Cooking up success: ArkLaTex chef returns home with big plans

Cooking up success: ArkLaTex chef returns home with big plans
Published: Feb. 26, 2016 at 2:37 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 26, 2016 at 3:19 AM CST
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Moon Tower Bar and Grill (Source: Doug Warner/KSLA News 12)
Moon Tower Bar and Grill (Source: Doug Warner/KSLA News 12)

MCCURTAIN COUNTY, OK (KSLA) - It goes to reason for any restaurant owner, the sweet sound of success is the rhythmic cadence of orders going out.

"Pick up a deviled-egg," kindly barks Tabb Singleton of the Moon Tower Bar and Grill in Hochatown, OK. It's one of about 3 dozen calls for food we heard in the two hours we spent in the newest restaurant in the Beavers Bend recreation area.

"I was born and raised in Idabel, about 30 minutes away," explains Tabb, noting how his life-long love of cooking has nearly come full circle.

"For giggles, I was going to send out resumes, just to see," remembers Tabb after working at various restaurants in McCurtain County and other parts of Oklahoma.

He says he was almost immediately offered two jobs, one of those with one of Emeril Lagasse's restaurants in New Orleans. He didn't take the job, but stayed in touch with management there.

"I had never been to Louisiana, except to Shreveport a couple of times," adds Tabb.

A couple of years later, Tabb says he finally accepted an offer to work at Emeril's NOLA Restaurant in New Orleans.

"I was going to move to New Orleans the second I stepped in the front door and saw the place."

Through the years, Tabb would move up from line cook to executive sous chef. And one night while working the kitchen, he says fate was seated at a table not far from where he was calling out food orders.

"This one time," Tabb recalls, "there was this Food Network reps that were in there and ate at the chef's table."

Before the night was over, Tabb says the Food Network offered him a chance to compete on their reality competition show, "Chopped".

He earned his way onto the show, competing against three other chefs. By the time the nationally broadcasted show was over, Tabb had won the competition and $10,000.

After his successes in New Orleans, Tabb eventually decided he wanted to come home again.

"I knew I wanted to come back to Idabel."

However after opening his first restaurant in downtown Idabel, he says the venture didn't pan out like he had hoped.

"I just couldn't get a calling in my hometown," he explains, citing his menu and flare for food wasn't an ideal match for many McCurtain County locals.

But opportunity came knocking again. Along with a partner, Tabb opened the Moon Tower Bar and Grill in the Beavers Bend State Park area.

"Here you've got a lot of tourists from Texas, Arkansas, Dallas and Oklahoma City that have seen this type of food and they're up on trends," says Tabb.

He explains, his food isn't all high-end taste bud type stuff.

"My type of food that I'd like to think I'm doing, I call it contemporary redneck cuisine."

And in this tourist town, Tabb's menu and the visiting taste buds, so far, have been a perfect match.

"It's self gratification to know all the hard work you put in, finally to see it grow in a way you hoped it would grow."

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