The Oklahoma landscape is plagued by an array of invasive species of flora and fauna, from dandelions and Bradford pear trees to feral hogs and zebra mussels.

The Nature Conservancy has come up with a unique way to attack these renegades — have them for dinner.

Nine area chefs have been given the challenge of turning native and invasive species into tempting dishes for “Malicious But Delicious,” a special fundraising dinner for the Nature Conservancy to be held 7 p.m. Thursday, July 25, at the Mansion at Woodward Park, 2435 S. Peoria Ave.

Participating chefs are Preston Stevens of Roosevelt’s Gastropub; Randy and Claudia Imel of Five Oaks Lodge; Alfredo Zuniga of Vista at the Boathouse in the Gathering Place; Justin Thompson and Roque Heidler of Justin Thompson Catering; Kevin Kihle of Prospect Local Bar & Kitchen; Albert “Nook” Ducre of Copper Restaurant & Bar at the Price Tower in Bartlesville; and Tiffany Taylor of Counter Culture Cuisine.

Heirloom Rustic Ales will also have two unique creations at the event.

“We love that this event celebrates food and beverage that articulates local produce and agriculture, and we’re excited to pour some of our more philosophical forward offerings for such a good cause,” said Jake Miller, brewer at Heirloom Rustic Ales. “For this event, we’ve brewed two beers: ‘Liminal Space’ which is a table beer brewed with mulberries, a native berry that can be seen all over Tulsa, and ‘Plague Doctor’ which is a French country ale brewed with sassafras, birchbark leaf, and the invasive species dandelion.”

In some cases, chefs will use similar ingredients to mirror some invasive species. Chef Ducre chose the invasive species feral hog to mimic in his smoked braised pork shoulder, along with cornbread gnocchi, chanterelle mushrooms, collard greens and ramp vinegar.

Chef Stevens, on the other hand, will give a nod to invasive pear trees such as the Bradford and Callery by including pears roasted with shallots and red wine vinegar in his dish featuring confit duck, local goat cheese, and lavender-infused honey on a house-made brioche crustini.

Grammy Award nominee John Fullbright will provide the evening’s entertainment.

Tickets are $125 and seating is limited.

To purchase tickets and for more information: nature.org/oklahoma.


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James D. Watts Jr.

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Scene Writer

James writes primarily about the visual, performing and literary arts. Phone: 918-581-8478