Two of his signature dishes, scallops and fries, a take on fish and chips, and lavender chicken, came from his willingness to try something new.

Currently, chef Black operates three restaurants in Oklahoma City: Grey Sweater and Black Walnut, both located at the corner of Northeast 4th Street and North Walnut Avenue, and his newest addition to the city's culinary scene, Gilded Acorn, located at the corner of Robinson and Main in Downtown.

Black said the different restaurants each stem from a different part of his lifestyle.

"I love to wake up in the morning and have a cup of coffee and a piece of pastry," chef Black said. "I love to go to a restaurant like Black Walnut three times a week, where [there's] vibes and energy, and then every now and then I love to go to like a restaurant like Grey Sweater where I can just lock the world off and really enjoy that."

However, Black said the pressure of delivering not only great food, but also a great service, weighs on him.

"The state of Oklahoma has over 20,000 restaurants," Black said. "Just imagine as an owner.. someone opened your door and said 'hey, I'm gonna spend money with you today.' That's a lot of pressure, that's big. So my biggest fear and pet peeve is 'did we deliver?'"

Luckily for chef Black, Oklahomans answered that question with a "yes."

"I've known from Day One, that the best people in the world [are] in Oklahoma City," Black said. "I get a call every day to move out of Oklahoma City, but this is home for me. It's the people. The people is what keep me here, and the people is what makes Oklahoma what it is right now."

As for whether or not he still enjoys cooking, Black answered "absolutely."

Chef Black is now preparing to open his fourth restaurant, at the place where he got his start in Oklahoma. Perla Mesta opens at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel later this year.

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