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Oklahoma Restaurant Association - Event Information

Event Name:ORA Academy
Event Type(s):Event
Description:The goal of the Academy is to offer continuing education and professional development to particular demographics of ORA’s membership. In 2016, the Academy focused on Culinary education. In 2017, we will add a Management/Front-of-the-House morning track, as well.

The Academy will consist of four 1/2 day sessions, in each track, held quarterly. At the end of the year, if a student has attended all 4 sessions in their area, they will be awarded an ORA Academy “Certificate of Knowledge” and be recognized in the Oklahoma Restaurateur magazine. 

All 2017 sessions will be held at Francis-Tuttle Technology Center on Rockwell Avenue in Oklahoma City (follow signs to the Culinary Arts Building located on the West side of the campus). Management sessions will be from 9-12 and Culinary sessions will be from 1-4 pm. 
Event Date:02-22-17
Event Time:09:00 AM - 04:00 PM Central
Location:Francis Tuttle Technology Center
12777 N. Rockwell Avenue
Oklahoma City, Ok 73142

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Session I
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
  • Morning FOH: 9am - 12pm
    Topic: “Customer Service: How to Make Em’ Happy”
    Instructor: Maggie Howell, Aunt Pittypat's Catering
  • Afternoon BOH: 1pm - 4pm
    Topic: “Modern Culinary Techniques: Keeping Up With The Times”
    Instructor: Chef Bill Leib, Francis Tuttle Technology Center
Session II
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
  • Morning FOH: 9am - 12pm
    Topic: "Generational Hospitality"
    Instructor: Dar Yasseri and David Davis, OSU School of Hospitality & Tourism Management
  • Afternoon BOH: 1pm - 4pm
    Topic: “World of Flavor:  Understanding Global Flavor Profiles and Applications”
    Instructor: Chef Tiffany Poe, OSU School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration
Session III
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
  • Morning FOH: 9am - 12pm
    Topic: "The Hal Smith Way: Management & Leadership Skills"
    Instructor: Hank Kraft, Hal Smith Restaurants
    The morning session will be held in room D1870, located in the Corporate Training building. Attendees are advised to park in front of the Corporate Training building or in front of the NW Hall.
  • Afternoon BOH: 1pm - 4pm
    Topic: “Discovering Ancient Grains and Legumes: Recipe Diversity and Menu Applications”
    Instructors: Chef Chris McCabe, A Good Egg Dining Group; Chef Tiffany Poe, OSU School of Hospitality & Tourism Management
Session IV
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
  • Morning FOH: 9am - 12pm
    Topic: "Hiring and Firing and Everything In Between"
    Instructor: Kim Thompson, Arby's/US Beef
  • Afternoon BOH: 1pm - 4pm
    Topic: "Where's The Beef? From Genetics to the Plate and The Points In Between"
    Instructors: Chef Rob Johnson, US Foods; Chef Elizabeth Howe; COP Mary Hunt


Single Sessions
  • $50 per 1/2 day session, or 
  • $80 per full day (morning FOH and afternoon BOH) - bundled savings of $20/person!

Full Packages
  • $175 for all 4 morning (FOH) sessions
  • $175 for all 4 afternoon (BOH) sessions, or
  • $250 all 8 sessions (ALL morning FOH and afternoon BOH sessions) - bundled savings of $100/person!
*Registration is non-refundable. May be transferable, but student will not be eligible for ORA Academy “Certificate of Knowledge.” Academy classes are limited to 40 students.


Dar Yasseri and David W. Davis
OSU School of Hospitality & Tourism Management
Dar Yasseri and David W. Davis are both active faculty members of Oklahoma State University’s School of Hospitality & Tourism Management and are a part of the executive team reporting to the School’s Director. Additionally, both Mr. Yasseri and Mr. Davis have diverse and successful hospitality industry (operational and strategic) experience and accolades, along with formal higher educational degrees and certifications in the hospitality industry and adult education. Mr. Yasseri and Mr. Davis subscribe to the ethical guidelines of ISPI and the Academy of Human Resource Development. They recognize that training and non-training solutions can contribute to improved performance. Furthermore, they value participation in the needs assessment by all those who may be affected by the solutions.

