New Head Chef at Bubba

Bubba general manager Kate Willer, managing partner Chris Diebel, and new executive chef Courtney Oberender. Photo: Christopher Maharry

By Wini Moranville

Changes are afoot at Bubba–Southern Comforts, Christopher Diebel‘s dashing downtown hot spot. Courtney Oberender has taken over the kitchen as executive chef.

A rising star, Oberender was named the Iowa Restaurant Association’s Chef of the Year in 2016. I tasted her work at the association’s “Culinary Affair” earlier this month. The dinner featured seven courses by seven local chefs, and Oberender’s course, the Dr Pepper-braised short ribs entree, stood its ground amid the finely tuned work of even the more experienced chefs participating that night, including Baru 66’s David Baruthio and Splash’s Dom Iannarelli.

I asked Oberender, who most recently has been head chef of Gateway Market, what changes she had in mind for Bubba’s kitchen. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with our sous-chefs on seasonal menus,” she said. “[We] have been reaching out to local farmers to obtain their produce calendars, and we intend to include these ingredients whenever we can during the growing season.”

She added that while classic dishes such as fried chicken, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits will always have a home on Bubba’s menu, she hopes to add lighter fare as we head into summer.

Also expect more catering options. “Comfort food appeals to such a large audience, and a lot of our offerings travel well,” she says “We’ll be exploring drop-off catering options outside of our brick-and-mortar space. Think fried chicken picnic dinners in the summer and cozy meatloaf meals in the winter.”

Bubba–Southern Comforts is at 200 10th St.; 515-257-4744;

Wini Moranville covers food and dining for dsm. Follow her at All Things Food – DSM Wini Moranville.

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