A guest chef with local ties will be featured at a downtown Norman restaurant for a two-night event featuring appetizers, entrees, desserts and cocktails with southern Louisiana flavor.
Scratch Kitchen and Cocktails will feature Chef Coleman Jernigan, who has been cultivating his craft in the southeastern part of the country for over a decade, on Thursday and Friday evening for a special NOLA Nights event. His designations include high praise from national food critic Tom Fitzmorris, and Jernigan was the winner of InWeekly’s Emerald Coast - Best New Restaurant of 2019, according to Scratch’s Facebook page.
“Thursday night is 100% his menu, and we aren’t going to serve anything else. It will be an all Cajun inspired menu,” said Brady Sexton, owner of Scratch Kitchen and Cocktails.
Jernigan grew up on the east side of Norman, and his mom was a teacher in the Norman Public School System. He went to Jefferson, Lincoln then Adams elementary before attending Irving Middle School and then Norman High School, where he played golf. His first job was at Charlestons on Ed Noble Parkway.
Sexton said Jernigan was close friends with his youngest brother Brent, so they knew each other from the neighborhood. A few years ago, Sexton said his best friend from high school got married in New Orleans and he called Jernigan because he had a bakery in town called Manhattan Jacks.
“I knew he had cooked in restaurant kitchens, not just baked, so he did a five-course meal for us in our Airbnb that was absolutely one of the best meals of my life, and it was amazing. He knocked it out of the park,” Sexton said.
In early 2019, Jernigan became the head chef at Cypress in Pensacola, Florida, and provided an excellent dining experience, according to Sexton. Sexton said COVID-19 shuttered their business, and now Jernigan has some time off before his next culinary venture in Florida.
Jernigan said that brings him full circle back to Brady’s brother Brent, who owns restaurants in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama. Jernigan and Brent rekindled their friendship that started on their respectives streets, Schultz Road and Mockingbird Lane.
Jernigan reached out to Sexton and said he had 45 days of downtime, and Sexton wanted to see if he could coordinate a guest chef event when he came to Norman, where he hadn’t spent significant time in 10 years.
Jernigan said their schedules aligned and they were able to make it work.
“It’s exciting to me to come back (and just) come home for a bit,” Jernigan said. “I haven’t been there in a long time, and I have a nice long 15 year career path and have never cooked professionally in the state of Oklahoma.”
Sexton said the event will also feature live music from local artists Wess McMichael and Elizabeth Wise, who has played slide guitar in New Orleans. The duo will play on the patio and a speaker running into the dining room will play their set so those inside can hear it, Sexton said.
Sexton said they will also serve special cocktails, one of which is a French 75 with absinthe, which are popular in New Orleans, as well as hurricanes on special.
Capacity is limited to 50% and attendees will receive beads upon entry, Sexton said.
Sexton said they will serve southern classics like duck and andouille sausage gumbo with bacon, in addition to riffs on cajun classics with cutting edge techniques Jernigan picked up since moving from Oklahoma.
It’s a special moment, even though the event is only two days, Jernigan said.
“It’s nice to come back home and do what you do well and hopefully have some friends and family that might not normally be able to come to the Gulf Coast to be able to come out and enjoy some good food,” Jernigan said.
Sexton said reservations can be made on EatAtScratch.com or by phone at 405-801-2900.
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