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A taste of the finest

The Distinguished Chef Event is celebrating its 30th year in providing a unique dining experience that is not found elsewhere in Oklahoma.
Patrons can support our students as they work side-by-side with world-class chefs to produce an evening of hospitality at its finest, while being the beneficiaries of an outstanding meal, great wine from the best vineyards and vintners and a beautiful setting with wonderful ambiance. A portion of the proceeds go to students scholarships.

2021-22 events


Chef Olivier Gaupin

September 22-23, 2021


Chef Robert Witte

November 10-11, 2021

Chef Darren McGrady

February 9-10, 2022


Chef Irad Santacruz Arciniega

April 20-21, 2022

Meet the chefs

Chef Olivier Gaupin

 Director of Culinary Operations | Benchmark Global Hospitality Co.

A native of Orléans, France, with more than 30 years of kitchen experience, Chef Olivier Gaupin is director of culinary operations for BENCHMARK, a global hospitality company. He is a graduate of the CFA Charles Peguy School and La Fortune Du Pot, both in Orléans.

Gaupin’s career includes positions as chef de partie of the Michelin-rated Hotel Negresco in Nice, France, head chef for the French Minister of Defense in Paris, and chef de partie of the Hotel Stuva Colani in St. Moritz, Switzerland. In the U.S., Gaupin has led kitchens in restaurants and hotels including Provence Restaurant in Washington, D.C., Pfister Hotel Milwaukee, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Atlanta, and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, St. Louis. Before joining BENCHMARK in 2019, Gaupin served as corporate chef for Loews Hotels. In 2013, Gaupin was inducted into the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France (Master Chefs of France) and is one of only 84 chefs in the U.S. honored with the designation.

Chef Robert Witte

Master Technical Instructor and Food Service Coordinator | Navajo Technical University

Chef Robert Witte started as a line cook at Denny’s diner at the age of 13 and has worked in the food industry ever since. Witte joined the Navy Submarine Service at 17 years old and was able to continue his passion for cooking while serving.

While working at the Hyatt Regency in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Witte catered for The Police, The Cars, Melissa Etheridge and many other famous acts. His favorite backstage catering was for Van Halen where he became famous for not separating David Lee Roth’s M&Ms. Shortly after, Roth put in the band’s rider to take out all the brown M&Ms.

Witte is now a Master Technical Instructor and the Food Service Coordinator at Navajo Technical University. He has a passion for being an instructor to introduce Navajo students to the world of food. Witte has built the culinary and baking programs up to over 157 students at its peak. The programs are accredited through the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation.

Chef Darren McGrady

 The Royal Chef | Owner/Author 'Eating Royally'

Darren McGrady was chef to Queen Elizabeth II and Diana, Princess of Wales, and her sons William and Harry, and has cooked for U.S. presidents. He is the owner of Eating Royally Catering in Dallas where he is an author, culinary consultant, event planner and a public speaker.

McGrady trained at The Savoy Hotel in London before moving to Buckingham Palace where, for 11 years, he cooked for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and their guests, including foreign heads of state such as U.S. presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush and Clinton. In 1993 he became private chef for Princess Diana. In 1998, McGrady moved to the U.S. and became the first private chef invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York. He is the author of two cookbooks, Eating Royally: Recipes & Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen and The Royal Chef at Home: Easy Seasonal Entertaining.

Chef Irad Santacruz Arciniega

 Chef/Gastronomic Researcher | University of Puebla, Mexico

A member of the international Slow Food movement, Chef Irad Santacruz Arciniega is dedicated to promoting and documenting Tlaxcalteca cuisine from central Mexico. Known for working closely with local farmers in his native state of Tlaxcala, Santacruz collects and preserves examples of traditional food ingredients, including documenting more than 120 varieties of colored maize. In 2016, he was named Ambassador of the Tlaxcalteca Kitchen by the Congress of Tlaxcala and is well known on Mexican radio for programs highlighting the nation’s agricultural products and traditional foods.

Santacruz and Chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita have spent a decade researching and writing the Great Gastronomic Encyclopedia of the State of Tlaxcala and Santacruz regularly participates in scholarly programs at the National School of Anthropology and History. He often visits Europe demonstrating Tlaxcalteca cuisine to promote tourism and trade with Mexico and was a featured chef on the Netflix series, “The Chronicles of the Taco.” He is professor of Mexican cuisine and member of the Outreach Council of the School of Gastronomy at UPAEP University.

Tradition at its best

The Distinguished Chef Series Scholarship Benefit began in 1990 and has since hosted chefs from all over the world. Four times a year, chefs travel to OSU to share their culinary knowledge for one week with HTM students. This student-led scholarship benefit is planned and orchestrated by HTM students who gain valuable leadership skills.
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