Omaha Magazine June 2024 The Food Issue

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JUNE | U.S. $5.95 OMAHA’S ALLURING APPETIZERS • BISCUITS & BRIOCHE • DELI DIARIES • CAMILLE’S BAKERY • THE GODFATHER • OPERATION OTHERS
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board president Mark Gudgel for a glass or two and his input regarding his expertise, making for a delightful pairing with our other scrumptious stories that fill these pages.

Get ready for tingling taste buds! As you turn this page, we raise a toast to you. Bon appétit!

RealEstate Company

THE USUAL SUSPECTS

001 From the Editor Caution

004 Between the Lines

005 Calendar of Events

026 Adventure Hogan’s Hero

034 History Biscuits & Brioche

073 Obviously Omaha Food Challenges

091 Explore!

096 Not Funny WHERE DO KIDS COME FROM?

ARTS + CULTURE

012 Visual Empty Bowls

016 Theater VROOM!

020 Literacy Deli Diaries

022 Food Styling Dessie Price

PEOPLE

030 Gen O “Operation Others”

054 Profile Mark Gudgel

052 Sports Feeding Fútbol

GIVING

058 Calendar 062 Spotlight Ukrainian Church

FEATURE
036 AMUSE YOUR BOUCHE Omaha’s Alluring Appetizers 036 QR QR // 2 // JUNE 2024
TABLE of CONTENTS

Listen to the entire

Open the camera on your smart device and hover over the QR

It’s Omaha Magazine’s annual Food Issue! In these pages, readers will find a treasure trove of tasty tidbits and tempting morsels. Whether you’re craving an appetizer or a French baked good, you’ll find plenty to prime your palate in these pages.

Cover photography by Sarah Lemke | Cover design by Rachel Birdsall & Renee Ludwick

60PLUS 066 Active Living Reis' Bakery 068 Nostalgia Kitty Clover 070 Profile The Godfather DINING 074 Feature Little Italy 078 Profile Camille's Bakery 080 Review Memoir 083 Dining Guide QR 022 read current and previous issues online at omahamagazine.com 074
issue here.
code.
ABOUT THE COVER JUNE U.S. $5.95 OMAHA’S ALLURING APPETIZERS BISCUITS & BRIOCHE DELI DIARIES CAMILLE’S BAKERY THE GODFATHER OPERATION OTHERS 2024 JUNE 2024 // 3 //

THE LINES

Between

A LOOK AT THREE OMAHA MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTORS

GEORGE STEVENS Contributing Writer

Born in Omaha, George is the youngest of six. He graduated from University of Nebraska Omaha in the spring of 2024 with a BFA in Creative Writing concentrating on Creative Nonfiction and a minor in English. It was during his time at UNO that he started writing anything from restaurant features to coverage on supreme court decisions for Daily Record. When George isn’t sitting somewhere filling one of his four working notebooks, he can be found dancing to live music, or making art to hang on his walls. He also takes his role as the fun uncle to his seven nieces and nephews very seriously. George is currently trying to perfect his raspberry hot sauce and peach jam recipes. He dreams to find a full time writing position for a newspaper or magazine until he transitions into screenwriting. If you see him out driving, screaming along to Bad Brains or Cleo Sol feel free to sing along.

Contributing Writer

Brandi has spent four years in communication and 1.5 years in the public relations industry. Ever since she was a child, she has loved writing and storytelling, which is how she became so enthralled in the publishing industry. That interest expanded when she changed her major to Fashion Merchandising during her undergraduate career and was inspired to move to New York to study at New York University, majoring in Publishing: Digital and Print Media. Brandi’s interest in PR sparked while working and interning for print magazines. She was responsible for meeting with various PR agencies when she worked at ELLE Magazine as a Freelance Beauty, Health, and Fitness Assistant. Additionally, she was one of the first interns for OprahMag.com (now Oprah Daily) and was the byline author of several articles throughout the years.

SARAH EVE LEMKE Photo Editor

Sarah Eve Lemke is an Omaha, Nebraska, native and third generation family member of Omaha Magazine. She has contributed photography to Omaha Publications for 10 years and currently serves in her new role as photo editor. Lemke studied professional photography at Brooks Institute in Ventura, California, and the University of Nebraska Lincoln. She has spent time working in Los Angeles, California, as a first photo assistant, and second assistant director in various commercial productions. In her free time, Lemke is an avid motorcycle rider, completing solo cross-country trips every summer her favorite way to experience adventure and meditation simultaneously.

EDITORIAL

Editor-in-Chief

KIM CARPENTER

Senior Writer

JULIUS FREDRICK

Associate Editor & Staff Writer

NATALIE VELOSO

Assignment Editor & Staff Writer

CLAUDIA MOOMEY

Contributing Writers

LEO ADAM BIGA · TAMSEN BUTLER · DAISY HUTZELL-RODMAN BRANDI LONG-FRANK · CAROL NIGRELLI · HOLLY MCATEE · GEORGE STEVENS · DOUGLAS “OTIS TWELVE” WESSELMANN CREATIVE

Creative Director RACHEL BIRDSALL

Senior Graphic Designer RENEÉ

JUNE 2024 VOLUME 42 // ISSUE III
LUDWICK Graphic Designer II NICKIE ROBINSON Graphic Designer I JOEY WINTON Photo Editor SARAH LEMKE SALES DEPARTMENT
Vice President Sales & Marketing GIL COHEN Branding & Digital Specialists DAWN DENNIS · GEORGE IDELMAN GREG BRUNS · TIM McCORMACK FRANCINE
Publisher’s Assistant & OmahaHome Contributing Editor SANDY MATSON
Sales Coordinator ALICIA
Coordinator
M c
OPERATIONS
Manager KYLE
Ad Traffic Manager DAVID TROUBA Digital Manager LUIS DE LA TOBA
Manager DAMIAN INGERSOLL
Publisher TODD
Associate Publisher BILL SITZMANN For Advertising & Subscription Information : 402.884.2000 Omaha Magazine Vol 42 Issue III, publishes monthly except February, April, August, December, totaling 8 issues by Omaha Magazine, LTD, 5921 S. 118 Circle, Omaha, NE 68137. Periodical postage at Omaha, NE, and additional offices and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Omaha Magazine, 5921 S. 118 Circle, Omaha, NE 68137 // 4 // JUNE 2024
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STAY IN THE KNOMAHA!

The metro is jam packed with tons do—art, concerts, theater, festivals—we’ve got you covered with our comprehensive list and highlighted picks!

Music Art Festival

SAMARA JOY

Holland Performing Arts Center

June 12, 7 p.m

1200 Douglas St. ticketomaha.com

Join 24-year-old American jazz singer Samara Joy as she hits the Omaha stage. The Bronx native stepped onto the jazz scene with her debut album in 2021, later releasing her Grammy® Award-winning second album, “Linger Awhile,” establishing herself as the genre’s latest sensation. Her velvety voice, already endorsed by icons like Anita Baker and Regina King, has graced platforms from the TODAY Show to TikTok, garnering millions of fans. Despite her youth, she effortlessly interprets timeless classics on “Linger Awhile,” showcasing a sophistication beyond her years. Her triumph at the 2023 Grammy Awards, where she claimed Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best New Artist, solidified her status as the vanguard of Gen-Z jazz vocalists. 402.345.0202

BECOMING JANE: THE EVOLUTION OF DR. JANE GOODALL

The Durham Museum June 22–October 13 801 S 10th St. durhammuseum.org

Renowned English primatologist and anthropologist, Dr. Jane Goodall, has dedicated over six decades to studying the intricate social dynamics of wild chimpanzees, earning her the esteemed title of the world’s foremost expert on these creatures. Founding the Jane Goodall Institute and serving as a UN Messenger of Peace, she has fearlessly delved into the depths of the unknown, off ering humanity profound insights into our closest relatives. Th is captivating multimedia exhibition pays homage to Dr. Goodall’s remarkable life and groundbreaking work. Encountering a life-sized hologram of Dr. Goodall and stepping into a replica of her research tent, visitors will gain a fi rsthand understanding of her tireless dedication to conservation. Organized and presented by the National Geographic Society in collaboration with the Jane Goodall Institute, this exhibition not only celebrates Dr. Goodall’s legacy, but also inspires visitors to take action toward positive change in the world. 402.444.5071

OMAHA FREEDOM FESTIVAL: A CELEBRATION OF JUNETEENTH

Malcolm X Memorial Foundation

June 15, 10 a.m. 3448 Evans St. juneteenthbynaacpomaha.org

The Omaha Freedom Festival is an all-day, family-friendly event that expands upon Omaha’s NAACP Juneteenth Parade to off er education, entertainment, and access to local resources. After the Juneteenth Parade at 10 a.m., the fun continues at the Omaha Freedom Festival. All are invited to join an unforgettable celebration at the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation Outside Event Plaza at 3448 Evans St., from 12–5 p.m.

The event is a chance to have fun with your community and off ers the chance to win a variety of prizes. Experience free daytime activities and a concert from 7 p.m. to midnight. Hosted by Freedomtainment, a 501c3 non-profit organization in North Omaha, this festival commemorates the Juneteenth holiday, honoring the emancipation of enslaved individuals in the United States. Main sponsors for this year’s event include Union Pacific, Google, Quality Clinical Research, and the Charles Drew Health Center. 531.772.0842

JUNE 2024 // 5 //

PLANT FOLK BY ANNE NEWMAN

A N R L D C E

EVENTS

» Exhibitions «

ARTS FOR ME! SPRING EXHIBITION

rough June 7 at KANEKO, 1111 Jones St. Experience the artistic endeavors of students from Arts For ME! (AFM) at KANEKO art center. AFM advocates for adaptive art programs for alternative students, passionately sharing their teaching philosophy and approach through art education. Collaborating with educators and artists globally, AFM harnesses diverse perspectives and expertise to enrich their programs. Step into a world of student creativity at the spring exhibition, and witness the transformative power of art in fostering inclusivity and self-expression. 402.341.3800 —thekaneko.org

JURASSIC QUEST

June 7–9 at CHI Health Center, 455 N 10th St. Prepare for an unforgettable weekend packed with adventure! Bring the whole family to experience the world of animated life-size dinosaurs at CHI Health Center. Delight in meeting baby dinos (expertly maneuvered puppet) and embark on fossil excavation adventures. Featuring the largest and most realistic dinosaur exhibit on tour, including the towering 60-foot spinosaurus, an 80-foot apatosaurus, and a life-sized T. rex, this event promises excitement for all ages. Kids can also enjoy dinosaur-themed bounce houses and unleash their creativity at the crafts table, with free activities like crafting paper dinosaurs and coloring dino-themed artworks. 402.341.1500 —chihealthcenteromaha.com

LAYERS

OF IDENTITY–GROUP SHOW

June 21–23 at Cali Commons, 518 N 40th St. Upcoming at Cali Commons, a vibrant community space dedicated to showcasing local artists, is an exciting exhibition titled “Layers of Identity.” Featuring the works of artists George Garrett III, Eduardo Gardea, and Jenna Jaff ery, this exhibition delves into the intricate journey of self-discovery and understanding. Th rough intentional exploration, these artists illuminate the multifaceted nature of human identity, influenced by our own experiences, cultures, and environments. As we navigate through life, the artists explain, our identities evolve and are shaped by both controllable and uncontrollable factors. 402.513.2321 —calicommons.net/cc

rough July 9 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St. “Plant Folk” by artist Anne Newman is an enchanting upcoming exhibition at Lauritzen Gardens. Newman’s captivating series comprises anthropomorphic plant portraits, vividly depicting plants in expressive motion. Inspired by the rich folklore surrounding mandrakes, the project evolved into an exploration of various plant species attaining consciousness and mobility. Each artwork invites viewers to contemplate the dynamic relationship between humanity and the botanical world, off ering a whimsical, yet thought-provoking perspective on the interconnectedness of all living beings within the natural realm. 402.346.4002

—lauritzengardens.org

PLANTS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY BY MEGAN LOUDON SANDERS

rough July 9 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St. Th is showcase presents a charming collection of portraits, capturing the artist’s cherished houseplants alongside vibrant paintings inspired by flowers from her garden. Sanders’ artistry unfolds in a captivating blend of grayscale and full-color compositions, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the beauty and tranquility of nature. Th rough her artwork, Sanders celebrates the simple joys and profound connections found within the world of botanicals, off ering a refreshing perspective on the harmony between humans and plants. 402.346.4002

—lauritzengardens.org

PHOTO EXHIBIT: MULEHEAD RANCH

rough July 14 at e Durham Museum, 801 S 10th St. During the early 20th century, as westward settlement surged, South Dakota witnessed the onset of the Second Dakota Boom. It was during this period that brothers Ernest, Graydon, and Frank Jackson, Jr. ventured into Rosebud Reservation territory and initiated their business venture, Mulehead Ranch. Showcasing its legacy, this exhibition features nine captivating images sourced from the institution’s photo archive, illustrating the profound impact of the ranch on the local landscape and culture. Th is show is curated by Creighton University graduate and intern at The Durham Museum, Eve Aspinwall. 402.444.5071

—durhammuseum.org

A of 7 14 21 8 15 22 9 16 23
// 6 // JUNE 2024

ONEOMAHA

BYRON REED EXHIBIT: EXPRESSIONS IN WRITING

rough August 25 at e Durham Museum, 801 S 10th St. Over his lifetime, Byron Reed amassed a diverse collection of documents penned by historical fi gures and eyewitnesses to significant events. These authors range from royalty and explorers to early colonists. Th is upcoming Durham exhibit will showcase a curated selection of documents from Reed’s collection, accompanied by detailed historical and biographical narratives. Furthermore, visitors will delve into the realm of “graphology,” a study suggesting that handwriting reflects personality traits. Local handwriting analyst Rolando Garcia will provide insights into each document, off ering brief observations gleaned from analyzing the writing styles. 402.444.5071

—durhammuseum.org

RAVEN HALFMOON: FLAGS OF OUR MOTHERS

rough September 15 at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, 724 S 12th St. Th is exhibition showcases a curated selection of both new and borrowed works spanning the past fi ve years, off ering a unique glimpse into Raven Halfmoon’s evolving creative exploration. Halfmoon’s artistic practice encompasses a range of stoneware sculptures, from torso-scaled to colossal-sized pieces, some reaching heights of nine feet and weighing over 800 pounds. Drawing inspiration from ancient Indigenous pottery, Moai statues, and land art, Halfmoon delves into the intricate interplay among tradition, history, gender, and personal narrative. 402.341.7130

—bemiscenter.org

Concerts

TCHAIKOVSKY 6

June 1, 7:30 p.m., at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Experience the dynamic synergy between Jacob Nissly, Principal Percussionist of the San Francisco Symphony, and Maestro Ankush Kumar Bahl as they present Adam Schoenberg’s “Losing Earth Percussion Concerto” alongside the Omaha Symphony. Th is riveting composition, dedicated to Nissly, confronts the urgency of climate change while showcasing his virtuosity. Embark on an emotional journey with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique,” as its stirring melodies and profound themes captivate the soul. Th is musical masterpiece promises to linger in your memory. 402.345.0202 —ticketomaha.com

POKEY LAFARGE

June 4, 8 p.m., at e Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St. Musician, songwriter, entertainer, and preservationist Pokey LaFarge stands as a special fi gure in American music. His talents defy genre boundaries, showcasing his innovative spirit and commitment to musical evolution. With his latest album, “Rhumba Country,” LaFarge unveils a renewed dedication to crafting music that exudes pure joy, marking a significant milestone in his musical journey. 402.884.5353 —waitingroomlounge.com

MOLLY TUTTLE & GOLDEN HIGHWAY–DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE TOUR

June 4, 8 p.m., at Slowdown, 729 N 14th St. Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and musician Molly Tuttle, along with her band Golden Highway, are bringing their “Down The Rabbit Hole” Tour to Omaha. Their latest album, “City of Gold,” under Nonesuch Records, follows Tuttle’s critically acclaimed 2022 record, “Crooked Tree,” which secured the title of Best Bluegrass Album at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards. Tuttle’s distinctive style seamlessly blends American roots music with singer-songwriter fi nesse. “City of Gold” continues this tradition, marrying the improvisatory spirit of bluegrass with sophisticated songwriting. 402.345.7569 —theslowdown.com

TOPHOUSE

June 5, 8 p.m., at Slowdown, 729 N 14th St. Established in 2015, TopHouse initially emerged as a musical collaboration between Jesse Davis, a guitarist and songwriter, and William Cook, a violinist, both of whom were music composition majors at the University of Montana. The duo’s shared passion for music propelled them to start performing together immediately, despite the absence of a drummer and vocalist. Over time, they transitioned to performing at local farmer’s markets, coff ee shops, breweries, and weddings. In 2016, singer, songwriter, and guitarist/banjo player Joseph Larson joined the band, followed by pianist Andy LaFave in 2022. 402.345.7569 —theslowdown.com

TIM MCGRAW–STANDING ROOM ONLY TOUR

June 7, 7 p.m., at CHI Health Center, 455 N 10th St. Back in Omaha, the familiar singer-songwriter Tim McGraw graces the country music scene once again with the “Standing Room Only Tour.” With a staggering 40 million albums sold in the US alone, McGraw is an iconic presence in American country music. Renowned as a singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor, he boasts an impressive discography comprising 16 studio albums. Ten of these albums have soared to the top spot on the Top Country Albums charts, with his 1994 breakthrough release, “Not a Moment Too Soon,” reigning as the top country album of the year. 402.341.1500 —chihealthcenteromaha.com

ZEPPARELLA

June 7, 8 p.m., at e Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St. Zepparella stands as the ultimate powerhouse tribute to Led Zeppelin. With vocalist Anna Kristina, guitarist Gretchen Menn, bassist Holly West, and drummer Clementine at the helm, their devotion to the legendary band’s music has taken them across the globe. Their performances capture the intricate nuances and depth of Led Zeppelin’s catalog while paying homage to the electrifying improvisational prowess that defi ned Zeppelin’s live shows. 402.884.5353

—waitingroomlounge.com

AVI KAPLAN–FEEL ALRIGHT TOUR

June 7, 8 p.m., at Slowdown, 729 N 14th St. Avi Kaplan, an American singer-songwriter, gained recognition as the former vocal bass of the a cappella sensation Pentatonix from 2011 to 2017. Transitioning to his solo career with 2017's “Sage and Stone,” Kaplan already boasted a global following, having earned three Grammy Awards with Pentatonix. Despite the group’s escalating success, Kaplan felt compelled to reconnect with his artistic roots, drawing inspiration from the organic sounds of country and soul music that shaped his upbringing in rural California. 402.345.7569

