FOOD: District 21 Restaurant at Francis Tuttle

Written by Laura Beam in the August 2013 Issue

District 21Whatever your passion for food—the art of preparing it, the joy of consuming it or the guilty pleasure of watching its drama unfold on reality TV cooking shows—being a foodie is fashionable! Even for those whose most beloved kitchen appliance is a microwave, the fascination of braising and brining, and the feverish tempo and high expectations in today’s restaurant kitchens spark great allure.

In one magnificent new forum in north Oklahoma City, the grind and the glamour of today’s celebrated gourmet culture come to life for both students and diners. Spanning a breathtaking 31,000 square feet of exquisite form and function, Francis Tuttle’s newly expanded School of Culinary Arts answers the growing demand for top-tier career training in the food service and hospitality industry. Indeed, this grand hub is leading the renaissance with a world-class curriculum and environment unparalleled in the region.

Equipped with nine teaching kitchens, a demonstration kitchen with video production capabilities, state-of-the-art cooking suites and a pastry, baking and chocolate lab—where you wish you could hang out with no one looking—each area gleams with stainless steel perfection. In one kitchen, a vat the size of a hot tub simmers with luscious veal stock. Beyond another door, the aroma of freshly baked bread or smoked meat fills the air, taking your senses on a delicious journey with each new discovery of this high-tech wonderland.

As Culinary Arts Director Marc Dunham notes, “This facility needs to be celebrated by everyone in the state.” And for those of us wanting a taste of the excitement, three amazing eateries give us ample reason to do just that. If ever there was a place where you could be sure every dish was finessed to the highest standards, this is it. Food is prepared under a chef’s direction, with students carefully attending to the details.

Just inside the main entrance at District 21, a massive auditorium-style hall referred to as “Main Street,” with soaring ceilings and elegant seating nooks, winds past Cravings Bakery. Breads, pastries, desserts and baked goodies galore are prepared with the expertise of a French chef. The phenomenal breads alone are worth a stop and the prices are amazing.

DessertBeyond the bakery is Tut’s Café, a spacious food court featuring lunch favorites served cafeteria-style. The salads, tacos, pizza and daily “Purple Plate” specials, again speak to the incredible quality and variety coming out of these teaching kitchens. The massive dining area is surrounded with windows for great views.

The crown jewel in this trifecta of culinary pleasures is District 21, a truly exceptional evening dining experience. With the sophisti-cation of a posh metropolitan restaurant, minus the stuffy disposition, Chef Carlos Martinez and a staff of attentive students delight you with a four-course meal to remember. Diners relish the fabulous learning experience themselves, in an easy, questions-welcomed environment.

An ever-changing selection of appetizers, entrées, sides and desserts showcases incredible sauces and flavor combinations. The charcuterie appetizer platter featuring cured meats, gourmet cheese and olives with Crostini and mustard is not to be missed. And like everything on the menu, it’s even better when shared!

District 21 will re-open August 13th in conjunction with the school semester. Call ahead for dinner hours and reservations at 405-717-7700. Located at Francis Tuttle Technology Center, 12777 N. Rockwell Ave., OKC. Visit francistuttle.edu/district21 for details.

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