Nasturtiums. Red clover. Oyster mushrooms. Sunrise-colored persimmons that taste like orange popsicles. Eastern redbud flowers. These are just a few of the ingredients that chefs Jeremy Wolfe and Colin Stringer are using to create a distinct Oklahoma cuisine.
At Nonesuch, their 22-seat tasting-menu restaurant in Oklahoma City, these young chefs are working closely with area farmers to do for the state’s goods precisely what Noma’s René Redzepi did for the unsung products of his native Denmark: elevating the forgotten and the mundane, offal and weeds, to the fine-dining table. Even the rocks on which the restaurant plates amuse-bouches are gathered locally.
“This is New Nordic Cuisine,” Wolfe says. “It’s hyperlocal, no set menu. It’s whatever we get that day.” Nonesuch began as a somewhat less than legal pop-up called Nani, which fused Native American and Japanese food. When the health department shut down the wildly popular culinary speakeasy for operating without a license, restaurateur Todd Woodruff helped the chefs find a permanent home, in late 2017. Last year, Bon Appétit named Nonesuch the best new restaurant in America, and today it books out three months of reservations in less than an hour.
Those diners might find Oklahoma’s bounty surprising. For instance, it turns out that the Sooner State is one of the largest producers of sustainable paddlefish caviar in the world; local roe often tops such dishes as lovage waffles or potatoes slow-cooked in pork fat. Other ingredients are more expected: Bison is the red meat of choice here, sourced from the Comanche Buffalo Company in nearby Lawton. Depending on the day, preparations might range from hot sauce–glazed prairie oyster tempura to a tartare served on a lard sablé biscuit with fermented strawberries.
As the chefs see it, they’re not doing anything special. “Cooking with ingredients that are around you is a timeless tradition,” Wolfe says. “We like to showcase all the beauty that’s around us in Oklahoma.”