—theslowdown.com

HERE’S WHERE WE STAND–RIVER CITY MIXED CHORUS

June 8, 7:05 p.m., at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Th roughout the nation and beyond, June marks a time of celebration and introspection for the LGBTQ+ community. In alignment with Pride Month, River City Mixed Chorus proudly presents “Here's Where We Stand,” a concert showcasing songs selected by members. Th is event pays homage to 40 years of music dedicated to love, joy, and the ongoing struggle for equality and justice. Th e concert further amplifies RCMC’s commitment to inclusivity and advocacy. 402.345.0202

—ticketomaha.com

LIONEL RICHIE AND EARTH, WIND & FIRE–SING A SONG ALL NIGHT LONG

June 9 at CHI Health Center, 455 N 10th St. Finally bringing the show to an Omaha stage, Lionel Richie extended his acclaimed “Sing A Song All Night Long” tour, featuring special guests Earth, Wind & Fire, one of the best-selling bands in history. Get ready to groove to classics like “Boogie Wonderland” and “All Night Long!” With an illustrious career boasting an Oscar, fi ve Grammys, and 16 American Music Awards, Richie is renowned for his live performances. Earth, Wind and Fire, with six Grammys and four American Music Awards, are celebrated members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame, having sold over 90 million records worldwide. 402.341.1500

—chihealthcenteromaha.com

AN EVENING WITH GOOSE

June 10, 7:30 p.m., at Steelhouse Omaha, 1100 Dodge St. One of the most buzzed-about jam bands, Goose boasts a sold-out performance record at iconic venues like Red Rocks. Since their debut album release in 2016, Goose has captivated audiences with their distinctive blend of infectious songwriting, musicianship, and dynamic improvisation. Their success reached new heights in 2022 with the release of their third studio album, “dripfield.” Garnering critical acclaim from esteemed publications such as Rolling Stone, which lauded it as “both sweet headphone ear candy and the foundation for a perfect live peak,” “dripfield” solidified Goose’s status as a musical phenomenon. 402.345.0606 —steelhouseomaha.com

// 8 // JUNE 2024

MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD

+ STEPHEN MARLEY

June 11, 6 p.m., at Steelhouse Omaha, 1100 Dodge St. Michael Franti, a globally recognized musician, activist, and fi lmmaker, is acclaimed for his high-energy performances, inspiring music, and philanthropic eff orts. His latest album, “Follow Your Heart,” with his band Spearhead, debuted at No. 2 on the iTunes Pop Chart, showcasing his enduring talents. Meanwhile, Stephen Marley, an eight-time Grammy-winning reggae pioneer and son of musical legends Bob and Rita Marley, has forged his own path, infusing reggae with hip hop and soul elements, as demonstrated in his solo endeavors and collaborations with iconic artists like Jack Johnson and Bob Weir. 402.345.0606 —steelhouseomaha.com

THE MOVEMENT

June 13, 8 p.m., at Slowdown, 729 N 14th St. Formed in Columbia, South Carolina, Th e Movement is an American reggae band. Th e two founding members, Josh Swain and Jordan Miller, enlisted the talents of musicians Jay Schmidt and Gary Jackson, forming their live rhythm section. Their latest album, “Always With Me,” is available now. Since their inception, The Movement has garnered a devoted following among alternative-reggae enthusiasts, drawing influence from bands like Sublime, 311, Slightly Stoopid, and John Brown’s Body. Renowned for their versatile sound anchored in heavy drum and bass, they continue to evolve as reggae shapeshifters. 402.345.7569 —theslowdown.com

ONE OMAHA MUSIC FESTIVAL

June 13–15, Multiple venues in 3 Districts: Benson, Midtown, and the Old Market. Hook n Sync presents an impactful three-day concert event featuring a solid line up of the best local, regional, and national bands. The event is a true multi-venue, multi-stage, indoor/outdoor concert experience that includes live music from all genres played throughout the city. —facebook.com/hooknsync

ARROWS IN ACTION: THE BACK TO LIFE TOUR

June 19, 7:30 p.m., at e Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St. ARROWS IN ACTION, composed of singer and guitarist Victor Viramontes-Pattison, guitarist Matthew Fowler, and drummer Jesse Frimmel, have swiftly risen from undergraduate students to underground sensations. Their music, characterized by a fusion of angular indie-rock, ‘80s electric vibes, and sweet alt-pop, has captivated over half a million Spotify listeners. With their seamless melodies, heartfelt lyrics, and lush sonic landscapes, ARROWS IN ACTION continue to make waves in the music scene. 402.884.5353

—waitingroomlounge.com

SHAM 69

June 20, 8 p.m., at e Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St. Sham 69 is an English punk rock group formed in Hersham, Surrey, in 1975. They have been recognized as a significant influence on the Oi! subgenre of U.K. punk during the late 1970s, as well as on the working-class street punk movement of the 1980s. 402.884.5353

—waitingroomlounge.com

MURDER BY DEATH

June 23, 8 p.m., at e Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St. As pioneers of early 2000s indie-Americana, Murder by Death, hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, infuses traditional rock-and-roll with a twist, crafting an eerie, emotive, and distinctive sound uniquely their own. Beyond their ominous name and Kentucky roots lies a band of literary songwriters, known for their brooding balladry and orchestral indie rock. Murder By Death’s journey began in the early 2000s, playing to intimate crowds at local venues and house parties. Over two decades, they’ve released eight albums, maintained a rigorous touring schedule, and cultivated a devoted fanbase. 402.884.5353

—waitingroomlounge.com

CHARLES WESLEY GODWIN

June 26, 8 p.m., at Steelhouse Omaha, 1100 Dodge St. Hailing from West Virginia, Charles Wesley Godwin is an American country-folk artist. His second album, “How the Mighty Fall,” released in 2021, garnered acclaim for its shift toward storytelling beyond his own experiences. Godwin toured with Zach Bryan and collaborated on Bryan’s song “Jamie” for the 2022 EP “Summertime Blues.” Additionally, Godwin’s track “Winter’s Come and Gone” was featured on the soundtrack for “The Hunger Games: The Ballads of Songbirds & Snakes.” 402.345.0606

—steelhouseomaha.com

YÄCHTLEY CRËW

June 28, 7 p.m., at Steelhouse Omaha, 1100 Dodge St. Yächtley Crëw, a seven-piece yacht rock band, emerged onto the California club scene in 2017, quickly becoming a local sensation and eventually gaining national recognition as a touring act. Th eir debut six-song EP, “Seas the Day,” features their original track, “S*x on the Beach,” and embodies the yacht rock genre revival, celebrating soft rock and Top 40 hits from the late ‘70s to the early ‘80s. Known as “The Titans of Soft Rock,” Yächtley Crëw brings classics to the stage adorned in nautical suits and captain hats. 402.345.0606

—steelhouseomaha.com

JUNE 2024 // 9 //

STAGE PERFORMANCES

BRAD WILLIAMS: TOUR ‘24

June 2, 7 p.m., at the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Comedian Brad Williams has risen to become one of the most sought-after comedic talents of our time. Beginning his stand-up career in his teenage years, Williams has since embarked on a handful of successful tours, consistently selling out esteemed venues across the globe. He has graced both the big screen and television with his presence. Born with achondroplasia, Williams continues to captivate audiences with his unique perspective and boundless humor. 402.345.0202 —ticketomaha.com

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

June 7–23 at e Rose eater, 2001 Farnam St. Experience the enchanting production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” at The Rose Th eater. Join young Charlie Bucket and four other fortunate winners as they embark on an extraordinary adventure through Willy Wonka’s enigmatic candy factory. Encounter chocolate waterfalls, nutty squirrels, and remarkable television technology, all unveiled by Wonka’s inquisitive Oompa-Loompas. Th is delightful performance, including the beloved song “Pure Imagination,” is your golden ticket to a magical journey based on Roald Dahl’s novel, featuring songs from the motion picture by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. 402.345.4849  —rosetheater.org

FINDING NEMO JR.

June 12–16 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. Bringing the beloved 2003 Disney Pixar fi lm to Omaha, “Finding Nemo Jr.” tells the heartwarming tale of Marlin, an anxious clownfi sh, and his adventurous son, Nemo. Living in the Great Barrier Reef, Nemo dreams of exploring the vast ocean beyond their anemone home. However, when Nemo is captured and taken to Sydney, Australia, Marlin embarks on a courageous journey to rescue him. Along the way, they encounter unforgettable characters like the optimistic Dory, laid-back sea turtle Crush, and the supportive Tank Gang, overcoming obstacles and discovering the true meaning of family and friendship. Featuring beloved songs like “Just Keep Swimming,” “Fish Are Friends Not Food,” and “Go With the Flow,” the show immerses audiences in a vibrant underwater world fi lled with adventure. 402.553.0800 —omahaplayhouse.com

MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL

rough June 9 at Orpheum eater, 409 S 16th St. “Moulin Rouge! Th e Musical” takes center stage in Omaha, triumphing with 10 Tony Awards®, including Best Musical. Step into a world of opulence, romance, and extravagant spectacle, where Bohemians and aristocrats mingle in a whirlwind of enchantment. Baz Luhrmann’s iconic fi lm gets a vibrant new life on stage, remixed into a dazzling musical extravaganza. Directed by Tony Award® winner Alex Timbers, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” has an all-star creative team, including Tony Award® winners John Logan, Justin Levine, and Sonya Tayeh. 402.661.8501 —ticketomaha.com

June 29, 7 p.m., at CHI Health Center, 455 N 10th St. Following the triumph of his February show in Omaha, comedian Nate Bargatze is expanding “The Be Funny Tour” into the summer of 2024 with additional performances, including another lucky stop in Omaha. Dubbed “Th e Nicest Man in Stand-Up” by Th e Atlantic Magazine, Bargatze is a Grammy-nominated comedian from Nashville, Tennessee. Renowned for his over 10 appearances on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and his Netfl ix specials, Bargatze continues to garner widespread acclaim for his comedic talents. 402.341.1500

—chihealthcenteromaha.com

NATE BARGATZE–THE BE FUNNY TOUR
// 10 // JUNE 2024

HELLO, DOLLY!

rough June 30 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. “Hello, Dolly!,” recipient of 15 Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Revival, is gracing the stage at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Th is timeless musical masterpiece epitomizes classic theater entertainment. Bursting with showmanship, glamor, romance, dance, humor, and iconic musical numbers, “Hello, Dolly!” promises an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re encountering Dolly for the fi rst time or revisiting her charm, this grand production is sure to leave a lasting impression. 402.553.0800 —omahaplayhouse.com

GLOBAL SOUNDS FESTIVAL

June 1, 4 p.m., at Upland Park, 3104 Je erson St. Upland Park once again hosts the eagerly anticipated Global Sounds festival, a collaborative eff ort with Canopy South. Th is vibrant event celebrates cultural diversity through music, dance, culinary delights, and community engagement. Presented in partnership with Omaha Performing Arts, the festival features a diverse lineup of local and national artists, providing a platform for both established and emerging talents. Moreover, it serves as a conduit for local vendors and nonprofit organizations, while also off ering a delectable array of ethnic cuisines from food trucks. Spearheaded by Canopy South, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the holistic revitalization of South Omaha neighborhoods, the festival aligns with the mission of fostering economic mobility. Th rough initiatives like mixed-income housing development, educational support, and community enhancement programs, Canopy South continues to enrich the fabric of our neighborhoods. 402.345.0606 —ticketomaha.com

TASTE OF OMAHA

rough June 2 at Heartland of America Park at e RiverFront, 800 Douglas St. Now in its 27th year, the Taste of Omaha festival has become a staple in the city, drawing people from across the Midwest to indulge in an array of culinary delights. Omaha’s fi nest restaurants will showcase their creations, off ering something for every palate. Attendees can enjoy live cooking demonstrations, peruse vendors, and groove to live music at the Heartland of America Park on Th e RiverFront. Th e 2024 event promises exceptional entertainment with daily performances on multiple stages, featuring top national acts and popular local bands—all free of charge for attendees to enjoy throughout the three-day extravaganza. 402.346.8003 —showofficeonline.com/TasteHome

ROSE DAY AND SHOW–OMAHA

ROSE SOCIETY

June 2, 11 a.m.–4:30 p.m., at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St. Join the Omaha Rose Society for their annual Rose Day and Show, dedicated to fostering the culture and admiration for roses. Gardeners from across the region will showcase exquisite rose blooms cultivated in their own gardens. Explore the Robert H. Storz Family Rose Garden, featuring over 200 cultivars of garden roses, and engage with consulting rosarians to gain insights into rose cultivation and care. Share your passion for roses by participating as an exhibitor and showcasing the fi nest blooms from your garden; all are welcome to enter roses from their home gardens for the show. 402.346.4002

—lauritzengardens.org

SUMMER SOLSTICE LECTURE WITH JIM LOCKLEAR

June 20, 7 p.m., at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St. Embark on a delightful journey with Jim Locklear, the founding director of conservation at Lauritzen Gardens and the author of “In the Country of the Kaw: A Personal Natural History of the American Plains.” Join Locklear as he joyously explores the realm of the Kaw River, a unique waterway that originates and traverses all three major grasslands—the shortgrass, mixedgrass, and tallgrass prairies. Locklear will delve into the region’s abundant biological diversity and recount tales of human engagement with the landscape, illustrating how nature has influenced culture and vice versa.

402.346.4002

—lauritzengardens.org

LEASHES AT LAURITZEN

June 3 & 10 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St. Join Lauritzen Gardens for another special event catered to your best friend and bring your leashes! Accompany your furry companion on a leisurely stroll through scenic grounds, embracing the great outdoors together. It’s a relaxed and enjoyable opportunity for the whole family to explore 100 acres and miles of trails. Water and treats will be provided at various stations throughout the garden, ensuring a delightful experience for all. 402.346.4002  —lauritzengardens.org

WATER LANTERN FESTIVAL

June 29, 6 p.m., at Gene Leahy Mall, 1001 Douglas St. Head to Gene Leahy Mall for a memorable evening of light and camaraderie at the Water Lantern Festival. Participate in the unforgettable experience fi lled with food trucks, lively music, engaging activities, and thousands of lanterns illuminating the water. Th is event creates cherished memories for all attendees, bringing together friends, families, neighbors, and strangers alike in a peaceful and unforgettable celebration. The festival’s eco-conscious approach ensures that the lanterns, crafted from rice paper and wood, are environmentally friendly, with LED candles that are reused and recycled. 402.599.6565

—waterlanternfestival.com/omaha.php

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JUNE 2024 // 11 //

Empty Bowls,

Full Hearts

Amy Nelson's Civic Engagement Through Art

Within Creighton University’s halls, Amy Nelson, a ceramist and associate professor of Fine Art, sits with her hands deep in clay and her heart set on community. Her teaching curriculum is a fusion of artistic passion and civic engagement, represented by the hundreds of ceramic bowls of various colors, shapes, and sizes that line the studio. A respected ceramics instructor, Nelson’s journey into the realm of civic-minded artistry began long before her tenure at Creighton.

Pottery was personal to Nelson during her formative years. She recounted how a potter’s demonstration in her freshman high school art class ignited her fascination with ceramics, leading her to become somewhat obsessed with the craft as a teen.

“I took my fi rst college pottery class during my freshman year at Creighton as an undergraduate, which has influenced a lot of my teaching now and who I am as an artist,” Nelson reflected. Th is initial fascination laid the groundwork for what would become her life’s work—blending artistic expression with community service.

Upon joining Creighton’s faculty full time in 2006, Nelson embarked on a transformative endeavor that carries on today—Empty Bowls, an international project to fi ght hunger for which participants create ceramic bowls the public can purchase. Integrated into a service-learning class led by Nelson within the university’s art program, Creighton students craft hundreds of bowls for their bi-annual sale. Proceeds from this fundraiser benefit the Siena Francis House, the primary provider of services to homeless individuals in downtown Omaha not far from Creighton’s campus.

After one of Nelson’s students initially proposed Empty Bowls as a solo project, it was Nelson’s decision to involve the entire class that propelled the initiative forward, demonstrating a collective commitment to making an impact within their community. Creighton’s involvement in this project transcends Nelson’s expectations year after year.

“We had no idea what was going to happen or if anyone would come,” Nelson recalled of their inaugural public sale. “I had six students, and they made 350 bowls in three months. It wasn’t my original plan for the class, but I was happy to throw all my plans out the window.”

While their participation was a mere fundraising effort in 2006, it wasn’t until 2010 that Nelson formulated a comprehensive curriculum for her Arts and Civic Engagement class, with the Empty Bowls project at its core. While crafting bowls and serving meals remained a primary activity, the class syllabus expanded to include collecting essential donations and participating in additional outreach efforts.

“Our work at Siena Francis is a big part of who I am; I recognize its value and integrate it into my teaching as much as possible,” Nelson said. “My own approach to art is less about creation and more about making art accessible to underserved populations.”

Th roughout the semester, Nelson and her students engage in various creative workshops at the shelter. These sessions often involve collaborations with the Miracles Addiction Treatment and Recovery Program, which otherwise lacks programming centered on art therapy, Nelson said. Additionally, students partake in art activities within the emergency shelter. The shelter sits just a few blocks away from Creighton, a different world from their own.

A/C VISUAL
// 12 // JUNE 2024
Amy Nelson

A/C VISUAL

Even outside scheduled class time, students commit to volunteering at Siena Francis House for a minimum of six to eight hours, individually or in small groups, during the semester. Their personal volunteer work ranges from serving meals to participating in ground maintenance tasks, such as trash pickup.

Reflecting on her own journey, Nelson acknowledges the importance of art in the community initiatives in which she partakes. She served on the Union For Contemporary Art’s board of directors for six years, a role that resonated with her vision of enhancing arts accessibility in Omaha. In 2023, she was honored with the Volunteer of the Year award and inducted into the Volunteer Hall of Fame for her contributions with the Empty Bowls project during the Siena Francis House’s annual volunteer appreciation luncheon.

Remarkably, the proceeds from the Empty Bowls initiative have amassed close to $80,000 for Siena Francis thus far. The tenth public event of the Creighton University Empty Bowls project is scheduled for December 2024, taking place on the Wednesday and Thursday following Th anksgiving. Sales are conducted on the Creighton campus within the Lied Art Gallery.

“Pottery is what I consider an intimate form of art,” Nelson noted. “It's not just hanging on a wall—you physically engage with it. Students enjoy their time in the studio, but they know it’s meaningful on a much big ger scale.”

With each ceramic vessel crafted, each meal served, Nelson and her students create bonds of solidarity that resonate far beyond their ceramics studio classroom.

“At the beginning of a new semester, I make it clear to my students: ‘You're committing to creating X number of bowls, and we're going to serve at Siena Francis—everything you make will be donated.’ I always found it surprising that students were willing to participate. ‘All that work, and you’re willing to give it all away?’

