Choctaw Casino & Resort-Pocola welcomes tribal member as executive chef

Wednesday, 21 June 2023 18:18

Choctaw Casino & Resort-Pocola welcomes tribal member as executive chef Featured

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Executive Chef Byron Wilson Executive Chef Byron Wilson Photo Submitted

Chef will bring international flavors, experience to Pocola


POCOLA, Okla. (June 21, 2023) - Executive Chef Byron Wilson remembers the sounds and smells of his grandmother’s kitchen in Elmore City, Oklahoma vividly.

It was in that kitchen, watching his grandma bring food to life before his young eyes, that Wilson developed a love and respect for food and the way it touches people. He watched as she used the ingredients she had access to and crafted meals that felt like they were feeding the soul, not just the stomach.

Now, Wilson is doing the same. As the new executive chef overseeing all food & beverage at Choctaw Casino & Resort-Pocola, Wilson spends his nights catering to hundreds of guests with the same love and passion his grandmother cooked with.

“I love watching people eat and enjoy something I’ve made,” Wilson said.

Wilson knows firsthand the significance food can play in someone’s life, and the fact that he gets to share that experience with others in southeast Oklahoma and Fort Smith, Arkansas makes it even more special. After visiting as a child, the native Californian grew to appreciate the peace and natural beauty of his family’s homeland. For what feels like the first time in his life, Wilson is getting a chance to tap into and learn about his Choctaw heritage. Oklahoma now feels like home.

“I love the feeling of freedom here. I love the simplicity of it,” Wilson said. “You work so much as a chef, but it’s worth it when you get to leave and go hunt and fish. You can smell the fresh air, see farmland and trees everywhere. It’s so peaceful.”

Before Wilson came to Oklahoma, he spent years preparing for a moment like this. Wilson trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York before going on to work for Marriott, Hilton and Hotel Del Coronado in California.

Wilson’s food is greatly influenced by his hometown of San Diego, California, where there was a melting pot of cultures and cuisines for a burgeoning foodie to experiment with. At Choctaw Casino & Resort-Pocola, he would like to put his background to use and add international flair to traditional American dishes.

“Get ready to experience a world’s worth of cuisine,” Wilson said. “I would like to share flavor’s from around the world in Pocola because flavor and food are the deepest connections between cultures.”

He’s currently working on a menu refresh that will include a kalua pig slider with burnt pineapple aioli, which is a testament to his modern approach to barbeque.

If you want to experience Wilson’s creative touch in a laid-back setting, you can visit Trophy’s Bar & Grill from 8 a.m.-midnight Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Seven Ponies offers a fine dining experience, serving a steakhouse-style menu, from 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Thursday and Sunday and 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday. To make a reservation, call 580-898-3609.

About Choctaw Casino & Resort in Pocola

Choctaw Casino & Resort in Pocola, Okla. is a one-stop entertainment destination that offers distinguished amenities, premier dining and gaming throughout the Fort Smith metro area. The property features a spacious casino floor, oversized rooms, a lounge, more than 7,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and a variety of on-site restaurants. For more information, visit



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