A Conversation With the Woman Behind Cosabella Kitchen
Chef Erica Hogan invites us inside her Cosabella Kitchen
Cosabella Kitchen in OKC serves up a group dining experience unlike any other restaurant or event venue. The small and swanky space, which becomes the client’s personal party for a few hours, is part cocktail lounge, part cooking class, part catered dinner … and fully delicious.
It works like this: Chef Erica Hogan leads the group (20 to 30 people is ideal) through a cooking class. They can learn how to make pasta, fish, pizza, a charcuterie platter or vegetarian special- ties like ratatouille, and menus are customized beforehand to match culinary preferences. After the group prepares some food, they are encouraged to mingle and snag a seat at the dinner table—all while Hogan finishes cooking their meal.
Hogan opened Cosabella a little less than three years ago. Today, she is completely booked through the winter. As she shares more about the experience she offers, it’s easy to see why.
Q: What is your most popular cooking class?
A: Pasta is definitely where it’s at right now. They make fettuccine and spaghetti noodles; they get to make the dough themselves and cut the noodles themselves. I boil the pasta for them. We always do a Bolognese meat sauce, and quite often pesto, as a vegetarian option. We also serve a salad and lemon chicken. The lemon chicken is a dish I serve with every pasta class, and it’s a dish I learned from Francis Ford Coppola. That’s my only claim to fame.
Q: How did you get this dish from Francis Ford Coppola?
A: He was a houseguest. He was in town shooting a film at O-triple-C, and he stayed in our condo for six months. He offered to come out to our home and cook for us for a couple of nights. He taught me the recipe. It’s Mrs. Scorsese’s lemon chicken—so Martin Scorsese’s mother’s chicken. I remember he kept sending me out to my garden to get more oregano, and it was pouring down rain! I feel like he inspired me to open this [Cosabella]. I was at a spot where I was going to take a break, and he kind of inspired me to follow my dreams. So, the dish is a staple here.
Q: Tell me your culinary history.
A: My father is a banker by day, but he is also a great French chef. We would eat French food every night and sit together around the family dinner table. So, I learned a lot from him, and my mother loved to cook. My brother is also a French- trained chef, and I worked in his restaurant, Le Sep Bistro in Edmond. I studied under my brother, who was classically trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York, before opening my own catering business, Cosabella Cuisine. I’ve been in the restaurant business for about 20 years now.
Q: What does “Cosabella” mean?
A: “Beautiful thing.” A sweet friend who works with me one day said, “You have to open your own place.” We were brainstorming, and she said, “Everything you do is beautiful. Your food is beautiful. Your presentation is beautiful. You should call it ‘beautiful thing, Cosabella.’” So that’s how that name came to life.
Q: Besides cooking and eating, what can people expect at Cosabella?
A: I think—from what I’ve seen—[people get] to relax. People come into this environment, which I feel is very cozy, and they feel like they are at home, but they are at a restaurant. And it’s not like a restaurant with other people surrounding them. They can come here, feel very comfortable and relaxed, have intimate conversations or meetings, and enjoy great food.