“Without fail, they’ll say, ‘Let’s do it.’”

For more information, visit emptybowls.com

“Pottery is what I consider an intimate form of art. It's not just hanging on a wall—you physically engage with it. Students enjoy their time in the studio, but they know it’s meaningful on a much bigger scale.” - Amy Nelson

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JUNE 2024 // 15 //

Making

All the World a Stage Making All the World a Stage

Story by Leo Adam Biga // Photography by Bill Sitzmann // Design by Rac hel Birdsall
VROOM!’S EXPERIENTIAL JOURNEY FOR
RY
// 16 // JUNE 2024
THE SENSO
SENSITIVE
Kathleen Combs Ben Pearson Katy Kepler

s part of ongoing efforts to be more inclusive and accessible, the Omaha Community Playhouse’s free VROOM! Mobile Sensory Theatre takes the magic of the stage to sensory sensitive audiences.

Conceived by former OCP Artistic Director Stephen Santa, the current season’s program delivers an intimate, outer space-themed experience called “Starshine!” right to a family’s home courtesy of a specially-outfitted van. The interior contains a fully dressed set of surprises as “Starkeeper” participants discover their own star caretaker role.

VROOM! removes barriers that may make it challenging for families to bring their sensory sensitive loved one to a traditional theater.

Local English teacher Rana Jafar appreciated how the special experience catered to her autistic son Ismael, who was 11 when Vroom! came to his home.

“I just loved the convenience of it. They come and park up in your drive,” she explained. “It’s in the comfort of your own home. You just have to step outside, and it’s there for you.”

Program coordinator Katy Kepler said the neurodivergent-friendly performances mostly serve children with autism or some other sensory sensitivity.

“We don’t require someone to have a formal diagnosis to participate,” she said, indicating that shows are offered to sensory sensitive adu lts as well.

She notes that VROOM! breaks traditional stage performance rules in service of it s audience.

“In a typical theater, you don’t touch the stage, you don’t handle props, you don’t talk to the person performing, but here you do,” Kepler said. “Th is is really,

truly hands-on. The audience member is your scene partner. You communicate— verbally or otherwise—and react to what your audience member reacts to.”

Rather than a show that one passively watches, she continued, it’s an experiential journey or adventure.

“Instead of a strict start or end time, it’s flexible. We start when our audience member is ready to start,” Kepler said. “If an audience member needs to get up to take a break or use the bathroom, we pause the show. We can do that because we’re not dependent on a whole crowd and following a super tight schedule. If a performance is 10 minutes, and our audience member enjoys it, awesome. If it’s 45 minutes, also great. All those things become flexible to meet the needs of t his person.”

“Each time we perform this experience, it’s completely different,” actor Kathleen Combs said. “That makes it fresh for each of us.”

Th at kind of performing is exciting for the actor. “The intimacy is unlike any other theater experience. It’s just the audience member, their parent or guardian, and the actors. It’s almost like you’re in this bubble,” she explained.

“That’s all very helpful and we need to know it,” Kepler said. “Where it gets fun is learning about their special interests and incorporating them into the story. Unfortunately, in the real world, if you have a special interest, you can get bullied about it. But VROOM! gives them an opportunity to be joyful and expressive of their interests without judgment.”

For example, Combs learned ahead of time that Ismael’s favorite scientist is Ibn al-Haytham, a medieval physicist, astronomer, and mathematician, and his favorite band is the Beatles. “I was able to mention many of his favorite things, and Ismael was then able to add to it,” she said. “It was the best experience. Mom and dad were both in the van, and they were in tears. The y loved it.”

“The intimacy is unlike any other theater experience. It’s just the audience member, their parent or guardian, and the actors. It’s almost lik e you’re in this bubble.”

“You are laser-focused on your recruit,” Combs continued. “Everything else goes away. You don’t even know what time it is. So, it is really intimate. You’re so close that it’s really special. That bond is so strong.”

Combs said that performing for VROOM! makes for more personal and stronger theater connections for audience members and the actors themselves. “This experience has allowed me to grow as an actor and not be afraid to let moments play out in the silence,” she shared. “I’ve taken what I’ve gained from actively listening in silence to roles I’ve played outside Mobile Sensory Theatre, and I now feel comfortable in that.”

Families booking VROOM! are asked to share in advance practical information concerning accommodations and considerations, such as whether the audience member uses a wheelchair. OCP also incorporates the input of its target audience into the creat ive process.

“Even though we were there next to him and were able to enjoy it with him, it was still his experience,” Jafar added. “It was him they were engaging with. It was all about him. What stood out most was they actually used what I shared about my son’s interests. They incorporated mentions of these things into the storytelling. It was just a beautiful experience.”

Ismael was “impressed” and “surprised” by how much the show reflected h is passions.

“It’s very important to us,” Kepler emphasized, noting that the program partners with Laura Dodge Elementary School’s Alternative Curriculum Program. “I go to classrooms working directly with young people with autism and other disabilities. It’s really helpful, because we get to test out our ideas and themes and see what resonates—and what doesn’t.”

All “Starshine!” actors have teaching and classroom experience, she added, to facilitate performances. A social narrative is used to create predictability for t he audience.

“Sometimes neurodivergent people need a little extra information about what to expect,” Kepler said. “Surprises can feel really overwhelming. If you’re someone who doesn’t like surprises or has a sensitivity to all the other things going on— the lights, the sounds, the crowd around you—well, then you’re being bombarded

with all this input. If you know what to expect, you can have a much more successful experience. Resources we provide are photos of the actors, some props, and narration that describes what’s going to happen.”

VROOM! also goes to schools and community events upon request. Off season OCP additionally offers “Extended Universe” workshops at the Playhouse.

“It’s to provide different experiences for diff erent levels of readiness,” Kepler explained. “For families that aren’t ready to bring their child or adult to what can be an overwhelming experience going to the Playhouse or any theater, we hope to be a bridge.

“If they enjoyed the van experience, maybe they’re ready to try this workshop,” she said. “It’s not one-on-one; it’s with a group of their peers.”

“The world we set up is very magical,” Combs said. “We use a lot of the props from ‘Starshine!’ We play a little bit with the lighting. We have music. It’s broken down into segments. Everybody checks off each activity as we do it, which makes everything predictable. It’s a wonderful, safe space to explore.”

While VROOM! starts shutting down for the season in October, the mobile theatre takes to the open road again in April 2025, when bookings for the new show also open. Kepler is currently developing the script for the new VROOM! show.

For more information about VROOM!, visit omahaplayhouse.com/ inclusion/mobile-sensory-theatre.

JUNE 2024 // 19 //

Ella Weber’s Deli Diaries

Hamming Written Through the Word

BY

PHOTOGRAPHY BY SARAH LEMKE

DESIGN BY RENEE LUDWICK

A/C LITERACY

A“It seems to capture the Zeitgeist of being a millennial very well,” said Jon Gosch, executive editor at Latah Books, which published the novel in September 2023.

The autobiographical-fiction book takes “Della” through one eight-hour shift as she asks herself “Who ham I?” and deals with characters such as cartoonish management, stressed-out and indecisive customers, secret shoppers, and coworkers ranging from creepy to simply strange.

Weber herself earned a Master’s of Fine Arts in printmaking from the University of Kansas and worked at the deli counter of a grocery store for several years in between artist residencies.

All the zany incidents in the book may not have happened in one day, but nonetheless, many of them did indeed happen. After graduating college in 2015, Weber returned to Omaha before working as an artist-in-residence at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, Colorado. She thought working at the deli would be a mere transition between student and full-time artist; instead, the deli influenced the art.

“I was in Colorado, surrounded by all these creative people, and the curator said, ‘Honestly, I think you’re more inspired (there) than you were here,’” Weber recounted. She completed that first residency and returned to the deli. She didn’t love it, but it remained a constant in her life, one that depressed her at first.

After a year or two of jumping from the deli counter to artist residency and then back to the deli counter, she gained a new perspective: she could use this mundane job to create art. Weber first worked in visual mediums, taking thousands of videos and selfies with cold cuts and deli paper. The accompanying updates on her social media posts regarding the deli became a collection

story familiar to many is carved up in Omaha native Ella Weber’s “Deli Diaries” a young woman graduates from college with a pile of student debt and takes on an unsatisfying job behind a deli counter to pay her bills.

of stories, often inspired by things people said as Weber offered meat and cheese with an obligatory smile.

By 2018, her deli-inspired visual art was showing in exhibitions ranging from the Union for Contemporary Art in Omaha to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. At the same time, she was compiling her collection of stories. The next year, she intentionally began slicing the stories together into a book.

Weber wrote consciously from 2019 to 2021. In her visual and written art, she sees dualities between fiction and reality, between the smile behind the aisle and the customer across the counter just trying to get a slice of meat.

After completing the writing, Weber went from the zany, competitive world of visual art to the zanier, more competitive world of book publishing. She reached out to a traditional agent, who rejected the book, saying it was “too weird,” and suggested she find an independent publisher. She used an online submissions platform and landed the attention of Latah Books in Spokane, Washington.

“The vast majority of (manuscripts) we decline,” said Gosch, noting that they make an offer to about 1% of the authors who submit. “But we just happened to fall in love with Ella’s book. I thought it was one of the funniest books I had read in a long time.”

Although Weber thought writing was difficult, her work was just beginning. She collaborated with a team of editors at Latah, spending about a year to cut down the draft by nearly 10,000 words. With her printmaking degree and interest in visual art, Weber understood the graphic style of book she wanted. The first page after the table of contents features a sentence printed in a circle a representation of the

repetitive “Who ham I?” that Weber (Ella/ Della) thought daily in the deli. A variety of fonts, spaces, and other textual details appear throughout the novel.

Even the cover, designed by Weber’s friend and Omaha artist Dan Crane, is influenced by the duality of the modern world and aged meat, featuring a slice of ham in the shape of a mobile phone.

“What was fun about this project was that it was continuously morphing,” Crane shared. “It started out with Ella asking to collaborate on a book cover design, but pretty early on it switched to become a request for a commission of a physical art piece that was to be a ‘Dan Crane Piece of Art that was inspired by Ella Weber Art.’”

Reviews have been glowing. "A stream-of-consciousness tour through a shift that is at once one day and many days, with Della pontificating on life, reality shows, dating, the patriarchy, and everything in between,” trumpeted Kirkus Reviews. Sofi Thanhauser, author of “Worn: A People's History of Clothing,” wrote: “Weber sees to the depths of America's depravity and manages to keep on laughing. The thing is to both see it and survive it, and somehow Ella Weber and her fictional alter ego, Della, the Sybil of the supermarket, has done this. Caustic and suave, serious and weightless, ecstatic and dangling over the abyss, ‘The Deli Diaries is the Great American Novel ‘I have been waiting for.”

Another review was equally as enthusiastic and perhaps the most important to Weber: ”Having lived the book daily through proximity with the author and after reading 72 pages, I endorse this book.” The reviewer? “Ella’s dad.”

That perfectionist in Weber, that detail-orientation that enables an artist to see the world and yes, the deli counter through different eyes, gave readers a weird, wonderful piece of writing that hams it up and lays it down like a slice of Swiss on rye.

Visit ellaweber.com and latahbooks.com/ blank-1/the-deli-diaries for more information.

JUNE 2024 // 21 //

STORY BY BRANDI LONG-FRANK

PHOTOGRAPHY BY SARAH

BY

Cutie Culinary

A/C FOOD STYLING
LEMKE DESIGN RENEE LUDWICK

DDessi Price’s Artistic Journey Through Food and Photography

essi Price spends her days in the bustling corridors of Bozell, an international public relations and advertising agency headquartered in Omaha. The senior art director of the company and herself a food stylist and photographer, Price boasts a portfolio that includes collaborations with such heavyweight brands as Panda Express, the fast casual Chinese restaurant chain, Sun Pacific’s Cuties Citrus, the easy-to-peel clementine oranges, and Mighties kiwis. Price’s journey from her childhood in Eastern Europe to the pinnacle of an advertising firm in the United States exemplifies a tale of passion, perseverance, and culinary exploration.

“Originally from Bulgaria, I moved to the States for college with an interest in art,” Price recalled, her journey beginning with an enrollment in a graphic design program at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. This move created an opportunity for her to step into a world where her love for food would merge with her artistic skill. Price’s career took a pivotal turn when she landed a job at Salt Lake Magazine in Utah, where her friendship with the then executive editor, Mary Brown Malouf, and engagements with the Food Network kindled her passion for cooking.

“I struggled initially with Bulgarian recipes in the U.S. due to vague instructions, but following clear, structured recipes made a significant difference,” Price shared, outlining the challenges and eventual triumphs that shaped her culinary skills.

Price didn’t stop at self-taught experimentation; she dove deeper by attending recreational cooking classes at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. “Spending a week immersed in cooking every day was an incredible experience,” she said. She dedicated that time to mastering new culinary techniques and dishes. Experiencing this hands-on exploration of the culinary arts deepened Price’s understanding of food as a universal language and connector of memories serendipitously a central element of Bulgarian hospitality.

Conveying messages that are often playful and fun is Price’s creative philosophy. She aims to elicit smiles and evoke childhood memories of playing with food. Using this approach led her to create mesmerizing stop-motion videos that bridge the gap between art and food.

“The [COVID-19] pandemic opened up opportunities for connection and learning among artists,” Price shared, emphasizing that remote collaborations and online classes enriched her artistic journey, specifically when exploring the tactile act of creating lettering with food.

Price acknowledged the impact of people like Becca Clason, renowned for her exquisite food lettering stop-motion, Coco Peri, the queen of stop-motion, and Lauren Hom, known

for hand lettering and tactile lettering with food and described by Price as “a beacon of inspiration.” Price’s admiration for these artists underlines her dedication to continual learning and the exploration of food and stop-motion artistry.

While reflecting on her professional journey, Price cherishes a decade-long collaboration with the brand designer and public speaker Andrea Trew. The two worked together at Bailey Lauerman, an integrated marketing, design, PR, social, digital, and production agency. Price and Trew worked in tandem, pioneering the integration of stop-motion animation in social media content with Cuties Citrus and other subjects.

“Our creative process for social media began with advanced planning; we designed a content calendar around holidays and promotions, showcasing fruit attractively,” Trew shared about the artistic approach that defined their collaborative success. The duo was dedicated to creating an exclusive studio space within Bailey Lauerman, which involved Price and Trew investing in specialized equipment and leveraging Price’s culinary and photographic skills to enhance their creative output.

As Price continues her journey at Bozell, she remains committed to bringing her passion and skills to every project, aiming for more brand collaborations in the near future. “While my passion projects are akin to a hobby, I aim for more brand collaborations,” she stated, stressing that she wants to blend her love for food and art in innovative ways.

Price’s story is a testament to the power of the passion, collaboration, and boundless potential of creative exploration. From Bulgaria to Utah, New York, and Nebraska, her journey reflects an ambitious pursuit of excellence, due in large part to Price’s love and reverence for food.

In a world where the fusion of culinary arts and visual storytelling continues to captivate and inspire, Price stands out as a beacon of innovation and creativity.

To learn more, follow @dessi005 on Instagram and visit dessidesigns.com.

JUNE 2024 // 23 //
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Han’s He

Makin’ Bacon

with World AwardWinner Chef

Michael Hogan has been slicing, dicing, mixing, and making food since he was a child. “I started cooking when I was 12,” shared the chef, who is renowned for his expertise with bacon. “My mother made me learn. She said, ‘You’re going to marry someone who doesn’t know how to cook, so you have to.’”

Learn he did, earning his fi rst job in the kitchen at JB's Big Boy when he was just 16. Over the years, he’s cooked at various establishments plus explored other ventures, including working at hardware stores and hospital supply warehouses as well as running his own mobile DJ service.

“I got tired of cooking everyone else’s stuff,” Hogan admitted. “But I always came back to food. I want to serve people food and they take one bite and stop, take a moment, and say, ‘Th at’s it!’”

Today, he runs a catering company simply called “Chef Michael Hogan,” which offers everything from dinners for private parties to food for corporate events as well as cooking classes. The original name for his culinary enterprise was “Rub Your Meats Spice Your Life,” but eventually, he relented to a moniker change. “When I came onto the scene, everyone’s names were towing that line,” Hogan explained with a twinkle in his eye, “but I started doing classes for Lincoln Public Schools. It’s not really a name you want walking into a school.”

The name that Hogan has established for himself, though, largely comes from his considerable prowess with both barbecue and bacon, which came, in part, thanks to a gift of a smoker for Christmas 11 years ago—his own “Th ats it!” moment of sorts. By 2016, he had entered his fi rst competition, the Omaha Beer and Bac on Festival.

Hogan placed third. “Once you win an award in barbecue, you want to keep competing,” he shared.

He didn’t have to wait long. Th at placement qualified him to represent Nebraska and Omaha at the World Food Championships later that same year. Friends helped Hogan raise money to travel to Orange Beach, Alabama, for the competition, which included 10 categories that year. He worked with his nephew during the competition, and looking back, he admitted, “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into with the Food Championships. We had one dish that did well, but the second was a flop."

Hogan was better prepared during subsequent competitions and knew what to expect. In 2018, he returned to the championships and

entered beer-and-bacon pizza in the structured dish category. It won second place. His bacon brownie entry in the signature dish competition, though, didn’t fare as well. “It came out like a brick, so I put this bacon Bourbon caramel sauce we made on it, and anything else to try to soften it up,” Hogan lamented. "I picked it up trying to fi x it, then wanted to get a picture of it, but my nephew yelled at me, so I ran up and when I put it down [in front of the judges]; there were two seconds left on the clock.”

“But I always came back to food. I want to serve people food and they take one bite and stop, take a moment, and say, ‘That’s it!’”
-Michael Hogan

In 2019 Hogan was faced with a new challenge at the World Championships—creating a Bloody Mary, for bacon’s structured dish category. “I can’t stand tomato juice,” Hogan confessed. “I went around to different bars tasting all these Bloody Marys to try to develop my own.” Eventually, he came up with his own mix that included bacon Bourbon in lieu of vodka, but it didn’t quite meet the mark for the judges.

Hogan persevered. In 2021 he and his team presented judges with a bacon-carrot cake and a pork belly wonton cup, which tied for 10th place. Th is allowed Hogan to compete in the Super Qualifier, which automatically grants the winner a place in the subsequent year’s contest. The theme was “Sliders,” and Hogan was immediately confident. “I said to my team, ‘The pork belly wonton cup scored 94 out of 100—let’s turn that into a slider,’” Hogan shared. Unfortunately, they lost the

tie-breaker. Their hard work and cleverness nevertheless paid off, qualifying Hogan for the 2022 Championships.