Maggie Howell
Owner, President & CFO of Aunt Pittypat’s Catering 

Born & raised in Oklahoma City, Maggie Howell started her career in the hospitality business at a young age. Daughter of Robert Howell, the original Regional General Manager for all 5 Steak & Ale properties in OKC in the late 70’s & early 80’s, it was in her blood! Mr. Howell bought Aunt Pittypat’s Catering in 1986 & although Maggie worked with her dad when requested, from the age of 15 she held jobs outside of the family business all in the restaurant field. 

In 1995 she moved to Chicago & immediately went to work at the famous Bistro 110 off of Michigan Avenue. She bartended, waited tables, and worked as the point host for the bustling 200 seat bistro. Within a year she was offered a position in the Keys to the Future Management Program with Bistro 110 owner, Levy Restaurants. She graduated from this program at the top of her class. This led to positions within the group of restaurants managing & training office personnel – which turned out to be a specialty in the numbers end of the business! She also coordinated orientations for new restaurant employees for all 17 Levy restaurant Chicago locations. 

In 1997 she was offered her first General Manager position at the age of 25. She went on to hold positions at Privately Held, Chicago, Illinois; Tuscan Square, Manhattan, New York; Scoozi!, Chicago, Illinois; and OKC Renaissance Hotel, OKC, Oklahoma.

In 2004 Maggie and Chef Christine Dowd bought Howell’s father’s very successful catering company Aunt Pittypat’s Catering. One year later they opened Trattoria il Centro in downtown Oklahoma City. The restaurant thrived to great acclaim until overwhelming downtown construction projects caused the business to shut its doors. 

Howell and Chef Dowd continue to raise the bar for off-premise culinary events in the state through Aunt Pittypat’s Catering. 

Maggie has served on the board of directors of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association since 2007. She currently also serves on the Executive Board as Vice Chair/Treasurer. In 2017 she will assume the position of Chair of the Board. 

Chef Rob Johnson
US Foods

After gaining invaluable experience through key culinary positions, including executive chef at a top country club and hotel in Austin, Texas, Rob Johnson started a catering company specializing in the Southern-style dishes, which gained a beloved following. Formally trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Austin Texas, Johnson bridges his love for Southwestern cuisine with inspiration from travels to Germany, France, Austria and the Middle East while serving in the Army. He is currently holds the position of  Food Fanatic Chef / Division Executive Chef with US Foods Oklahoma since 2006. See more.

Hank Kraft
Hal Smith Restaurants

Hank Kraft is the COO for Hal Smith Restaurants, which was founded in 1992 by its namesake, Hal W. Smith, and manages over 60 restaurant locations in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, and Nebraska.

Operating 14 different restaurant concepts, the company has over 6,000 employees and its restaurants vary from high-end steakhouses to burger joints, Mexican and seafood restaurants. With headquarters in Norman, Oklahoma, some of its recognizable restaurant brands include Charleston’s, Louie's, Mahogany, Redrock Canyon Grill, The Garage, and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill.

Chef Bill Leib
Francis Tuttle Technology Center
Bill Leib was born and raised in Mechanicsburg, PA. He started pursuing his passion for this business at a young age, taking cooking classes when he was 12. During his high school years he worked for “Pleasures of the Palate Catering,” the largest catering business in the state of Pennsylvania. He graduated from Johnson & Wales University in 2002 and trained at Hotel Hershey while in school. He started his own catering business serving the central PA area, then he helped open the National Military Park and Museum in Gettysburg, PA, managing its catering program. From there, he went on to be catering director at Shippensburg University, and then production manager at the campus’ largest dining hall, serving close to 4,000 meals a day. While at OSU-IT Bill developed the modern cuisine program as well as redesigned the international cuisine class. He is currently an instructor at Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City. He has worked with and trained under some of the best chefs in the country in places like Providence, RI; New York City; Baltimore, MD; Napa and San Francisco, CA; and Chicago, IL. Bill is a member of the American Culinary Federation Oklahoma City Chapter Board of Directors and continually helps with the state ProStart competition by judging and bringing student volunteers to help.

