Alma: Fine Dining Goes to the Country

Last Updated: June 12, 2024By

Alma, the new concept from James Beard Award nominee Chef Zach Hutton and Kayla Shenold, is tentatively scheduled to open June 21. Hutton and owner Trent Ward announced recently that GHST, their first restaurant collaboration, will close June 1 as they prepare to launch the upscale casual (with elements of fine dining) Alma. Named for Hutton’s maternal grandmother and located in the Ludivine 2.0 spot on NW 10th adjacent to R&J Lounge, Alma will highlight the chef’s commitment to local sourcing, an ethos that garnered him a James Beard nomination when he and Shenold owned Scratch – Paseo. 

“We’re going back to local again,” Hutton said. “We won’t do everything we did at Scratch; we have to make sure the model is economically sustainable while it celebrates local producers and sustainable farming and sourcing. It’s going to be very much who I am, nothing more.”

Hutton is referring to his upbringing in southwestern Oklahoma, including time in his family’s garden. The family ate game, fresh produce, and fish caught in nearby lakes and ponds. The “Mema” tattoo on the back of his neck is an homage to Alma Dorrell nee Robinson, who died in 2012. The Mountain View native eventually moved to Mustang, where she grew up.

“She still has the state high school record for most points in a girls basketball game,” Hutton said. “She taught me to garden, crochet, and can. I learned to make chow-chow and how to organize a fish fry with her.”

It was in these moments that he learned about being connected to the source of their food, whether gardening, fishing, preserving, or foraging. He is a product of Oklahoma throughout, and his food reflects that. He assumed responsibilities at GHST after he and Shenold were forced to close Scratch, another victim in the post-pandemic downturn and soaring prices that have affected all restaurants.

Alma will feature in-house dry-aging and curing programs, and they will work with local producers like the Center of Family Love, Prairie Earth Gardens, the Central Food Hub, and J.B. Pratt’s Wellness Connection. 

Alma Dorrell


“We’ll have dry-aged beef and bison,” Hutton said. “We’ll source as much from Oklahoma as possible, but we’ll also have oysters – everyone seems to want them – as well as fish like snapper and sole that we’ll obviously need to source elsewhere.”


Chef Olivier Rey, a French-trained pastry chef known for Les Délices, will handle the baking program, and Shenold will oversee the bar program. The taps will feature Lively Beerworks, and one Old Fashioned utilizing whiskey from Guthrie-based Wanderfolk Spirits. 

If forced to categorize the food, something most chefs hate being forced to do, Hutton said he’d say Alma will be shaped by “French and modern American techniques to highlight regionally specific food, including dishes that rely on fermentation, dehydration and preservation as additional cooking techniques.” And now you know why they hate trying to pigeonhole their food in a single, simple genre. But again, when forced to, he sighs and says, “Haute cuisine?”


It doesn’t matter what we call it; it’s going to be stellar because we’ve already seen what he can do when given the freedom to create. He has a knack for playful seriousness. At GHST you could tell he was having fun. How else do you make the best donut in OKC to riff on chicken ‘n’ waffles? At Scratch, his serious commitment to agricultural sustainability was on full display, and the food was country and comforting but damn serious. Alma will be the combining of those two forms into a style he seems shaped from childhood to cook. 

Yes, there will be a burger. The burgers he made locally famous at Scratch and GHST will have one with a strong family resemblance on the lunch and brunch menus, a different one for each menu. Dinner focus is fine dining, but there will be a separate menu for the bar and patio during dinner service, which will only take place in the main dining area around the open kitchen. The bar menu will be in effect from 3 – 5 p.m. on days when the restaurant is open, too, so there will be food available while the kitchen resets for dinner.

Brunch will be served Saturday and Sunday, and while it will feature what Hutton calls country and French dishes, he has also created an affogato French toast that is likely to be the showstopper. It will be served with pistachio gelato. You’ll find crepes and biscuits & gravy on the brunch menu too. Alma will be closed Sunday evening and all day Monday. Dinner service is Tuesday – Saturday, 5 – 11 p.m.

Hutton said the lunch menu will be competitive price-wise with neighboring concepts, and the quality will, of course, be what we’ve come to expect from a chef of his remarkable talents. To help, he’s brought in some emerging rockstars, including Chefs Ivan Norwood, Bearen Araujo and Tim Scarberry. To kick things off, Alma will host its first wine dinner with local wine rep and Renaissance gentleman Ian Clarke, who will be launching Unico Zelo, a new brand from Revolution Syndicat and Revolution Wholesale.

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