Th at year saw Hogan and his team’s creation of bacon bonbons and a bacon pizza with a delicious twist: a crumble topping made of sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, and a chiffonade of basil, all drizzled with an aged balsamic vinegar. The team fi nished sixth overall in the world in the bacon category, again qualifying the team for the next year’s competition.

Then, Hogan ran into more than a challenge—he lived through a nearly fatal incident. Beginning with a bad case of food poisoning that stuck with him for over a week in early October 2023, Hogan “ate two spoonfuls of rice and knew something was wrong.” Next thing he knew, Hogan passed out. “I just remember things getting black, and I woke up on the floor and saw I had internal bleeding going on,” he recalled.

A few days in the ICU led to a diagnosis of diverticulitis, an infl ammation or infection of the small pouches in the digestive tract. Hogan’s loss of consciousness was due to a blood vessel bursting, which caused internal bleeding. “The doctors said if I hadn’t woken up [and called 911], I would have bled to death,” he recalled, sharing that he had lost a fourth of his blood. “I was supposed to leave for the Food Championships on November 6th,” he continued. “I’d been really sick and had to use some vacation days so I didn’t have much money coming in…When I went to the doctor on November 3rd, she said, ‘I don’t want you to go, but I know you’re going to go.’

“‘Doc, I just need to go,’ I said.” Hogan paused and then admitted with a chuckle, “So yeah, I went. I went on November 6.”

It had been less than a month since he had almost died.

Because of the fall, Hogan acquired some nerve damage in his shoulder after he lost consciousness. He therefore had very little range of motion in his arm and struggled to open his hand. “I couldn’t even lift my left arm, but I still could use my hand when needed to. I couldn’t really chop stuff or hold anything. My sous-chefs really took care of me,” he shared.

Th at wasn’t his only challenge. The 2023 Food Championships came with a couple rule changes: fi rst of all, the judges would only take the top seven contestants into the fi nals, instead of the top 10. The competition also allowed master judges to walk around during the process. They would then move contestants up to the top seven.

JUNE // 27 // 2024
PHOTOGRAPHY
ADVENTURE // STORY BY GEORGE STEVENS
//
BY BILL SITZMANN // DESIGN BY RENEE
LUDWICK

ADVENTURE

Hogan’s fi rst dish was a take on the combination of a croissant and a donut, referred to as a “cronut,” which tied him and his team for seventh place; the tiebreaker was a popularity contest—people paid to enter, tasted the food, and voted for the winner in this two-day event, dubbed the “Sam’s Club Bite Club.” Contestants were told to choose at least three ingredients from a list of five: animal crackers, bacon, pancake mix, chicharrón, and syrup. Hogan infused coffee into a Bourbon, drizzled it on the graham crackers, mixed the bacon with a caramel sauce, then frosted it with a low-sugar cream cheese frosting so it tasted more like a marscapone, a creation he dubbed “tiramizoo” a whimsical nod to the anima l crackers.

Hogan's culinary inventiveness paid off : he won seventh place and went on to win the coveted fourth place for his bacon bonbons.

Day two of the contest brought some challenges but was an overall success. “We didn’t have time to go to the store and create another recipe,” Hogan said. “We had the stuff to make the bacon bonbons again, so that’s what we did.” They changed the bacon Bourbon to a regular Bourbon to infuse in the chocolate ganache and caramel. “One judge said, ‘I don’t know how you made this in about an hour and a half,’” he recalled.

The strategy worked. Hogan’s team left with a fourth place title in the bacon category.

Being ranked fourth in the world for bacon isn’t enough for Hogan. Ever competitive, the award winner is already planning for this year’s World Food Championships, which take place during early November in I ndianapolis.

"Cooking is my outlet, and cooking has grounded me,” Hogan reflected. “Moving up every year once you win, you want to keep doing it. I know I’m almost there— you’re on that little lip there where you’ll be fi rst. I’ve defi nitely had times when I could have just given up, and I refuse to. The competition part of it is about me fi nding my way.”

To learn more, visit chefmichaelhogan.com.

8 pm CT, Monday, June 17

// 28 // JUNE 2024
NEW SEASON

Outlandia

ONE OF OMAHA’S BEST MUSIC FESTS

Bands. Two days. One fantast ic festival.

In its third year, the Outlandia Festival promises great music, great food, and great fun. With Maha Music Festival on a hiatus, Outlandia is stepping in, up, and beyond with entertain ment galore.

“What really makes [Outlandia] unique is the location,” said Tyler Owen, co-founder of Outlandia, and CEO and President of

Owen Holdings Co, a presenting sponsor of the festival. “It’s at the Old Sokol Park, just south of Downtown Omaha on Highway 75, right where the Platte and Missouri Rivers meet. There’s beautiful, sprawling native grasses and large trees, which feels so wonderful when you’re in the midst of summer.”

Though the location is seemingly out of the way of civilization, the Outlandia campgrounds are actually not far from shops and restaurants. “Last year, I went to get a

coffee in Omaha, and I was back within 10 minutes,” Owen said. “It was great.”

Unless you forgot something, there really is no reason to leave the festival site. There will be plenty of local and regional food and beverages available for purchase with something for everyone no matter your diet ary choice.

“The food last year was incredible,” Owen recalled, remembering food vendors like DANTE, a popular pizzeria in Omaha, or Wookie Dogs from Chicago. “And Hanke Hall is a meeting place right in the middle of it all, where people can take a break from the sun in the air conditioning while enjoying amazing food or exchanging stories with fellow Outlandians from around t he country.”

Taking place August 9th and 10th this year, Outlandia’s headliners include The Flaming Lips, The Head And The Heart, and The Revivalists. Men I Trust, Dinosaur Jr., Buffalo Tom, and Omaha’s own The Faint also join the lineup, among others.

Camping overnight is available for those looking for that authentic festival experience. Camp Outlandia is on the site of the original Falconwood Park, and the reception hall transforms into camp central complete with potable water, flushable restrooms, and refreshments including alcoholic beverages for purchase since no outside alcohol is allowed on park premises during Outlandia.

As a special treat, on Saturday the 10th, Outlandia will have breakfast/brunch from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. with Bloody Marys and mimosas for those staying in Camp Outlandia.

With a combination of general admission, VIP, and Ultra VIP tickets, as well as single day and weekend passes available, it’s easy to customize your Outlandia trip to meet your specific needs and desires. Snag an exclusive festival T-shirt and poster with an Ultra VIP ticket, as well as a free pizza from Dante, three free drinks at the VIP bar, and exclusive access to the Camp Outlandia campground.

The festival lasts until midnight on each night, followed by an after party both nights that will last until 2:00 a.m. for those who enjoy extra partying (yes, the bar will still be open). “We’ll just keep growing there’s almost no limit to how big we can grow this,” Owen said. “It’s different than Maha; it feels more ‘campy,’ almost like you’re at summer camp. It just has so much more elbow room and space and a wonderful Nebraska way to it.”

JUNE 2024 // 29 //
To learn more, visit outlandiafe s tival.com. SPONSORED PROFILE // 14 Fal conwood Park Bellev ue, Nebraska
Story by Cl audia Moomey

"OPERATION "OPERATIONOTHERS" OTHERS"

Catholic Schools Program Takes on Holiday Food Insecurity

Operation Others Prayer

Wonderful and merciful God, you gather us here to perform your will.

Guide us in our decisions.

Keep our hearts open and let us never forget that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do for you.

Help us, Lord, to be compassionate; to serve selflessly, and to grow in our understanding for your will for us.

Lead us and guide us; to act more justly, love more deeply, and serve more freely as we try to live in your image today and all of the days that lie ahead.

Amen

BY LEO ADAM BIGA

PHOTOGRAPHY BY SARAH LEMKE

DESIGN BY JOEY WINTON

// 30 // JUNE 2024
STORY

his prayer, penned by Kevin Purcell, a Prep graduate, former Operations

Others core team member, a longtime moderator and father of other core team members, beautifully encapsulates the student-led effort, established in 1967 to provide food assistance to families at Christmas and educate others about food insecurity.

The endeavor launched at the Catholic allboys high school when, Prep lore has it, a Jesuit priest returned from a wild turkey hunting trip with excess birds. Phone calls identified people in need, and volunteers gathered enough items to go with the turkeys to feed over 5 0 families.

Since serving others is a core Catholic value and hunger an ongoing issue, what began as a one-off relief initiative morphed into an annual tradition. Close to six decades later, those extra turkeys have multiplied into a holiday miracle for many local families. Last Christmas, students served over 1,000 families–an average of 5,000 people.

Expanding to this kind of level required more logistics and resources, which led Prep to partner with Catholic Charities of Omaha, corporations, and parishes.

“It is a communal effort,” explained Prep Campus Ministry director Dave Lawler, himself a Prep Class of 1995 graduate. “Our limitations are simply what we’re able to collect and the time we have to make the deliveries. Sadly, the need is greater than what we’re able to provide.”

“Between Catholic Charities, parish-school partners, and corporate partners, there’s so much generosity,” added Operations Others director Jerry Kinney, who also graduated in 1995 and is today a Prep faculty member and the director of retreats.

Hill Bros. trucking company is an example of that kind of generosity. The business provides a semi-trailer truck for the 1,200-1,400 turkeys and the refrigeration needed to keep them cold. “We load it up and they provide all the propane for the protein,” K inney said.

Lozier, Heubel-Shaw Material Handling Omaha, and Joe’s Towing Service provide forklift drivers and supplies. Rotella’s Bakery donates 2,600 bread loaves. Liberty Packaging provides materials to bundle food. Roberts Advertising supplies decorative, reusable tote bags.

Operation Others has also grown beyond Prep. Today, seven other Catholic high schools participate in the program: Roncalli Catholic High School, Gross Catholic High School, Skutt Catholic High School, Marian High School, Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, Mercy Catholic High School, and Mount Michael Benedictine School. These students additionally volunteer at the Omaha Food Bank and Juan Diego Center, take calls from program enrollees, and make food deliveries. Even elementary students at several Catholic schools get involved by creating handmade gift cards to personalize the de livery bags.

The procurement, storing, packing, and delivering entails much coordination. As the founding school, Prep serves as the headquarters for Operation Others, and the expansive campus is where students store food and fill bags and cars line up on delivery day. Drivers deploy to dozens of zip codes, an indication of how widespread the need is. Young people and adults alike venture into unfamiliar areas to provide for families in need.

“It’s just neat for them to get out in the city and go see completely different places they’ve never been to,” Lawler observed. “A family may speak Spanish, so they get to practice speaking Spanish. There’ve been deliveries to people down the street from me, and there may be somebody down the street from you who’s reached out for help. So there’s also that perspective of the fact that you don’t know people’s circumstances.”

Creighton Prep senior Theo Oswald, decided to attend Prep after learning about the community engagement mission on a school tour. Today an Operation Others student leader, Oswald said, “We’re providing something unique and valuable for the Christmas season separate from food banks. We’re also primarily raising awareness for food insecurity.”

“It’s a delivery of food around Christmas, so we’re not solving the bigger problem here,” said Kinney. “But it does give students that exposure to think about food insecurity.

Doing a service project for others will hopefully form their becoming people of service when they move onto college and into the ir careers.”

Schools connecting for a common cause inspires Kinney. “The schools spend a lot of time competing in academics and athletics, and that’s all great, but it’s also beautiful to see through this project where they collaborate and come togethe r,” he said.

“I think myself and a lot of my peers have been really affected by it in a positive way,” said Prep junior Andrew Lawler, whose father is the Prep Campus Ministry director. “It outreaches to the community in a way that is ve ry special.”

Students like Andrew and fellow Prep junior Jack Van Moorleghem consider Operation Others a living expression of the gospel’s call to serve others and fulfill the Jesuit credo to be “Men for Others.”

It’s also t heir legacy.

Van Moorleghem’s father, Sean, who graduated from Prep in 1996, participated in Operation Others as a student and continued to do so when Jack was a child. “He influenced me in that way, and I carried on the tradition,” Van Moorle ghem shared.

Andrew said his father similarly influenced him to carry on the tradition. “I remember going on deliveries from a very young age, so that’s how I was first exposed to it,” Lawler said.

Off-season pantry visits allow students to see for themselves the size and urgency of the need. Encounters with families experiencing food insecurity bring the issue even closer to home. “It helps to provide more context around the need we’re responding to,” Lawler explained.

“No doubt, it is an eye-opening experience at least for me it was, and I hear a bunch of people say it is,” O swald added.

“Going into those areas and putting a name to a face and giving them food is a very humbling experience,” Van Moorleghem continued. “It’s very reassuring of their dignity. Everyone deser ves to have that dignity.”

Going into those areas and putting a name to a face and giving them food is a very humbling experience.
Jack Van Moorleghem

Each year, the schools involved in Operation Others hold spring food drives. A core team of students meets to organize the action steps for the remainder of the year. For example, during October's Trickor-Treat for Cans event, students canvas through neighborhoods to solicit donations of canned goods. A Turkey Drive collects the birds. A guest from the social services arena additionally helps to frame the need for students. Last year, it was a representative from Tog ether Omaha.

Call-In Day, the first Saturday in November, finds students manning a phone bank to enroll people calling in who’ve learned about the program at food pantries. “People calling in share their stories. You hear a lot of different circumstances,” Lawler said.

“Throughout the process we are making direct contact with the food insecure,” Oswald added. “It’s a different experience to be in contact and to understand. It definitely changes your mind about service.”

Students are committed enough to package food between final exams, a significant sacrifice for high school teens, given their little free time.

“It’s just inspiring to work with the young people who have so much energy for this project and so much willingness to give up their weekends,” K inney said.

During delivery week, parent associations and others provide meals to volunteers. On delivery day, coffee, hot chocolate, and pastries are provided to volunteers who line their cars up outside Prep to begin their routes.

“I think Operation Others has been a life-changing experience because it shows me what a group of dedicated people can do to have a very big impact in helping people out,” Oswald said. “It’s a very powerful message I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”

This sentiment returns directly to the final lines of the “Operation Others Prayer:”

Lead us and guide us; to act more justly, love more deeply, and serve more freely as we try to live in your image today and all of the days that lie ahead.

Ame n, indeed.

To learn more, visit creightonprep.org/ campus-ministry/opera tion-others.

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North Omaha Woman Brought a Taste of Pa ris to Omaha

arah Helen Tolliver Mahammitt is remembered today as a legend in North Omaha. Born around 1873, the AfricanAmerican woman transcended race barriers to run a successful catering business that she founded with her husband, omas, in 1905. During her time in Omaha, Mahammitt catered such prominent social events as the wedding of Violet Joslyn to David Walter Magowan in 1913. She also provided refreshments for guests at the Knights of Ak-SarBen coronations at the original Ak-Sar-Ben Den on North 20th Street for over a decade. Mahammitt decided to retire in 1927 and embarked on a tour of Paris, although her trip to the famous French city was not the kicko to retirement she had expected.

Instead, the fateful holiday led her down a path toward quite t he opposite.

e culinary scene is, and always has been, an aspect of French culture for which the country is famed. Mahammitt experienced this herself when she was taken in by Le Cordon Bleu, the legendary culinary school where Julia Child later studied. Enrolled in French cuisine and language classes simultaneously, Mahammitt quickly expanded her recipe repertoire. “My biggest trouble was the measuring system,” she wrote. “ e French measure nothing. ey weigh everything.”

After taking courses at Le Cordon Bleu, Mahammitt returned to her home town on a mission: to bring the delights of European cooking to African American women in Omaha. She opened e Mahammitt School of Cookery, where she taught classes, often free of charge, out of her home at 2703 Binney Street to ensure that all women who desired to expand their recipe collections could do so. An advertisement for the school read: “ e Mahammitt School of Cookery/Day and Evening Classes/Every Woman Needs is Training.” e school reportedly educated some 1,000 students before closing its doors in 1942. After omas died in 1950, Mahammitt na lly retired.

Her enduring legacy, however, lies with her famous cookbook, “Recipes and Domestic Service: e Mahammitt School of Cookery.” Published in 1939, the book purposely focused on non-Southern food and avoided dishes associated with AfricanAmerican culture. e foreword provided Mahammitt’s credentials, her goals, and how she amassed recipes and included an explanation of the book’s organization.

“For convenience, I have divided my book into four parts,” it began. “In the rst part are included cooking facts every cook should know; in the second, general and specialized recipes; in the third part, which is somewhat more formal, directions for correct domestic service; and in the fourth, directions for catering.”

Mahammitt recognized that in addition to Black maids being already familiar with their own culinary heritages, her knowledge of European-style cooking would greatly bene t maids in service of white households. As the title suggested, Mahammitt’s book included tips on household servants’ duties and how they should best attend to employers and their guests both e ciently and respectfully.

During a time when racial segregation still existed, Mahammitt recognized the necessity of being a good chef but not stealing the hostess’ spotlight. “Remember to be tactful in bringing your superior knowledge into play,” she advised. “You must save her from error in the eyes of her guests as well as save your reputation.”

Mahammitt is remembered today not only for her cooking, but also for her belief in sharing her expertise. “If the best cookery is to be attained,” she wrote in the foreword to her cookbook, “we must share our knowledge and not be like the cook of whom her friends remarked, when she had passed to the Great Beyond, ‘Here lies a wonderful cook, who has taken so much pleasure of her life with her.’”

When Mahammitt did “take so much pleasure of her life with her” at age 87 on November 26, 1956, in a local hospital following a month-long illness, the Omaha World-Herald headline read: “Prominent Caterer Died.” e obituary continued: “For 45 years her culinary abilities graced the cit y’s tables.”

roughout her career, Mahammitt did not believe in “secret ingredients” or keeping family recipes hidden from the world; her love for culinary arts intersected with her love for people, resulting in the spread of her recipes. “Recipes and Domestic Service” now sells on Amazon and other bookselling websites for around $1,500.

In the spirit of sharing her knowledge with Omahans, here is a basic bread recipe from Mahammitt’s cookbook :

HISTORY | Story by Claudia Moomey | Photography by Sarah Lemke | Desgin by Joey Winton
// 34 // JUNE 2024

4 tsp. baking powder

2 cups flour

1 heaping t p. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

4 tsp. baking powder

3/4 cup milk

1 heaping t p. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

2 t p. bu er

2 t p. sh tening

2 eggs

2 t p. bu er

2 t p. sh tening

Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, w k in bu er and sh tening. Beat eggs. Mix eggs and milk. Stir in dry ingredients. Have a pan about 12 by 8 well greased. Pour in ba er. Bake 20 to 30 minutes in a 375 to 400 degree oven. Serve hot and cut in squares. Nice f Sunday m ning eakfast. I made this when a girl. Serve with sausage and ied apples. It’s good.

Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, w k in bu er and sh tening. Beat eggs. Mix eggs and milk. Stir in dry ingredients. Have a pan about 12 by 8 well greased. Pour in ba er. Bake 20 to 30 minutes in a 375 to 400 degree oven. Serve hot and cut in squares. Nice f Sunday m ning eakfast. I made this when a girl. Serve with sausage and ied apples. It’s good.

Omaha’s Alluring Appetizers Amuse Your Bouche Amuse Your Bouche

// 36 // JUNE 2024
Story by Cl audia Moomey Photography by Sarah Lemke Design by Rac hel Birdsall

A Feature

Amuse-bouche. It’s the French word for appetizer that combines amuser (“amuse”) and bouche (“mouth”). It literally translates as “amuse the mouth,” and that’s just what amuse-bouches, or appetizers, are meant to do tickle the tongue in preparation of the main gust atory event.

Whether you’re craving American classics or have an affinity for foreign foods, Omaha boasts a considerable range of world cuisines. Organized by type, here is Omaha Magazine’s guide to some of the best appetizers in the city, each one certain to get your taste buds tingling and stoma ch rumbling.

JUNE 2024 // 37 //

Italian Spezia

3125 S 72nd St.

speziarestaurant.com

Spezia is ready to make your date night, casual lunch, or fine dining experience a success with outdoor seating, reservations, walk-ins, romantic booths, and event rooms. Since its inception, Spezia has shared the owners’ love of Italian food with Omaha, including Fried Spicy Calamari, which comes with pepperoncini, roasted red and banana peppers, olive oil butter garlic, and coconut shrimp, served with chil i marmalade.

Cascio’s Steakhouse

1620 South 10th St.

casciossteakhouse.com

For over 65 years, Cascio’s has been serving some of the finest steaks and other Italian fare in Omaha. Their famous spaghetti sauce simmered for 7 hours in a 60-gallon kettle has been a customer go-to since they opened their doors. Try their Toasted Ravioli covered in crispy breading served with mar inara sauce.

Mangia Italiana

6516 Ir vington Road mangiaitaliana.com

A complete dining establishment with a venue for weddings, rehearsal dinners, and corporate events, Mangia Italiana offers classic and modern Italian fare for dine-in, carryout, and catering. Try their Breaded Mozzarella Wedges with Marinara or Fresh Dough with either cinnamon sugar or olive oil, parmesan cheese, and spices for a mouth-wat ering start.

Pasta Amore e Fantasia

11027 Prairie Brook Rd. pastaamore.com

Pasta Amore e Fantasia is the life work of Chef Calgero Lillo “Leo” Fascianella. Born in San Cataldo, Sicily, in 1956, he emigrated with his parents to the United States in 1972. Enjoy Chef Leo’s Sicilian “edible paintings,” including appetizers like Taleggio Garlic Bread, Caprese, and Italian Popc orn.

// 38 // JUNE 2024

SPEZIA

feature » APPETIZERS
Fried Spicy Calamari

IZAKAYA KOJI

Chasu bun pork belly, kewpie, hoisin, and pickle

Japanese

Jinya Ramen Bar

7010 Dodge St. jinyaramenbar.com

Tomo Takahashi came to the United States in 2010 and soon discovered the classic ramen dish he enjoyed daily in Japan was missing in the land of opportunity; so he took that opportunity to create his own restaurant dedicated to the dish of noodles and broth that was so common in his hometown. Tomo set up shop in California and has since expanded across the country; now Omaha can enjoy their takoyaki (octopus balls), gyoza (fried pork dumplings), and Jinya’s signature Impossible Bun, made with “impossible” meat (from plants), guacamole, cucumber, and vegan mayonnaise.

Izakaya Koji

8718 Pacific St. izakayakoji.com

Savory spices and rich sauces culminate in rice, noodles, and meat to produce the most famous of Asian flavors at Koji. Appetizers include the Chasu bun pork belly, kewpie, hoisin, and pickle; the Tsukune Yakitori meatball and egg yolk sauce; Shishito Japanese peppers, garlic, soy, and lemon; and their famous Koji q, featuring smacked cucumbers with soy ch ili.

Greek

Greek Islands

3821 Center St. greekislandsomaha.com

Opektika is the formal word for “appetizers” in the Greek language. Greek Islands’ famous opektika include Flaming Saganaki, an imported Greek cheese cooked golden brown and served flaming at the table, and Sikotakia, or chicken livers baked in the Greek tradition. Order yourself some ouzo, raise your glass, and c heer, “Opa!”

feature » APPETIZERS // 40 // JUNE 2024

Jim & Jennie’s

Greek Village

3026 N 90th St.

jimandjennies.com

Dine-in and carry-out options make Jim & Jennie’s as convenient as can be. Authentic Greek dishes complemented by a full bar make this restaurant a favorite in Omaha. Appetizers include Dolmades stuffed grape leaves filled with ground beef and rice, topped with a creamy egg lemon sauce served with pita bread, and Mezedes Pikilia sautéed chicken and pork loin with hot peppers, garlic wine, and lemon juice.

Seafood

Sand Point

655 N 114th St.

sandpointomaha.com

When quality seafood is discovered in landlocked Nebraska, it’s something to sing about! Sand Point boasts delicious oceanic treats that are just waiting to be savored, including Lobster Arancini, a creamy cheesy lobster risotto breaded and fried and served with Old Bay remoulade and lemon g arlic aioli.

Charlie’s on the Lake

4150 S 144th St.

charliesonthelake.net

Taking reservations and walk-ins, Charlie’s on the Lake is known for their quality seafood in the heart of Omaha. With beautiful outdoor seating and a view of a lake, as its name suggests, Charlie’s makes for a lovely outing. They boast unique appetizers such as Fried Grouper Fingers lightly breaded fresh grouper served with home-made tartar sauce, and their famous Bang Bang Shrimp, fried and tossed in a spicy sweet sauce.

Isla del Mar

5101 S 36th St.

2502 S 133rd Plaza

isladelmarrestaurante.com

Fresh Mexican seafood dishes are yours to enjoy at Isla del Mar! With appetizers such as tostadas with pulpo, marlin, and mantarraya (octopus, marlin, and stingray), this unique seafood experience is a musttry for fans of fish and fun atmospheres. Try their Super Botana spicy shrimp with scallops, sea snail, shrimp aguachile, boiled shrimp, scallop, octopus, cucumber, onion, and tomato.

ISLA DEL MAR
Super Botana MERCY THAI SoMooSwa

Mercy Thai

4741 S 96th St. mercythairestaurantmenu.com

The marriage of spicy and savory blossoms at Mercy Thai result in unique and irresistible flavor combinations. Appetizers include SoMooSwa fried wheat flour wrapped with beef, potatoes, and onion, and served with sweet chili sauce; and rice balls with garlic, black peppers, sweet soy sauce, clear noodles, and pork, served with cabbage, cucumber, and peppers.

Mai Thai

2279 S 67th St. B. 14618 W Center Rd. maithaiomaha.com

Mai Thai owner and chef Preeda Joynoosaeng has invested incredible time, energy, and travel to continue to evolve and develop unique recipes for his restaurants. His Mango Crab Rangoon with seasoned cream cheese, mango, and pieces of real crab has garnered rave revie ws in Omaha.

Sports Bars

Varsity Sports Cafe

Three Omaha area locations varsityromancoinpizza.com

Watching your favorite athletes compete is never complete without the complement of good food. Pre-game with Varsity’s classics like Mozzarella Breadsticks with marinara sauce and moist Chicken Wings with a variety of sa uce options.

DJ’s Dugout

Seven Omaha area locations djsdugout.com

Voted Omaha’s #1 Sports Bar, DJ’s Dugout is locally and Vietnam Veteran-owned. Their seven locations deliver on the promise of tasty small plates to get you and your team through that losing streak or help celebrate the big win. Served with salsa, their famous Super Bowl Nachos serve three to four people and comprise flour or corn tortilla chips, beef, pulled pork, or grilled chicken, nacho cheese, cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, tomatoes, green onions, and jalapeños.

DJ'S

Super

Thai
DUGOUT
Bowl Nachos feature » APPETIZERS

SEAN O'CASEY'S PUB

Cheddar Potato Skins
feature » APPETIZERS
Bleu Cheese Potato Skins

Clancy’s Pub

2905 S 168th St.

clancyspubomaha.com

Experience weekly trivia night with prizes at Clancy’s while enjoying their Reuben Eggrolls and Loaded Nachos. With televisions lining the walls, there is no angle at which the big game ca n be missed.

Brazen Head Irish Pub

319 N 78th St.

“A place where friends can gather,” Brazen Head was created to emulate the traditional pubs of the Emerald Isle. It accordingly offers not only a venue for parties, but legendary Irish Nachos, corn tortillas or waffle fries topped with ground beef, green onions, jalapeños, peppers, and cheese sauce, and Emerald Isle Bleu Chips, crunchy kettle chips tossed in spicy buffalo sauce and topped with bleu cheese crumbles, bacon, and green onion.

Sean O’Casey’s Pub

2523 S 140th Ave. seanocaseyspub.com

Located jut north of Oakview Mall, Sean O’Casey’s is a comfortable neighborhood Irish pub that is well known for their Reuben sandwich and homemade soups. Try their famous Cheddar Potato Skins

Pub Grub
brazenheadpub.com

Indian

Saffron Urban Indian Kitchen

6706 Frances St.

saffronurbankitchen.com

When Executive Chef Diwesh Bhattarai first came to the United States from Nepal, he worked as a dishwasher while earning his culinary degree. Now co-owner of Saffron, he shares his love for Indian cuisine, with his hometown flavors and culinary schooling coalescing into one restaurant that offers appetizers like Papadam, Samosas, and their well-known Masala Crab cakes made with crab, garam masala, and sweet y ogurt sauce.

Kinaara

120 Regency Pkwy

kinaaraomaha.com

Kinaara, meaning “the edge” in Hindi, is one of the many accomplishments of chef Ashish, who specializes in Biryani and South Indian cuisine. His Masala Fries waffle sweet potato fries topped with tikka masala sauce and choice of Paneer, chicken, or tofu, topped with mint chutney, tamarind chutney, pickled onion, and cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese can be converted to a vegan dish by opting for tofu and all fixings ex cept cheese.

Chinese Buddha Belly Chinese Food

13748 P St. 20576 Highway 370 buddhabellygretna.com

With locations in Gretna and in the heart of Millard, Buddha Belly offers large portions of traditional Chinese cuisine. Appetizers include classics like egg rolls, rangoons, and wontons.

// 46 // JUNE 2024

SAFFRON URBAN INDIAN KITCHEN

Papadam, Samosas, Masala Crab Cakes

feature » APPETIZERS

Rose Garden

9731 Q St.

rosegardenomaha.com

Rose Garden’s starters, including butterfly shrimp, fried dumplings, and steamed dumplings, are sure to please and whet appetites.

China Wok

12005 W Center Rd.

omahachinawok.com

Try China Wok’s Chinese Donuts for a unique twist on traditional Ch inese meals.

Mexican

Fernando’s Cafe and Cantina

380 N 114th St. & 7555 Pacific St. fernandosomaha.com

Serving authentic Sonoran-style dishes, Fernando’s traces their recipes all the way back to Jalisco, Mexico. The family-friendly establishment uses a traditional Mexican recipe to make their tortillas by hand every morning, with their tomato-based homemade hot sauce getting its distinctive kick from a secret blend of peppers and chilies. Chefs Mario, Martin, Pascual, and Antonio do their best to create an authentic taste for patrons, and that includes the "Fiesta Trio Di” starter, which comes smothered with fresh Pico de Gallo, guacamole, and blanco dip with a serving of corn or flour tor tilla chips.

La Mesa Mexica n Restaurant

Seven locations

la-mesa.com

Voted Best Mexican Restaurant for 19 years, La Mesa strives for outstanding customer service as part of a quality dining experience. La Mesa features Mexican specialties created from family recipes, an extensive selection of premium margaritas, and a collection of over 100 tequilas. Restaurant locations are decorated to promote a fun atmosphere and create a unique customer dining experience for the entire family. Fresh ingredients are a priority, creating irresistible appetizer plates like the Jalap eño Poppers.

ROSE GARDEN

Butterfly Shrimp

Fried Dumplings

Steamed Dumplings

// 48 // JUNE 2024

5914 Center St. | Omaha

930 5th Ave. | Council Bluffs primosmodernmexican.com

The idea of Primo's Mexican Restaurant was born with the vision of three "primos" (cousins) who wanted to reawaken their family's recipes and bring back the taste of their delicious Mexican dishes. Great grandparents, Luis and Carmen Rocha, were immigrants from Mexico and settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Primo’s serves a variety of authentic Mexican dishes along with American favorites with a south-of-the-border twist, such as Papas Locos fresh homemade fries, topped with choice of beef or chicken, (other toppings), sour crea m and salsa.

El Vallarta Mexican Restaurant

Four Omaha area locations elvallartamenu.com

El Vallarta was built based around the simple idea that everyone needs a healthy escape now and then. This sanctuary of wholesome food has served happy customers for years. Try their Queso Fundido (queso with chorizo) and Guacamole Salad.

JUNE 2024 // 49 // Primo’s
Modern Mexican
feature » APPETIZERS

Jams, an Omaha restaurant legacy, is an American Grill that offers a melting pot of different styles and varieties of dishes containing high-quality ingredients paired with the optional cold drink or creative cocktail. Sample Jams’ Lettuce Wraps, a delicious appetizer featuring citrus-and-soy marinated grilled chicken, peanut glaze, crisp romaine, shiitake mushrooms, red pepper, shredded radish and carrots, toasted almonds, and pineapple sweet chili sauce.

Mouth of the South Southern Grub

Mouth of the South, as this restaurant’s name suggests, is committed to providing the best authentic Southern Cajun cuisine in Omaha. With a mission to “bring New Orleans to Omaha,” they strive to create an

// 50 // JUNE 2024 HILLSBOROUGH 13808 W. Maple Rd. Omaha, NE 68164 402.445.4647 RALSTON SQUARE 5360 S. 72nd Street Omaha, NE 68127 402.733.4441 VILLAGE POINTE 302 N. 168th Circle Omaha, NE 68118 402.505.7474 DUNDEE 119 N. 51st Street Omaha, NE 68132 402.502.5593 WWW.THEDENTISTSOMAHA.COM SELECTED BY THEIR PEERS AS THANK YOU FOR VOTING US BEST FAMILY DENTIST 17 YEARS IN A ROW! 4701 SOUTH 25TH STREET • OMAHA, NE 68107 • (402) 731-1137 For programs and events check our website www.elmuseolatino.org
Modern American Three Omaha area locations jamseats.com
American Jams
Plz. motsomaha.com
1111 Harney St. 16909 Lakeside Hills
feature » APPETIZERS

Twisted Cork

10730 Pacific St. twistedcorkbistro.com

Aiming to bring “a little bit of Seattle to Omaha,” Twisted Cork boasts locally sourced ingredients, handcrafted ales, and Pacific Northwest wines. Pair one of these wines with their small plates, like Hawaiian Ahi Nachos or their famous Crying Crackers Piedmontese flank steak, cucumber, pistachio, fiery Jaew sauce, kimchi, and rice crackers.

Pine & Black Bistro

248 Olson Dr. pineandblackbistro.com

Taking their name from the translation of “pinot noir,” Pine & Black Bistro offers various dishes for “shoot-from-the-hip” diners or parties of guests with differing tastes, ranging from seafood to lavosh to vegan plates. The G.O.A.T. is sure to please all with warm goat cheese, everything spice, garlic chips, sesame seeds, cauliflower bread, and strawberr y-hot honey.

Pacific Eating House

1130 Sterling Ridge Dr. pacific-eatinghouse.com

“Always Natural, Always Wild” is Pacific Eating House’s slogan, emphasizing their natural

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t's a Major League Indoor Soccer (MLIS) rule: teams must provide meals for visiting teams in Omaha, as well as food for the home team, a mandate that the Omaha Kings Fútbol Club, Omaha's indoor professional soccer club, takes very seriously. As opposed to the fast-food pizza provided for Omaha matches in past years (and generally frowned upon by the Kings FC players when pizza is distributed in other MLIS cities), the switch to local eatery Sgt. Peffer’s Café Italian was well-received this year.

“They have really, really good Italian food,” said Kings FC co-owner and chief marketing officer, Natalie Viel, also regarded as the club’s jack-of-all-trades behind the scenes.

Among the 33 players on the roster are those from 11 different countries outside the United States. While intertwined with the Omaha natives, there are a lot of different eclectic tastes and customs to consider.

“We do have a lot of Muslim players, so they don’t eat pork,” Natalie said. “That is something we always have to be cognizant of when we’re ordering food to make sure we have an option for them without pork.”

That also means respecting those who strictly observe Ramadan, which calls for fasting. Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam, took place this year from March 10 through April 9, toward the end of the MLIS reg ular season.

Natalie, her husband Emmanuel “Manny” Viel, her father-in-law Carlos Viel, and Bobby Jaffery are listed as co-owners of the Omaha Kings FC, founded in 2019. Manny Viel was first exposed to indoor soccer while playing for the Omaha Vipers for their single season (2010-11) in the now defunct Major Indoor Soccer League.

care because of a severe accident, Jaffery was thrust into becoming the breadwinner and learned some of life’s hard le ssons early

“Nothing’s going to be handed to you,” he recalled. “You have to go out there and work for it and work on yourself every day continuously to be where you want to be.”

One of Jaffery’s biggest highlights as a player took place in 2021 during an exhibition contest against the overmatched Kansas City Comets, when he looped the ball over the Comets goalkeeper for the overtime game-winner. The goal occurred the same

was ‘blizzarding.’ We had 18 players in one van going to the game, then we went to the w rong field.”

To say that those moments build character is an understatement.

“Those are the moments when you’re like, ‘What is happening?’ You don’t forget,” said Manny, who added that the old van has since been replaced.

Though league contracted from three divisions to one this season, Manny foresees better times with the MLIS acquisition of the National Indoor Soccer League (NISL) and it s six teams.

Nothing's going to be handed to you. You have to go out there and work for it and work on yourself every day continuouslly to be where you want to be.
–Bobby

Jaffery, Omaha Kings FC Co-Owners & Kings Midfielder

Jaffery, a 26-year old Kings FC midfielder, is also active in the insurance business as owner of an Omaha agency. Jaffery doesn’t remember exactly when he came to the U.S. from Afghanistan, but it was in the early 2000’s after 9/11.

“My earliest recollection was probably when I was about 7 or 8 when we were living in these apartments by Millard North High School,” Jaffery said. “There were six of us in one apartment, a two-bedroom, and we had a single mom.”

