Tulsa Restaurant Community Remembers James Beard-Nominated Chef

People in the Tulsa restaurant industry are remembering James Beard-nominated executive chef, Paul Wilson. News On 6's Chinh Doan shared how loved ones hope to continue his work.

Wednesday, July 5th 2023, 10:40 pm



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The Tulsa culinary community is mourning the loss of a James Beard-nominated executive chef.

50-year-old Paul Wilson, who had worked at several Tulsa restaurants and just opened another one this year, died last week in a biking accident. Loved ones described Wilson as artistic, adventurous and a genius in the kitchen. Pamela Sherman showed News On 6 her son's cooking knives as she looks back on his life as a father, brother, son, and mentor.

Sherman said Wilson started as a cook in Wisconsin, then his career blossomed in Minnesota, Louisiana, and then Oklahoma after Hurricane Katrina.

"He really did come back here to try to make the Tulsa restaurant scene a better place,” said Sherman.

Sherman said Wilson loved French-style cooking and worked at Summit Club, Bodean, S and J Oyster Company, Juniper, Chalkboard, and Polo Grill and was also a partner at Boston Title and Abstract. In February, Wilson opened Sans Murs, which means without walls in French, located at the Silo Event Center in West Tulsa.

Sherman said Wilson used an electric bike to get around and was on his way home from the restaurant around 1 a.m. on June 29, when he died after accidentally riding off a ledge on the Katy Trail in West Tulsa.

"I miss him like crazy,” said Sherman.

Bethany Willyard said she is devastated she will not have her big brother and best friend by her side for her wedding in September.

"He was going to be doing all the cooking, and he was also going to fill in for our father and do the dad-daughter dance with me,” said Willyard.

Wilson's loved ones plan to create a scholarship for culinary students in his honor and also reopen Sans Murs with the help of family and colleagues.

"I don't want anything out of it except to see my brother's legacy continue," said Willyard.

Loved ones are planning a celebration of life and memorial service. The memorial service is at 10 a.m. Aug. 8 at Boston Avenue United Methodist in Tulsa. The celebration of life will be in a few weeks (date to be determined) in Tulsa.

You can donate to a GoFundMe account in Wilson’s honor here

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