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Chow chat

Carol Smaglinski April 13th, 2011

Ahmad Farnia is the general manager of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s Museum Cafe, 415 Couch. Farnia also teaches classes in Norman at the International Pantry.

Favorite indulgence? “Traveling. My wife, Ozzie, and I have been traveling lots. We have been to Europe and saw the South of France, Paris and Italy, and Stuttgart, Germany.”

Children? “Daughter, Nina, who is a lawyer and graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and a son, Navid, at Columbia University in the city of New York.”

How did you break into the food business? “I started out as a line cook at the Hilton Inn West in 1976 and 1977 and then at Butterfield’s Pantry on 63rd and Portland and went back home to Tehran in Iran.”

But you came back? “I got married there and came back after the revolution there and worked at Nathan’s, River City and Tommy’s in Edmond.”

When did you start at the Museum Cafe? “In 2003, and I am very happy there.”

What do you tell your 38 employees? “I tell them to pay attention to what they are doing. Listen and do it right. Get organized first.”

Favorite kitchen equipment: “My immersion mixer.”

Best meal ever? “We were in Parma, Italy, in a mom-and-pop restaurant. I had a delicious bone-in rib-eye with a lemon sauce. And no, I did not tell them that I was a chef.”

Still get involved with menu changes? “Yes, I work with our executive chef Gayland Toriello on the menus.”

Favorite food? “Everything! Eating is my hobby, and (I) especially like French and Italian — Mediterranean food. I love food. I’m always doing research.”


Two local restaurants recently shuttered their doors. Sadly, the Adobe Grill, 5120 N. Shartel, has closed, meaning we won’t get to see the artistic decor anymore. Midtown Deli, 1215 N. Walker, closed after the new year. The space has now been converted into another Louie’s Grill & Bar.


The first Oklahoma City Saltgrass Steak House opened recently. This newest location, 1445 W. Interstate 240 Service Road, is the company’s 45th and joins another location in Norman, 650 N. Interstate Drive.

The restaurants, resembling authentic Texas steakhouses with rustic decor, are known for its Certified Angus beef steaks, barbecue baby back ribs and rib-eye. Open daily, Saltgrass makes all the breads, dressings and soups from scratch, and all of those steaks are char-grilled on an open flame, “Saltgrass style.”


On March 28, Platt College culinary students took part in the International Student Awareness Day at the Oklahoma Capitol.

More than 500 international students, representing 79 countries, came to the Capitol for the event that featured entertainment, booths and international cuisine.

Students from Chef Patrick Morris’ garde manger class prepared hors d’oeuvres for the event, including chicken roulade with citrus aioli and mozzarella pinwheel with basil and prosciutto. On hand at the Capitol to serve the international students and Oklahoma lawmakers were chefs Dale Tanner, Mark Cochran and Renato Colmenares.


Where do you stop for a fresh-fruit smoothie or other healthy drink? That’s the question we asked on Oklahoma Gazette’s Facebook page. Here are your answers, verbatim.

“105 Degrees. Of all the foods that you should make sure are ORGANIC fruit is number one on the list. Eating smoothies b/c they are *healthy*, and then eating conventionally grown fruits defeats the purpose.” —Lori Theis

“Health Food Center or Crave” —Jennifer Barron

“Earth in Norman” —Michael Millett

“lees sandwiches” —Warren Potter Allen IV

“105 degrees!!! Fresh and amazing!” —Natalie Mason Wheeler

“105 Degrees and Jamba Juice!” —Amanda Gossett Bleakley

“Sno-Boba! :o)” —Diana Cavener

“Beat Nix Cafe” —Kyle Golding

“Health food center, the earth cafe and 105” —Alisha Humphrey

“Either Crave or First Edition, both in Downtown OKC.” —Aarann Kincheloe

—Carol Smaglinski

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