Jaffery was inspired by his older brothers to play soccer before he played high school and club soccer. For just one semester, he also attended and played at Midland University in Fremont. With his mother disabled and his oldest brother confined to home health

day Jaffery found out his mother, who was in Afghanistan temporarily because his grandmother had passed away, safely escaped during the final U.S. withdrawal under the Biden Adm inistration.

Since 2021, the Kings FC with Jaffery have climbed the MLIS ranks and finished with a 10-1 record to win the Central Division in 2022-23. Manny Viel, 36, was named the league’s coach of the year.

The team’s upward climb in the standings has allowed it to laugh at itself today with instances of less-than-glamorous van travel adventures as it traversed the interstates to places like Chicago, Illinois, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the middle of winter.

“One of the times in Illinois, where we were playing, one of the van tires popped,” Manny remembered. “We had to leave the van. It

After concluding their 2023-24 home schedule at the Off The Wall Indoor Facility in La Vista, the MLIS announced that the league champion would be determined at Omaha’s Baxter Arena with its own version of a final four.

“For us, to host ‘the final four’ has been the hardest thing ever, to get through that obstacle,” said the exasperated Manny of going through all the proper channels with the city of Omaha and the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

While seeking to maintain their standards as a MLIS championship contender, the Kings FC also serve as a marketing tool for the Papillion Soccer Club it owns, which celebrated its 50th year anniversary this year. Often the Kings FC players work as mentors for the budding boys and girls soccer players on the club.

From seeing it through his players on the Kings FC, Manny wants the young soccer players to know, “The American dream is still alive.”

Good food for thought.

For more information about the Omaha Kings Fútbol Club, visit omahakingsfutbol.com.

THE UNlIKElY OENOPHIlE

PROFILE // STORY BY KIM CARPENTER // PHOTOGRAPHY BY SARAH LEMKE // DESIGN BY JOEY WINTON

ark Gudgel is sitting on a bar stool in his wine cellar an immaculate, narrow room with white-washed brick walls lined with bottle after bottle of wine. The temperature hovers around a chilly, but ideal, temperature of 55°F.  We sip some champagne as he proceeds to decant a 2018 bottle of cabernet sauvignon made from grapes grown in Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain district. The label depicts cattle a brown bovine surrounded by a black herd with “Gudgel Ranch” printed in artfully arching Italics.

It’s his own wine label, with the artwork a reproduction of a photo taken on his family’s Sandhills cattle ranch. And the wine? It’s an exquisitely smooth cabernet with a gorgeous bouquet and a strong finish.

“Nothing really holds up to a marbled Sandhills steak except a Napa cab,” Gudgel said with a grin before executing a more than generous pour.

The man knows how to set the stage for a n interview.

The 42-year-old father of two is perhaps an unlikely oenophile he’s an assistant professor specializing in Holocaust studies at the College of Saint Mary but wine has long been his labor of love. Literally. “I didn’t know anything about wine for most of my life,” he confessed, “but my wife [Sonja] and I drank it on our first date and most d ates after.”

Those dates eventually turned into a wedding in February 2013 followed by a Napa Valley honeymoon. Gudgel had received a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching to study at the University of London Institute of Education (today, the University College of London), and since he and Sonja would be separated for a time, they decided on a quick trip. “We called my friend Paul who owns Executive Travel in Lincoln, and he said, ‘Well, what about wine country?’”

The couple went, and Gudgel’s love affair with wine was uncorked. “I had no idea what I was getting into going out to wine country,” he shared. “I started looking at the labels of the wines. It was an education, but a wonderful one. And to this day, there’s more 2013 in my cellar than any thing else.”

After the Napa excursion, Sonja started the blog “ITheeWine.com,” for which Gudgel regularly authored a column. “It was quite popular for a while,” he said. “Publishers started reaching out to me and said, ‘Would you write for us?’ and all of a sudden I was getting paid to write, and for an English major, that’s exciting.”

Before he knew it, Gudgel was a regular contributor to wine publications such as Napa Valley Life Magazine, Edible Marin & Wine Country, Food & Spirits Magazine, Vivino, and American Winery Guide. Over the years, he amassed a loyal readership, and he joked that the success was due to his “rapier wit.” After a sip of wine, though, he confessed, “I'm not sure why so many people thought they’d follow me but for a very long time, I was the top ranked wine reviewer on Vivino.”

While Gudgel eventually gave up reviewing wine, he continued to study wine and began pursuing writing about it in a more scholarly fashion. In 2023, he published his first wine book, “The Rise of Napa Valley Wineries: How the Judgment of Paris Put California Wine on the Map.” The title referred to the seminal blind tasting of American and French wines in Paris in 1976. When wines from California defeated the French ones, wine lovers the world over were shocked, and Napa Valley became a leader in the global wine community.

“It wasn't a fluke. The French told us it was a fluke. Other people thought it was a fluke. Robert Parker thought it was a fluke,” Gudgel said of the infamous event and the equally famous wine reviewer. “Never mind the fact that these were French judges who were far more familiar with French wines. Never mind that our wines were the ones that had to be shipped over the ocean, right? No, these were world-class wines, and it wasn’t a fluke. We know it wasn’t a fluke, because time and time and time again after that, the results play out the same way.”

Citing winning wines such as Napa Valley’s Sterling sauvignon blanc, Smith-Madrone's Riesling, and Trefethen’s chardonnay as being among the best “in the whole damn world,” Gudgel continued, “The thing is, these wines win, and then it just keeps happening. At the Great Chardonnay Showdown in Chicago [in 1980], they tasted more than 400 Chardonnays, and four of the top five came out of the United St ates. Four!”

This passion for individual wines translates to Gudgel’s passion for the industry as a whole. He is just as interested in a wine’s mouth feel and bouquet as he is on how climate change affects grape growing and the regenerative practices that vineyards can employ. He’s also quick to dismiss an overly pretentious approach to evaluating wine. Referring to one revered wine reviewer as “an angry troglodyte,” he discussed how experts were too quick to dismiss 2020 vintages because of California wildfires as an example of the pitfalls of such snobbery.

“I’ve tasted 2011s and 2020s from the most prestigious winemakers in the entire country, and they’re extraordinary,” Gudgel said. “And yet, there are people who won’t touch the whole vintages because of cool temperatures in 2011 and the 2020 fires and the fear of smoke taint, but I’ll tell you, I’ve had all these 2011s and 2020s that are just mind blowing. The thing is, if you trust [vintners] to make your wine the rest of the time, you should be grateful that they’re making it in a difficult event. Both are examples of reviewers getting it wrong.”

Indeed, Gudgel is anything but a wine snob, and he’s as quick to embrace a so-called “2 Buck Chuck,” (a term for inexpensive wine that specifically references Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw) as he is a rare vintage. “When people ask me what’s good wine, I say, ‘Whatever you like to drink as long as you can afford it. And, you know, if you love Sutter Home white zinfandel, which is the gateway drug to all wines, then drink that, because it’s $5 to $10 a bottle. That’s awesome. If you love something that costs $5 a bottle, knock yourself out. That's terrific good news for you!

“You know, there are a lot of wines that I love that cost between $250 and $400 a bottle, and I don’t ever drink them because I don't have that kind of money,” he continued. “And if I did, I probably wouldn’t spend it on those. So you know, it really matters what you like, and no one should ever be ashamed that they’re drinking white zinfandel. And if someone turns their nose up, it’s their problem.”

Gudgel brings that quintessentially Nebraskan attitude to his role as the board president for vinNEBRASKA, a nonprofit organization founded in 1989 to celebrate premier wines and nationally recognized winemakers. It also raises funds for local organizations, such as the Stephen Center, which partners with the community, families, and individuals to overcome homelessness, addiction, and mental health challenges. The nonprofit also offers scholarships to people studying for their wine credentials and helps to pay for exam fees. He first became involved with vinNEBRASKA in 2017 as a board member and assumed the leadership role in 2020.

Christa Pichler serves on vinNEBRASKA’s board with Gudgel. She’s known him since high school, when both of them were 4-H camp counselors together. She said she can’t imagine a better person to serve as the organization’s board president. “Mark’s understanding of wine, the wine industry, and wine makers is huge,” she said. “He has the contacts, and he knows how to recruit.”

In early April, Gudgel oversaw vinNEBRASKA’s annual two-day fundraising event, which included a winemakers’ reception featuring 26 wineries and a gourmet dinner on the first night and a wine tasting, dinner, and live and silent auctions the next. Both evenings took place at the Omaha Marriott Downtown and attracted close to 1,000 oenophiles. Combined, the two events raised a record-breaking $482,000 and more than $1.3 million over vinNEBRASKA’s three-year partnership with the Stephen Center. The organization begins a new three-year partnership with Completely KIDS starting in 2025. In early April, the organization also hosted the inaugural Women of Wine Symposium on the College of Saint Mary’s campus, and it is partnering with the Court of Master Sommeliers, which sets the global standard for beverage service within the hospitality industry, for the second ye ar in a row.

Pichler credits these successes with Gudgel’s work ethic and vision. “Mark is very big-picture focused, and he’s always thinking about how to expand and how to offer scholarships

and benefit our charity partner,” she observed. “This is the first year we offered Women of Wine. He’s just so passionate about it.”

For the time being, Gudgel is happy to continue serving as vinNEBRASKA’s board president and promoting the organization and its causes. He’s also writing his second wine book on the Napa Valley’s Oakville AVA, heralded for its meticulously crafted cabernet sauvignons. The tentative title is “The Oakville Chronicles,” and by the time the project is complete, Gudgel will have conducted hundreds of interviews with Oakville residents.

Gudgel turns his attention back to his Gudgel Ranch cabernet sauvignon. “I am not a winemaker. I have a great deal of respect for winemakers, but it’s a very natural thing for someone who appreciates art to wonder if they can make it themselves and to want to be involved in it more thoroughly,” he averred before going on to explain his collaboration with Tom Meadowcraft of Meadowcraft Wines, who helped craft this bottle, and Jean Hoefliger, the Swiss-born director and the founding winemaker at Alpha Omega and currently at AXR Napa Valley. “He’s nicknamed ‘The Swiss Machine’ because he cranks out 100-point wines like a machine,” Gudgel chuckled.

His own wine, Gudgel explained, contains 95% Spring Mountain cabernet sauvignon and 5% Stags Leap petit verdot. “Petit, of course, means what you think it means, right? You’ve got these tiny, concentrated berries that are really punchy, fruity, and tannic, and so they add a structure to this otherwise very beautiful mountain fruit,” he explained before going on to describe the iron rich soil, marine deposits, and sun exposure that all go into creating the grapes in Gudgel Ranch, which he added, will be available in limited supply at select stores like Vino Mas and Corkscrew Wine & Cheese by Christmas. It will also be included on wine menus at V. Mertz, among other venerable local re staurants.

In the meantime, Gudgel plans to continue learning and educating himself about wine. He doesn’t consider himself an expert, dismissing his expertise with a typical Nebraskan humility, “I’m just a guy,” he said with a grin. “I’m not averse to hard work I’m from the Sandhills.”

Columbia Crest Grand Estate (Washington; $10 or less)

Penfold's Koonunga Hills ShirazCabernet (Australia; $10 or less)

Chateau Souverain (Cali fornia; $15)

Phebus Reserva (Patagonia, Argentina; $17)

Barnard Griffin Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Wash ington; $18)

Ravines Maximilien (Finger Lakes, Ne w York; $29)

Trucha rd Cabernet (Los Carneros, Cali fornia; $45)

Yarden (Golan Heights, Israel; $45)

Chateau Meyney (Saint Estephe, Bordeaux; $55)

Sm ith-Madrone (Spring Mountain, Cali fornia; $65)

J. Moss (Napa, Cali fornia; $69)

Chateau Musar (Bekaa Valley, L ebanon; $75)

Volker Eisele (Chiles Valley District, Cali fornia; $75)

Ambassador Plenipotentiary (Red Mountain, Wash ington; $80)

Spottswoode Lyndenhurst (St. Helena, Cali fornia; $90)

Paradig m, Oakville (California; $120)

Chateau D’Issan (Margaux, Bordeaux; $125)

Chateau Pontet-Canet (Pauillac, Bordeaux; $150)

Tierra Roja (Oakville, California; $250)

Remhootge "Soa ring Eagle" Cabernet-Shiraz (South Africa; $18)

Ridge Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mountains; $275)

MacDonald (Oakville, California; allocated)

For more information, visit vinnebraska.com and markgudgel.com.

When people ask me what’s good wine, I say, ‘Whatever you like to drink—as long as you can afford it. And, you know, if you love Sutter Home white zinfandel, which is the gateway drug to all wines, then drink that, because it’s $5 to $10 a bottle. That’s awesome. If you love something that costs $5 a bottle, knock yourself out. That's terrific—good news for you!

GIVING CALENDAR

JUNE 2024

COMPILED BY CLAUDIA MOOMEY

June 1

2024 NEBRASKA WALK TO CURE ARTHRITIS

Benefits: Arthritis Foundation Nebraska

Location: Werner Park — events.arthritis.org

June 1

FLASH TRASH MOB

Benefits:The Blue Bucket Project

Location: inCOMMON Park Ave — bluebucketprojectomaha.com

June 1

ELEVATE 24

Benefits: Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative

Location: Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative — nebraskaearly.org

June 2

OMAHA ROSE SOCIETY’S ROSE DAY AND SHOW

Benefits: Lauritzen Gardens

Location: Lauritzen Gardens — lauritzengardens.org

June 3

GOLF FORE GRANTS 2024

June 2

Benefits: Elkhorn Public Schools Foundation

Location: Champions Run Gold Course — elkhornfoundation.org

FEATURED EVENT

2024 Omaha Summer Arts Festival

BENEFITS: OMAHA SUMMER ARTS FESTIVAL

Location: Aksarben Village —summerarts.org

June 7-9

June 4

For 50 years, the Omaha Summer Arts Festival (OSAF) has been committed to attracting and showcasing an increasingly diverse array of art, music and culinary experiences. OSAF will continue to develop and support arts programs and related initiatives that promote diversity, equity and inclusion in our community. For its 50th anniversary this year, all of your favorites return with 135 artists from throughout the U.S., multiple staging areas featuring dozens of talented local musicians, a huge hands-on Children’s Fair and Young Artist Exhibition, and some of the best food in Omaha.

FREMONT FAMILY FRIENDS

Benefits: Lutheran Family Services

Location: Woodcliff Community Center — onelfs.org/events/ join-us-at-fremont-family-friends-2024/

June 4

BLOODY MARY FEST

Benefits: Ronald McDonald House Location: Omaha West Rotary Club — rmhcomaha.org/events

June 5

TEE IT UP FORE SIGHT GOLF TOURNAMENT AND BLIND GOLFER CLINIC

Benefits: Outlook Enrichment Location: Tiburon Golf Course — outlooken.org

June 5 - 9

USA TRIATHLON MULTISPORT FESTIVAL

Benefits: Omaha Sports Commission Location: Cunningham Lake — omahasports.org/ usat-multisport-festival

June 6

9TH ANNUAL GOLF OUTING

Benefits: Operation Super Jack

Location: Pacific Springs Golf Course — operationsuperjack.org

June

June 6

MPSF ANNUAL GOLF CLASSIC

Benefits: Millard Public Schools Foundation

Location: Tiburon Golf Club — events.golfstatus.com/event/ MPSFGolf/details/registration-details

June 6

LIVE @ LOW END - JIJI

Benefits: Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts

Location: Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts — bemiscenter.org/events/jiji

June 7

NEBRASKA LUTHERAN CAMPUS MINISTRY GOLF SCRAMBLE

Benefits: Nebraska Lutheran Campus Ministry

Location: 3701 S. 70th St. — nelcm.com

June 7

DAEGAN PAGE MEMORIAL HOCKEY TOURNAMENT

Benefits: Corporal Daegan Page Foundation

Location: Moylan Ice Plex — dpmht.org

June 7 ON THE ROAD

Benefits: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands

Location: Steakhouse Omaha — bgcomaha.org

6
// 58 // JUNE 2024

June 7

BLACK TIE AND TAILS

Benefits: Nebraska Humane Society

Location: A View West Shores — nehumanesociety.org

June 7

SOUNDS OF CELEBRATION

Benefits: River City Ringers

Location: Presbyterian Church of the Master — rivercityringers.com

June 7-8

JUNETEENTH STEAMPUNK TEA PARTY

Benefits: House of Afros, Capes, and Curls

June 7-8

Location: North Omaha Music & Arts — steampunkteaparty2024.eventbrite.com

June 8

AT EASE USA’S FORGE AHEAD 5K

Benefits: At Ease USA

Location: Walnut Creek Recreation Area — ateaseusa.org/5k-run/

June 8

HERE’S WHERE WE STAND

Benefits: River City Mixed Chorus

Location: Holland Performing Arts Center — ticketomaha.com/Productions/ here's-where-we-stand

June 8

PEACEFUL HEARTS 2ND ANNUAL GOLF SCRAMBLE

Benefits: Peaceful Hearts Holistic Foundation

Location: Miracle Hill Golf Course — phhf.betterworld.org/events/ peaceful-hearts-golf-scramble-20

June 8

NEBRASKA HOMESCHOOL EXPO & USED CURRICULUM BOOK SALE

Benefits: Nebraska Homeschool - The Home Educators Network, Inc.

Location: 1255 Royal Drive Papillion — nebraskahomeschool.org

June 8

BETTER TOGETHER 5K 2024

Benefits: ABIDE

Location: ABIDE Omaha — abideomaha.org

June 8

2024 BLAZING TRAILS FOR BRAIN INJURY 5K

Benefits: Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska

Location: Chalco Hills Recreation Area — biane.org

June 10

25TH ANNUAL GOODWILL GOLF CLASSIC

Benefits: Goodwill Industries, Inc.

