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Once and Future Cuisine
Illustration by JJ Ritchey
Chef Andon Whitehorn, former member of the culinary duo behind Nani, currently is cooking up his next project.
By Becky Carman
Published July/August 2016
Despite years in restaurant kitchens, it was Andon Whitehorn’s extracurricular research that led him to start the Nani pop-up series with Colin Stringer. Those dinners evolved into a reservation-only supper club that ran through May 2015.
Whitehorn’s intensive study of sushi techniques gave him the idea for Nani, which means both “fish” in Choctaw—which some of his ancestors spoke—and “what?” in Japanese. The similarities between Japanese and Native cuisines—seasonality, sustainability, and preservation techniques—acted as the foundation. The menus changed nightly but maintained an emphasis on hyper-local and seasonal food, a Nordic style of culinary thinking recently popularized by chef René Redzepi’s Copenhagen restaurant Noma.
“When you eat this way, you’re doing much more,” Whitehorn says. “You’re eating off and of the land, with the seasons, and learning how to capture the essence of an ingredient at its absolute best and transition that into a time when it might otherwise be unavailable.”
Since Nani closed, Whitehorn has continued working in Oklahoma kitchens. He’s slinging drinks at O Bar at the Ambassador Hotel, learning about spirits while studying for his level one sommelier certification. Whitehorn also has been curating occasional pop-up dinners and will run the kitchen at White Oak, an American whiskey bar that is slated to open in Midtown Oklahoma City at the end of 2016.