Chef Andrew Black has created the pinnacle of fine dining in Oklahoma City.
This spring, Cadillac sent 405 senior writer Greg Horton and blogger/influencer Sarah James on a culinary adventure around Oklahoma City to talk to chefs about their food, inspiration and hospitality.
Grey Sweater is the creation of a brilliant, talented team, and the man leading that team is James Beard Award (Outstanding Chef) nominee Andrew Black. Born in Jamaica, Black grew up very poor, and food was an important part of time spent with family. He left home early and worked in kitchens from France to Memphis (Peabody Hotel), where he perfected his talents as a fine dining chef. Grey Sweater’s tasting menu and single seating per night attracts gourmands from all over the U.S. to sample dishes made with ingredients sourced from all over the world.
Sarah: This space is beautiful. I have to know how you came up with this concept.
Chef Black: This started 15 years ago. I had a chef’s table at the Skirvin Hotel, but back then everyone was like “no one wants to hear the chef yelling at everyone in the kitchen,” but I always knew I wanted to do it on a bigger scale. I’ve worked in enough corporate restaurants that I know they’ll only let you get so far out there, and then they think it’s too far, so I wanted a place where we could create food with no boundaries and no allegiance to a style or a dish or a corporate template.
Sarah: The no allegiance means you aren’t tied to a supplier or a menu, but what’s the guest experience at Grey Sweater.
Chef Black: At the end of the day, the food has to taste good. We don’t owe allegiance to a dish – even your favorite dish – so we’ll eventually move on from it. That goes for wine and cocktails too. We are constantly creating without barriers, and that means we want to constantly move on, but the food and wine and the cocktails have to be good. More than than that, though, is how we make you feel. If you dine in this restaurant and somehow you don’t feel like you’re at home enjoying a great meal with friends, we’ve failed.
Sarah: How do you decide what goes on such a creative, ever-changing menu?
Chef Black: I think chefs are artists, and we have a great team here. We ask questions of each other about the food we get from our suppliers. How do we prepare it? Highlight it? Do something different with it? The team talks through all these things, and then we start creating. I like the analogy of artists working, so the menu is whatever we choose to pain that day.