Location: The Player’s Club at Deer Creek — goodwillomaha.org/events/

// GIVING CALENDAR // JUNE 2024 // 59 //
2024 First Place Caterer

COUNSELING CONNECTIONS & ASSOCIATES

Salina Anderson, APRN

Geraldine Alexis, LIMHP, PLADC

Julie Bierman, LCSW, LMHP

Chantel Bruha, LIMHP, LADC

Korrie Conners, LMHP, CSAT

Kirby Davis, LMHP

Peggy Deaver, LIMHP, CPC

Davin Dickerson, APRN

Beth Farrell, LCSW, LIMHP

Dumayi Gutierrez, PhD, LMHP

Lucy Hancock, MA

Charlene Hills, LCSW, LIMHP

KG Langdon, APRN

Mary Loftis, LMHP, CPC

Kim Mueller, LIMHP, CPC

Nicole Obrecht, LIMHP

Kara Schneider, BA

Marty Stoltenberg, APRN-BC

Kristi Tackett-Newburg, PhD, LIMHP

Greg Tvrdik, LIMHP, CPC

Sarah Wenzl, LMHP, CPC

Michele Yanney-Wehbi, LIMHP, CPC

June 11

SWING FOR KIDS GOLF FUNDRAISER

Benefits: Papillion La Vista Community Schools Foundation

Location: Tiburon Golf Club — plcsfoundation.org/events

June 12

HABITAT FORE! HUMANITY

Benefits: Habitat For Humanity of Omaha

Location: Tiburon Golf club — habitatomaha.org/events-page/

June 14

NO MORE EMPTY POTS LEGACY GALA

Benefits: No More Empty Pots

Location: The Venue at Highlander — nmepomaha.org/legacy

June 14

SECOND ANNUAL GOLF TOURNAMENT

Benefits: Apex Community Services

Location: Pacific Springs Golf Course — apexcommunityservices.org

June 14-15

HEALTH PANEL, HEALTH FAIR, AFRICAN COMMUNITY CULTURAL EXCHANGE

Benefits: Femi’s Heart Foundation

Location: Femi’s Heart Foundation and African Immigrant Services — femisheart.org

June 15

OMAHA TAKE STEPS 2024

Benefits: Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation

Location: Werner Park — takesteps.crohnscolitisfoundation.org

June 22

BNBR AT PETSMART

Benefits: Bullies-N-Beyond Resq Inc.

Location: Petsmart on Evans Plaza — bulliesnbeyondresq.com

June 24

THIRD ANNUAL CORE BANK CARES GOLF TOURNAMENT

Benefits: Nebraska Diaper Bank

Location: Champions Run — corebank.com/ golf-tournament

June 27

2024 SUMMER MIND CANDY DIALOGUE

Benefits: Business Ethics Alliance

Location: Creighton University - Mike and Josie Harper Center —members.businessethicsalliance. org/events

// GIVING CALENDAR // June 14 June 24 // 60 // JUNE 2024
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June 27

WINE-D DOWN WITH WINGS: PIZZA, PEARLS & PINOT 2024

Benefits: Wings of Hope Cancer Support Center

Location: Prairie Crossing Vineyard and Winery — wingsofhope.org/wine-ddown

June 27

STRENGTHENING DEMOCRACY AWARDS

Benefits: Civic Nebraska

Location: Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts — civicnebraska.org

June 29

GLOBAL SOUNDS MUSICAL FESTIVAL

Benefits: Canopy South

Location: Upland Park — canopysouth.org

Event times and details are correct as of presstime, but are subject to change.

Omaha Magazine encourages readers to visit venues' websites and/or calling ahead before attending an event or visiting a museum. June 27

// GIVING CALENDAR //
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Helping a Country at War

One Pierogi at a Time

Assumption Ukrainian Catholic Church Raises Funds Through Food

52 Drones. 20 Bullet-Pr oof Plates.

2 R ifle Scopes.

And thousands upon thousands of pierogis.

At the time this article went to press, those numbers represented just a snapshot of what Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, located on the corner of Martha and 16th streets in South Omaha, has been able to accomplish since Vladimir Putin launched a war against Ukraine in February 2022.

Dozens of volunteers gather monthly in the church basement’s kitchen, dutifully donning hairnets and nitrile gloves, to make Ukrainian foods with romantic-sounding Eastern European names. The roster of rotating traditional offerings includes selections like golumpki (cabbage rolls stuffed with ground meat), banderyky (triangular mincemeat pies), borsh (red beet soup), nalysnyky (crepes filled with homemade farmer’s cheese), halushky (egg noodles with bacon and kielbasa), and of course, varenyky, more widely known as pierogis, those dough half-moons typically filled with mashed potatoes and cheese.

Maria Wijtek, 78, volunteers regularly. She arrived in Omaha with her Ukrainian parents in 1951, and although she grew up in the United States, she is ardent in her support of Ukraine. Working briskly to make wedges of banderyky, she estimates that volunteers make approximately 1,500 pierogis per fundraiser. “We raise money for drones, medical supplies for wounded soldiers, for orphans of fallen soldiers,” she said. “A lot of people here still have relatives in Ukraine.”

Marta Bondarenko knows this all too keenly. The 40-year-old mother of three arrived in the U.S. seven years ago, and while she has made Omaha her home, she shows up as often as possible to join in the food preparation. “I do it because I want to help. Ukraine is my Motherland, and it’s a terrible situation,” she explained in a voice softly studded with the percussive consonants of an Ukrainian accent.

For the past two years, they’ve sold this fare during an on-going fundraiser to raise money in support of Ukraine, their beloved Bat'kivshchyna , or “Motherland.” Volunteers began the effort within one month of the invasion, and for a while, held the event weekly before settling into the once-a-month routine. The volunteers, mostly women, begin cooking the Thursday and Friday before Saturday food pickups. They arrive in shifts beginning at 11 a.m. and arrive throughout the day as schedules allow to assist with preparation, which usually wraps up around 8 p.m. Throughout the day, they boil industrial pots of potatoes, blanch scores of cabbage leaves, and roll out endless sections of dough.

As she glanced over at her 9-month-old daughter, Sophia, happily smiling and cooing from her baby walker at the other volunteers, she continued after a deep breath, “President Putin attacks cities all the time, and people are dying. He bombs schools, hospitals it doesn’t matter. My mother, stepfather, father, stepmother, brother, brother-in-law they are a ll in Lviv.”

That familial connection is also what prompted 14-year-old Alex Sharko, an Elkhorn High School freshman, to spend a portion of his spring break filling golumpki Every two to three weeks, he also assists in packing boxes of medical supplies. One such package, sent in August 2022, contained 100 emergency trauma dressings, 200 tourniquets, 100 individual bleeding control kits, and 100 burn dressings. The food drive had raised $9,484 toward those the purchases, perhaps a drop in the bucket toward what is urgently needed, but a life-saving drop nonetheless.

GIVING SPOTLIGHT
JUNE 2024 // 63 //

“My parents are from Ukraine. My grandparents are still in Kiev,” Sharko explained. “I’m here to help out with the effort. I feel like I’m helping the people fighting on the front lines and making a difference.”

That difference comes via working with a network of aid organizations on the ground in Ukraine. Bondarenko pulled out her phone and flipped through texts to show messages of gratitude, all written in Ukrainian. She also shared multiple photos of Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers in combat fatigues, clearly exhausted and somber, posing with boxes of medical supplies and military equipment. She then gestured at a wall displaying the Ukrainian flag, its distinctive cerulean and yellow bands symbolizing the Motherland’s blue skies over golden wheat fields. It includes several signatures in deep black ink, a heartfelt thank-you gift sent from the war-torn Ukrainian front lines to the quiet Omaha church.

“We are buying what the Ukrainian soldiers need,” Bondarenko said, proudly listing humanitarian supplies such as Insulin, glucose monitors, syringes, and other items like over-thecounter flu and cold medicines.

Dr. Olga Taraschenko, 50, is an associate professor in University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Department of Neurological Sciences and the director of UNMC’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Program. Originally from Ukraine, she has been overseeing the gathering and sending of medical supplies 10 packages to date as of March 2024. She is particularly grateful to her fellow volunteers.

“They are dedicated people who are sacrificing their personal and family time,” she said. “Every little effort, no matter how big or how small, advances us towa rd victory.”

Members of the public who purchase the food are, of course, a major part of that advance. Once a month, the church sends emails and posts links on its Facebook page announcing upcoming menu items. People can fill out an order form in advance and then pick up their food, prepackaged with their names, in the church basement on the appointed Saturday between 11 a.m and 1 p.m. Payment options include cash, check, or Venmo. The first two years of the fundraiser raised close to $310,000, with a running tally not yet available for 2024.

Deren and Hailey Williams of Omaha sampled Ukrainian food for the first time in mid March. “We know what’s going on in Ukraine, and we saw the church’s Facebook page yester day,” Deren said. “We just wanted to help, and as we started looking into the food, we also wanted to get connected with the culture, so we thought we’d try the pierogis and sug ar cookies.”

Also in line was Ken Kielniarz, who said he’s been a patron of the fundraiser since it started. His go-to order includes what he described as “the standard stuff pierogis, golumpki and nalysnyky.” Noting that he has relatives in both Lviv and Kiev, Kielniarz said, “Lately, it’s been rough in Kiev. We have family members who had to evacuate to Poland.

“This fundraiser means everything,” Kielniarz explained when asked why he’s been so stalwart in his support. He then paused and inhaled a long sigh. “It’s family.”

To learn about the next Ukrainian food fundraiser and for a link to order forms, visit facebook.com/omachurchua/. For Ukrainian war relief information, visit ukrainiancatholicbvm.org.

// 64 // JUNE 2024
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// 66 // 60 PLUS JUNE 2024
story by Carol Nigrelli photography

If the aroma of a freshly baked, soft, flaky, buttery croissant sends your salivary glands into overdrive, do not go to Reis’ Bakery in west Omaha you may never wa nt to leave.

The unique offerings of breads, pastries, and desserts in this European-inspired bakery and café at 119th and Pacific streets have captured the taste buds of Omahans so quickly and so convincingly, owners Aires and Judith Reis (pronounced “Reese”) shake their heads i n disbelief.

“We opened our doors on Friday, May 30th, 2023,” said Judith, adding that Channel 7 had aired a preview of the bakery beforehand. “The next day, Saturday, we opened at 8 and the line waiting at the door extended around the parking lot. We sold out by 9:30.”

Since that first day, the popularity of Reis’ Bakery has risen faster than a lo af of bread.

How did a couple from Brooklyn, New York, who moved to Omaha only two years ago, redefine the baking scene almost overnight? Part of the answer lies in the impressive amount of publicity the bakery has garnered in newspapers, newscasts, local podcasts like “Restaurant Hoppen,” social media, and good old-fashioned wor d-of-mouth.

“I attended a luncheon and one of the ladies mentioned Reis’, so I went there and bought a small, puffy pastry with a fresh cherry puree, and it was absolutely lovely,” said Gabriella Castro, who willingly traded the South Bronx for Omaha many decades ago and makes it her mission to spread the word about unique Omaha destinations. “It was sweet, but not too sweet like American pastries. I’m concerned a bout sugar.”

Favoring flavor over sweetness gives Reis’ pastries a unique taste, as does the main ingredient.

“I wanted to achieve an authentic, international product, and American flour wasn’t giving me what I wanted,” said Aires. “I achieved authenticity with Fr ench flour.”

What’s the difference?

“The way it’s milled,” he answered succinctly. “And the protein levels are different; less additives.” Aires also uses French butter, with its higher butterfat content, and all French chocolates. “Everything is natural and made fr om scratch.”

Reis’ Bakery

Brooklyn’s

Sweet Gift to Omaha

60+ Active Living

In an unexpected but rewarding twist, many customers who suffer from gluten intolerance can eat anything Reis’ offers, despite the fact French flour contains gluten. Once again, Aires credits the milli ng process.

That has only added to the bakery’s considerable popularity. “We’re stunned,” Judith said. “People keep walking in and telling us, ‘This is what Omaha h as needed.’”

Due to the demand, the bakery now sells both French flour and Fre nch butter.

The French connection provides one of many impressive facts embedded in the couple’s backstory. Aires, Brazilian-born and American-raised, enlisted in the Navy as a teenager and served for 18 years. One evening, on leave back home in Brooklyn, he met 19-year-old Judith Talavera through friends. They discovered they had both grown up in the Red Hook section, “but from opposite side of the tracks,” Judith cracked, referring to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel that sep arated them.

They’ve been marrie d 43 years.

Aires had lived in Italy early in his Navy career. As a couple, he and Judith lived in Portugal and Iceland. Returning to Brooklyn after the service, they stayed busy raising their three daughters. Then came the attacks on September 11, 2001, which affected t hem deeply.

“I watched Tower One come down,” said Aires. “I knew then I wanted to do something for my country.”

He eventually joined NATO as a senior procurement officer. The family moved to Luxembourg, whence Aires deployed to Afghanistan seven to nine months of the year during Operation Enduring Freedom. When united, the family enjoyed savoring the cuisine of Europe.

With their daughters now grown, Aires and Judith decided to sell their Brooklyn home

and come to Omaha, where their oldest daughter, Kristi Wampler, lives with her husband and four daughters. Once settled, Aires began experimenting full time with his baking.

“He was creating, I was enjoying,” laughed Judith. “I enjoy cooking savory meals, but I’m not a baker.”

At Kristi’s urging, and with help from her Facebook page, Aires and Judith started selling baked goods from their west Omaha home in November 2022. By January, so great was the demand for these flavorful pastries, the family began looking for a brick-and-mortar space. They eventually found the perfect spot: the old Cupcake Island store near Brother Sebastian’s Steakhouse, where all the equipment they needed was alread y in place.

For anyone who has never set foot on “the Continent,” some of the offerings at Reis’ may require an explanation and/or pronunciation, like kouign amann (“queenah-mahn”), a small, circular, buttery, intricately layered cake with a crispy, caramelized topping. The flavor defies mere words.

“When somebody asks, ‘What’s kouign amman ?’ we just say, ‘Here. Try this.’ You can’t describe [the taste],” Judith said.

As the sole baker, Aires spends his time in the back of the house while Judith uses her administrative skills at the front counter and keeps the books. She also helps prep the next day’s b aked goods.

The couple admits moving to Omaha from Brooklyn brought culture shock…but for the better. People have been warm, kind, friendly, “and they don’t honk their horn less than a nanosecond after the light turns green,” deadp an ned Aires.

Sounds like the gift giving flows b oth ways.

For more information, visit bake db yreis.com.

JUNE 2024 60 PLUS // 67 //

The Chips with the Hometown Taste of Omaha

Kitty Clover Kitty, Kitty, Kitty,

“Y

ou’re never too young to be a chip switcher or a chip snitcher.”

Switch to Kitty Clover Potato Chips, the commercial voiceover warns, as the bag of chips is snatched from each family member one by one, and you’ll have to deal with chip snitchers, “because Kitty Clover Potato Chips are so good, everyone’s tempted to swipe a Kitty Clover C hip or two.”

The Kitty Clover Potato Chips company was founded in Omaha with the purchase of a defunct company name and the logo along with a potato peeler and potato slicer, some bags with the logo printed on them, a large kettle, and a stapler all for $150. In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, Harold Lippold walked the streets of Omaha selling potato chips to theaters and stores. At 18 years-old, Lippold was determined to make Kitty Clover a successful company but the magnitude of the result was one he could not foresee.

A 17-by-25 foot room on 16th and Cuming streets soon gave way to the need for expansion, leading the company to settle in an 80,000-square-foot facility on South 24th Street by 1952. Processing 250,000 pounds of potatoes per day, upwards of 16,000 bags, the Kitty Clover company was among the largest potato chip factories in the world, dedicated exclusively to producing deliciously salty spud crisps. A family size bag of Kitty Clovers sold for 59 cents. There was even a board game produced to promote the company in 1964, aptly titled, “Kitty Clover Potato Chip Game.”

Another ad had a particularly memorable hook: “Come on over to Kitty Clover, the chip with the hometown taste.” Decades later, the catchy jingle continues to resonate for the generations who grew up munching the made-in- Omaha snack.

Collective recollections of Kitty Clover also continue to persist thanks in part to memories of relatives who worked in the factory as well as the obligatory

school field trips to visit the plant. In the Omaha History Club Facebook group, a post about the potato chip factory prompted scores of shared stories about the field trips and the free bags of chips elementary school students were given to take home. No doubt, most children stepped off their buses with empty bags.

“We always looked forward to school field trips to Kitty Clover on 24th Street since we got to eat the chips! It was a big deal to get a free bag back then,” recounted one poster. Another, concurred, adding, “A field trip to the Kitty Clover factory as a kid in the 60’s had a lasting effect on me. At the end of the tour, we were handed a still warm small bag of chips. Best ever, I miss Kitty Clover.” “The fresh warm chips tasted so delicious,” agreed s omeone else.

One poster waxed nostalgic for a different reason: “I love[d] that smell. I really feel sorry for those kids today; they don’t get to know all the smells that we did…” Still another shared a particularly poignant memory: “My Mama told me while she was pregnant with me in ’65 she and my Dad lived across the street from the Kitty Clover plant, and she went there everyday to get a bag of chips because she had a constant cravin g for them.”

In 1986, the last year of production before Kitty Clover closed its doors for good in 1987, bags of Kitty Clover potato chips included a special prize: disc-shaped baseball cards featuring the Kansas City Royals team members who played in the 1985 College World Series.

// 68 // 60 PLUS JUNE 2024

“I had Kitty Clover chips in my lunches when I was in grade school,” recalled Nick Vedros, president of the Lumi Neon Museum in Kansas City. “So I rem ember them.”

Vedros is currently in possession of two Kitty Clover neon signs that were displayed on the building that still stands at 24th and Martha Streets. Weathered from age, these two signs have found their way to the Lumi Neon Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. Vedros drove to Omaha to obtain the signs, which were generously donated after they were won at an auction. “We’ve tried to make the museum a vast majority of Kansas City signs,” Vedros said. On encountering the Kitty Clover signs, however, he “thought they were really fascinating. Kitty Clover had a presence in Kansas City, too.”

Thus, the Kitty Clover signs were loaded onto a flatbed and transported to Kansas City to be restored. “Driving back to Kansas City behind that load was terrifying,” he said, as having to stop multiple times on the trip to retie the cargo on the windiest day of the year proved to be a nerve-wr acking task.

Vedros has found a sponsor to restore one of the signs in Kansas City, but he prefers the other makes its way back to Omaha. “I want to restore [the sign] in Kansas City because they were sister signs, and I want them to look identical,” he explained. The other will stay in Kansas City to be part of the neon sign museum that Vedros is working to build downtown. “There’s volleyball, mini golf, a giant ferris wheel, barbecue, a concert venue, and the neon museum. I wanted the neon museum to be free to the community; it’s just a

neon sign walkthrough where you can see all these signs and read about their histories. I’ve gone out and raised a couple hundred thousand dollars, and the sponsors’ names will go on the didactic.”

Having rescued over 90 signs, Vedros’ project is well underway. Meanwhile, the memory of field trips, wafting aromas, and the hometown taste of Kitty Clover Potato Chip s endures.

To learn more, visit thelumine on museum.org

60+ NOSTALGIA // STORY BY CLAUDIA MOOMEY // IMAGES PROVIDED // DESIGN BY RENEE LUDWICK

The Godfather, Doin’

Dale O’Brien

It Since 1999

// 70 // 60 PLUS • JUNE 2024

For an audio version of this story, open the camera on your smart device and hover over the QR code above.

