Chef Nook named the first ‘Nature Chef’ for Oklahoma

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

More than 150 people attended The Nature Conservancy’s inaugural Malicious But Delicious fundraiser event in Tulsa on July 25 at the Woodward Mansion. During the event, attendees indulged in specially-created foods and beverages made by local chefs, but inspired by invasive and native ingredients. From peach and fennel ice cream to wild boar tacos, it was an adventure with a twist! However, only one chef walked away with the most votes to become Oklahoma’s first “Nature Chef.”

“We are honored to recognize Chef Albert ‘Nook’ Ducre with Copper Restaurant and Bar at Price Tower in Bartlesville as the winner of the 2019 Malicious But Delicious competition and are proud to crown him with the coveted title, ‘Nature Chef’,” said Mike Fuhr, state director for The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma. “The competition was fierce, which made educating the public about invasive species not only fun, but also incredibly tasty.”

Chef Nook chose the invasive species feral hog to mimic in his dish and won the show with his smoked braised pork shoulder served with cornbread gnocchi, chanterelle mushrooms, collard greens, and ramp vinegar.

“Thinking about the challenge we determined offering a smoked pork shoulder, with braised greens and cornbread gnocchi would make a delicious combination. So, we added some sweet onion vinegar and a pork crackling au jus…and it created a nice mixture of flavors that surprise the palette,” said Chef Nook. “The idea behind this event was so intriguing and dreaming up something delicious from invasive and native species was a new one for our team. We’re thrilled to have won this prestigious award, and thrilled to be offering this new creation up nightly to our guests at Copper Restaurant and Bar.”

Other dishes attendees indulged in at the event include:

Confit duck, local goat cheese, pears roasted with shallots and red wine vinegar, lavender-infused honey on house-made brioche crustini created by Chef Preston Stephens at Roosevelt’s Gastropub.

Hand-churned peach and fennel ice cream created by Randy and Claudia Imel at Five Oaks Lodge.

Cochinita Pibil Taco: Slow-cooked wild boar, coconut avocado, kimchi ramps, fire-roasted habanero peach over a saffron tortilla created by Chef Alfredo Zuniga at Vista at the Boathouse.

Prince Edward Island mussel poached in fennel and blackberry, paired with watercress ice, persimmon puree, pickled peach/peach mignot created by Chef Justin Thompson and Chef Roque Heidler at Justin Thompson Catering.

Cedar-smoked duck breast with a mulberry gastrique on a bed of braised mustard greens created by Chef Kevin Kihle at Prospect Local Bar and Kitchen.

Rabbit Shawarma, pickled fruit, fennel “tzatziki”, dandelion root pita, and Okie Dukkah created by Chef Tiffany Taylor at Counter Culture Gourmet.

Plague Doctor, a French country ale, brewed with foraged dandelion, sassafras, and birchbark leaf; and Liminal Space, a table beer, conditioned on foraged mulberries created by Brewer Jake Miller at Heirloom Rustic Ales.

Malicious But Delicious was made possible by generous support from Third Branch Engineering LLC, NextEra Energy Resources, Osage Casinos, Caroline and Guy Patton, and Cherokee Nation. In-kind donations were provided by Full Sun Composting, The M.e.t. - The Metropolitan Environmental Trust (M.E.T. Recycling Center), Integrity Lighting Inc, Vox Pop Tulsa, and Tulsa People Magazine.

— The Nature Conservancy