Chris McCabe
A Good Egg Dining Group

Chris McCabe was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He began his career in a bagel store at the age of 15 as a stock boy and later, part time as baker maker. After graduating high school, he attended SUNY Cobleskill for Culinary Arts.  An internship brought him to Ithaca, New York where he worked under Italian Chef Giovanni Fresia and French Chef Etienne Merle.

Chris worked as Executive Sous Chef at The Water Club and One if by Land, Two if by Sea in Manhattan before relocating to Oklahoma City.

In Oklahoma City, Chris teamed up with Robert Black to open The Museum Café in 2002 before doing short stints as Executive Chef at The Renaissance Hotel and Cascata Restaurant. Robert and Chris’ paths crossed again at Good Egg Dining Group, where Chris served as Executive Chef, and is now Culinary Director of Training & Development for the entire group.

Chris’ broad influences can be seen in A Good Egg’s many different concepts, including Red Prime Steakhouse, Republic GastroPub and Kitchen no. 324.

Chef Tiffany Poe
OSU School of Hospitality & Tourism Management
Chef Poe has been sharing her passion for food and culinary education for more than a decade. She is a certified executive chef and an honors graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N. Y. and Oklahoma State University.

She is also a recent graduate of LeCordon Bleu Australia and received a master’s in gastronomic tourism from Southern Cross University. In 2013 and 2015 she was a finalist for the Women Who Inspire Award from the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs. She is a James Beard and International Association of Culinary Professionals Scholar. She enjoys blending her experiences from the hospitality education and corporate worlds into the teaching, training and coaching style which she will now share with students. Poe is the clinical professor for food studies and responsible for managing all aspects of Taylor’s Restaurant and operations for the department.   In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she is in charge of the Distinguished Chef Benefit Scholarship Series and the Culinary Chair for the Wine Forum of Oklahoma.

“As an alum and fan, I am incredibly humbled, grateful and enthusiastic to share my passion for food and people with the students and culture at OkState!” Poe said.

She is the owner of Tiffany Poe Culinary Services, a consulting, food styling and corporate coaching company. Her clients include national food media companies, education institutions and corporate hospitality and industry teams. Poe and her husband, Steven, are the owners/innkeepers at The Grandview Inn, a historic bed and breakfast near the Tall-Grass Prairie in Osage County, Okla.

She is also the senior chef consultant for the Oklahoma Department of Education/Oklahoma State initiative project “Cooking for Kids”.  Poe enjoys cooking with her four children and teaching them about nutrition and life through the eyes of food.

Kim Thompson
Vice President - Human Resources and Risk, United States Beef Corporation dba Arby’s

Kim began her career with United States Beef Corporation in 2005.  As the Vice President of Human Resources and Risk for over 7,500 restaurant employees, her role is key to one of the largest Arby’s franchisee’s in the United States.  Kim’s responsibilities include, human resources, recruiting, workers compensation, general liability, benefit, employment lawsuits and other risks that face the company as whole. 

Prior to 2005, Kim began her career in the insurance industry  with Prudential where she worked for over 10 years with individuals and small employer groups in Tulsa.  In 1995 she took a position in Dallas with Lockton as a consultant/broker, working with large employer groups, she returned to Tulsa in 1999 as the Senior Vice President of Marsh & McClennan where she consulted for  large multi-state clients on health, welfare, casualty, EEOC  and risk. 

Kim’s expertise spans from human resources, recruiting, employer welfare plans, property, general liability, casualty, EEOC discrimination charges and employment lawsuits.  

Kim currently teachs Labor Law  classes throughout the year to hundreds of restaurant managers spanning over 8 states.
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