60+ PROFILE

STORY BY CLAUDIA MOOMEY PHOTOGRAPHY BY BILL SITZMANN DESIGN BY RENEE LUDWICK
“A pizza you can’t refuse.”

The thick Italian accent is immediately implied in this slogan, a famous phrase of The Godfather of Godfather’s Pizza. His commanding “Do it!” sticks in the minds of Americans and elicits dreams of cheesy, saucy dough rich with toppings.

Yes, Godfather’s Pizza is named for Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather,” released in 1972 and based on the novel of the same name by Mario Puzo. The early ‘70s saw Wild Willy’s beer parlor and the pizza place next door join forces to form Godfather’s Pizza but something was missing. With the help of an advertisement agency, Godfather’s Pizza created the role of The Godfather himself an Italian mobster with a commanding presence who would entice the public to purc hase pizza.

The role worked like magic; the franchise boomed and expanded, the final ingredient to promot e the brand.

When the original Godfather, Bill Cole, retired, Godfather’s brand took a break from the character for about five years. In that half decade, however, sales went down significantly, according to Senior VP of Marketing, Dave Gartlan. Eventually, auditions were held to find a replacement and renew the Godfather’s role in the company’s marketing strategy. Gary Batenhorst, the contract attorney for Godfather’s, called in an old friend to participate: D ale O’Brien.

Dale William O’Brien grew up in Omaha, attending Saint Patrick High School in North Platte as a teenager. After graduation, O’Brien attended Kearney State College to earn a theater degree, then the University of Arkansas to complete his master’s degree.

“At the time, I was going to be a teacher,” O’Brien shared. “But they were only hiring PhDs for those jobs. So I asked one of my teachers in Arkansas, ‘What should I do if I want to be an actor?’ He said, ‘Go to a mid-size city don’t go to New York or Los Angeles go someplace that’s got a lot of professional theater and do everything they ask you to do.’ So that’s what I did when I went to K ansas City.”

A professional actor since 1975, O’Brien has had his adventures in New York, Los Angeles, and other cities across the country, but Omaha would eventually give him his most famous role.

“There were about 20 people,” O’Brien recalled of the audition for The Godfather. “I did something prepared, and then I did about 20 minutes of ad-libbing. I did that three times. The other people just kept getting cut, and then finally there were like three or four, including me. And after that, they offered me the job.”

“He’s a great brand ambassador and has great charm,” said Gartlan. “Every time we bring him out to the public he is just beloved, and everybody is in awe of him. He really knows how to relate to every type of person from younger kids to adults, he makes everyone fe el special.”

The public outings are O’Brien’s favorite aspect of being The Godfather. Acting for both adults and children has always been in his wheelhouse; when in Kansas City, he participated in dinner theaters and children’s theater, a joy that has stayed with him over the years and today continues to be an important role in his life.

“I love reading to kids,” he said. “It sort of gives me a chance to act.” Visiting elementary schools to read children’s books aloud and inspire young minds fills O’Brien with joy and a sense of hope. “It’s just great

getting a response from them. I have voices for each character in the book. They love it.” Story time with kindergarteners is precious in itself, but O’Brien especially loves the teachable moments. “My favorite author seems to be Jory John, who has a line of food books ‘The Good Egg,’ ‘The Sour Grape,’ ‘The Smart Cookie’ things like that and he really touches on what kids go through. With ‘The Smart Cookie,’ I tell kids, ‘that was me when I was in elementary school,’ and they say, ‘what’s elementa ry school?’”

Children often love attention, but there are also those who are afraid to speak up in class. “I was afraid to raise my hand, I was afraid they would call on me,” O’Brien said of his own young schooling days. “And hands go up when I ask them if they have the same problem, they don’t want to be called on. And I tell them everybody in the classroom is going to be good at something.”

A true Clark Kent, O’Brien is not recognized as his Godfather persona on the street, although he may be spotted indulging in Godfather’s Taco Pizza, his favorite by a long shot. “I can’t be recognized without the hat and the suit,” he said. Reasoning for this, perhaps, is the fact that “not a lot of other brands have a character or mascot that’s also a real person,” said Gartlan. “You have a lot of animated characters and things like that, but The Godfather is special because he’s real. He really helps the brand awareness and represents it in a cool way.

“Dale is just a great person,” Gartlan continued. “He’s got a good heart, and he always wants to make everybody’s experience m emorable.”

For more information, visit god fa thers.com.

“He’s a great brand ambassador and has great charm. Every time we bring him out to the public he is just beloved, and everybody is in awe of him. He really knows how to relate to every type of person from younger kids to adults, he makes everyone fe el special.”
-Dave Gartlan, Senior VP of Marketing , Godfathers
60+ PROFILE // 72 // 60 PLUS • JUNE 2024

Omaha’s Culinary Conquests Six Food Challenges That Will Push Your Limits

e challenge you to tackle the city’s greatest culinary trials this month— though participating is not for the faint of heart. From impressive piles of wings to endless scoops of ice cream, each challenge promises a taste of victory for those bold enough to take them on. In no particular order, here are six of Omaha’s favorite food challenges—see if you can claim your spot on the Wall of Fame. Good luck!

STELLA’S BAR & GRILL’S “STELLANATOR” BURGER CHALLENGE

106 Galvin Rd S, Bellevue, NE 68005 | stellasbarandgrill.com

Stella’s Bar & Grill has reigned as a burger haven since 1936, and their formidable “Stellanator” challenge is no joke. Within 45 minutes, participants must face a towering monstrosity of six patties, six fried eggs, six slices of cheese, 12 strips of bacon, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, pickles, jalapeños, and even peanut butter, all crammed between buns with a side of fries. Winners earn a coveted “I Crushed the Stellanator” shirt, a spot on the Wall of Fame, and their Stellanator is free. Failure incurs a $35 fee and a place on the adjacent Wall of Shame—and probably a stomachache.

FRANK’S PIZZERIA 30-INCH “BIG JOE” TEAM PIZZA CHALLENGE

711 N 132nd St, Omaha, NE 68154 | frankspizzeriaomaha.com

Frank’s Pizzeria beckons pizza enthusiasts to take on the “Big Joe” Challenge. With a choice of meat, supreme, or veggie toppings, this 12-pound, 30-inch behemoth tests the mettle of you and a friend within a one-hour time limit. Victorious duos get their meal on the house, a T-shirt or hoodie, a spot on the Wall of Fame, and social media bragging rights. However, defeated contenders pay full price and endure the ignominy of their failure, immortalized on social media for all to see.

ECREAMERY’S “DUNDEE DOZEN” ICE CREAM CHALLENGE

5001 Underwood Ave, Omaha, NE 68132| ecreamery.com

Take on the ultimate ice cream challenge at eCreamery with the “Dundee Dozen:” 12 scoops, 12 toppings, 20 minutes—and it must be conquered solo. Finish within the time limit for a spot on the Wall of Fame and a victory tee. With warm or cold water to aid, your toppings are your choice. While the wall features 112 photos, several are honorary wins by children who have taken on the challenge through team effort. Approximately one in six triumphs in this cold, sweet feat.

VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT LA VISTA’S “XXL PHO KING CHALLENGE”

8013 S 83rd Ave, La Vista, NE 68128 | vietnameserestaurantlavista.com

Indulge in the ultimate pho conquest at Vietnamese Restaurant La Vista with the XXL Pho King Challenge. Devour a massive bowl of pho with your choice of protein, weighing almost seven pounds including broth and noodles. Finish the entire bowl within 45 minutes to claim victory in this challenge meal priced at $24.95. Winners earn a $20 gift certificate, a “What the Pho” t-shirt, and a coveted spot on the Pho King Wall of Fame.

STARSKY’S

BAR AND GRILL’S “PIG WING CHALLENGE”

7812 F St, Omaha, NE 68127 | starskysgrill.us

Take on the legendary “Pig Wing Challenge” at Starsky's Bar and Grill: five pounds of smoked pork “pig wings,” made of smoked pork on a mini bone, and three pounds of corn nuggets, all within one hour. It's an epic feat of eight pounds of food. Winners receive a Starsky’s tee, their picture on the Wall of Fame, and a complimentary meal. Few conquer this challenge, but those who accomplish it enjoy a free feast worth $72.95—if they can handle it.

BAILEY’S BREAKFAST & LUNCH’S “PORKASAURUS CHALLENGE”

1259 S 120th St, Omaha, NE 68144 | baileysbreakfast.com

Bailey’s Breakfast & Lunch presents the colossal “Porkasaurus,” a breakfast behemoth featured on the Food Network’s “Man Vs. Food” in 2019. It’s piled high with various pork delicacies—bacon, sausage patties, links, country sausage, Canadian bacon, ham steak, and Andouille sausage—all nestled atop red potatoes and cheese. Crowned with three eggs, biscuits, toast, and sausage gravy, this feast can be tackled solo for $22 or shared for $31. Winners score a free “I Tamed the Porkasaurus” tee and Wall of Fame recognition. 1 3 5 2 4 6

JUNE 2024 // 73 // OBVIOUSLY OMAHA // COMPILED BY NATALIE VELOSO // DESIGN BY RACHEL BIRDSALL
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// 74 // JUNE 2024

DINING FEATURE

"I FEEL LIKE MY GRANDMA JUST MADE ME DINNER!"
"I FEEL LIKE MY GRANDMA JUST MADE ME DINNER!"

Sons & Daughters of Italy’s

Pasta Suppers

paghetti and Meatballs. Mostaccioli and Meatballs. Pasta with Italian Sausage.

Consider it a veritable plethora of pasta—all yours to enjoy by the heaping forkful at the Sons & Daughters of Italy Lodge. Located on S 10th Street, the community dinners served at this old-fashioned food hall pay homage to Omahans with Italian heritage. But you don’t need to boast a tie to the Old Country to pull up a chair for dinner or lunch. Anyone who loves authentic Italian fare is welcome.

Although meals are served only on Thursdays and Fridays, the kitchen is bustling with activity at the beginning of the week. On Mondays, a group of women, affectionately known as “the Meatball Mavens,” come together to make the meatball mix. On Tuesday, a group of men (who have not yet earned a catchy nickname—perhaps the “Sausage Sirs?”) season the mix and cook the meatballs. On the eve of serving, all the food is finished and readied for Thursday.

The Lodge rotates meals, serving one dish they have ready for the day—whether it’s spaghetti and meatballs, mostaccioli and meatballs, or pasta with sausage, with the abundance of noodles and sauce certain to satisfy. The Sons & Daughters of Italy even offer a fried fish option on Fridays during Lent.

“Every third week, we have Italian sausage that we make ourselves,” said Ola Partusch, the venue’s manager. “A group of guys make that, and it starts on Tuesday. They’ll cut the meat, season it, and then on Wednesday, they’ll make the links. Sausage is pretty popular. Those are our busiest days; it’s crazy.”

Busy they are indeed, though the chaos has some order to it. It’s easy to get the hang of the system once inside the doors. Meals cost $12 and include pasta, salad, and bread. Diners pay with cash or check at the window by the entrance and receive their meal tickets. They then pick up their pasta at the next window, where volunteers load foam plates with deliciously traditional Italian fare. Next to the food window is cutlery, napkins, condiments, and bowls of salad featuring a slice of bread. Ice water is available toward the back of the room, alongside a table stacked with cannoli (a mere $1 each) for dessert.

The set-up is quaint and reminiscent of a community center or church kitchen. The lodge is a place to gather and be communal, after all. Historical photos and memorabilia line the walls, providing guests with exactly that sense of nostalgia and community. Volunteers run these dinners, from making and serving food to bussing tables, an endeavor that adds to the feeling that you are visiting with neighbors over a casual shared supper.

This aspect is why Local Lodge President, Sarah (“Sarita”) Ruma, cherishes the pasta suppers. “I was employed at the [Nebraska] Medical Center when my father used to work in the window,” she shared. “I would get my dish of pasta and I’d always kiss my dad hello, and the Italian men behind me would say, ‘Oh my God, he’s kissing a girl’ in Italian. After my father died, my mother (whose name was also Sarah) started working in one of the old rooms, and they would always say, ‘Oh my God, Sarah’s in the kitchen!’ Now they do that for me, and it makes a kind of heartwarming memory of my family doing that.

“There’s a lot of Italian family history,” Ruma continued. “I could list names, but I’d be embarrassed if I left somebody out. There’re a lot of good people. We have retired restauranteurs who are working in the kitchen. We have retired postal workers, teachers, city workers, state workers—we just have a great group of guys and women.”

Ruma is the first woman president of the local lodge in Omaha, which was founded in 1926. She was amused that her presidency seemed to “stir things up a bit,” but she’s okay with that, giggling as she explained.

JUNE // 76 // 2024

When the Lodge started in the 1950s, men met in one room and women in another. It wasn’t until the ‘70s or ‘80s that the women, who made the food, proclaimed that they would stop giving the men dessert if the Lodge remained segregated by gender. “They stepped in, and I’m very proud of them,” Ruma said.

Thursdays at the Sons & Daughters of Italy Lodge are the busiest, filled with people grabbing a pasta meal to-go on their lunch breaks from work, while Friday nights seem to be most attended by families and groups of friends who want to relax and enjoy a pasta meal.

“It smells like you’re at your nonna’s house, which is a great feeling,” Ruma said. Or, as one diner proclaimed in the dining room, “Man, I’m not even Italian, but I feel like my grandma just made me dinner!”

These family-friendly dinners are not without their challenges. The tradition endured a fire, followed promptly by the COVID-19 pandemic. Neither calamity stopped the dinners for long.

The fire hit in 2017, unluckily enough on Friday the 13th of January. The Fire Marshal guessed it was a case of “spontaneous combustion,” Ruma explained, the result of oily cleaning towels going through the dryer and catching on fire. It was a significant disaster that shut down the pasta dinners for three years and one week, according to Dan Matuella, Grand Lodge President.

The pasta dinners returned for four weeks before COVID-19 shut down restaurants. In the late spring and early summer of 2020, the Sons & Daughters of Italy began offering a drive-thru option for the pasta dinners so the community could once again enjoy the tradition, although the familial community presence had to be absent.

“We had it set up where people would come in off 10th Street and drive around in a horseshoe, get their food, pay for it, and go. We would have a line on 10th street that would go from the hall north about six or seven blocks,” Matuella recalled.

Partusch laughed at the memory. “We got in trouble a couple times for blocking traffic!”

Matuella estimated it was around October 2020 when they reopened the dining room, but that was with social distancing. “In 2021, it got a little more normal,” he said.

The three mentioned that they’re trying to expand community offerings at the Lodge. They already host birthday parties and other events, but there are plans to add BINGO, karaoke, bocce ball, cooking classes, and language classes.

“Our mission is to preserve the Italian culture and heritage,” Matuella averred. “Originally, it was to help Italian immigrants assimilate into American culture. Naturally, the Italians have assimilated quite well, and now we’re here to preserve the culture.”

The Sons & Daughters of Italy give back to the community in a variety of ways. The organization donates to various charities and awards scholarships. It offers members opportunities to immerse into Italian culture by organizing trips to Italy—and by enjoying a traditional pasta meal twice a week at the Sons and Daughters of Italy Lodge, served September through May.

To learn more about the Sons & Daughters of Italy, located at 1238 S. 10th St., visit sonsofitalyne.org. Pasta lunches: Thursdays, 10:00 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Pasta dinners: Fridays, 5:00–8:00 p.m.

“I would get my dish of pasta and I’d always kiss my dad hello, and the Italian men behind me would say, ‘Oh my God, he’s kissing a girl’ in Italian. After my father died, my mother (whose name was also Sarah) started working in one of the old rooms, and they would always say, ‘Oh my God, Sarah’s in the kitchen!’ Now they do that for me, and it makes a kind of heartwarming memory of my family doing that."

CHEF PROFILE STORY BY HOLLY MCATEE PHOTOGRAPHY BY SARAH LEMKE DESIGN BY JOEY WINTON

Real Food, Good Food, Made From Scratch

ucked in the middle of Countryside Village is Camille’s Bakery, a charming café reminiscent of the kind of establishment one might stumble across in a quaint cobblestoned town alongside the California coast. Parasols float from the ceiling, overlapping an eclectic blend of art and textiles. Menu items, charmingly hand-written in thick print on chalkboards, are within easy view behind the counter. The bakery cases are stacked with delectable selections like scones, macaroons, Russian Tea Cakes, cookies, and truffles. More savory menu offerings include cauliflower curry, turkey enchiladas, and quiches.

Co-owners Camille and James Nimtz boast 20 years of cooking and baking experience in fine restaurants, bakeries, and catering companies. Camille, the assistant baker and cook, has a bubbly personality as light and fluffy as one of the bakery’s tarts. She makes customers feel instantly welcome as she greets them at the front counter with a smile. James, the head baker, is her quieter counterpoint. The two have a heartwarming rapport—as they prepare food in the back, their playful chatting is audible, making the bakery feel like their kitchen at home.

Their love radiates around them as they work side by side, elbow to elbow.

“I love working with my best friend. I’m able to talk to James about anything,” Camille averred.

Noting his partner’s more extroverted personality, James added with grin: “Camille also loves talking to the customers.”

Camille was born in Omaha but left Nebraska in her late teens. She lived in numerous places, including Las Vegas, Kansas City, Portland, Santa Cruz, and the Bay Area. She also worked in the food industry, holding every possible job from waitress and hostess to cook and assistant manager. While in California, she ran an event facility where her passion for catering began.

It was on the West Coast that James and Camille met. The two shared a passion for food, and Camille confessed that she had always wanted to own her own café. Soon, James shared her dream, and the two of them began imagining what their own business might look like.

James, a California native, began his baking career when he was just 18 at Ladyfingers, a beloved Oakland bakery. The owner, Anna Corriveau, whose culinary approach was heavily influenced by Julia Child, taught him to

bake from scratch. James uses a lot of the same techniques that he learned from his mentor, like rolling dough by hand.

“Most of the things that I make, Anna taught me. I’ve adjusted the recipes to make them my own. When you bake from scratch, it’s easy to change something,” James explained. “Baking is creative. It’s art. There’s an immediate response. You can tell if people enjoy it or not.”

In 2012, Camille’s father had a stroke, and the couple moved to Omaha to take care of him, simultaneously working towards their goal of owning their own café. In 2019, Camille and James finally realized their dream and opened Camille’s Bakery. It was off to a solid start until 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They struggled during this time, but found ways to stay open such as making “Breakfast Tacos” outside, where patrons purchased them from the sidewalk in front of the bakery. While challenging at times, the couple is grateful for Camille's loyal clientele.

Despite such early struggles, there are advantages to being a small family business. “The flexibility when there’s a family emergency is great. When we first opened, our youngest child, Ziggy, would stay in the back with us while we worked,” James said. The Nimtz children are now 13, 10, and 6, and they’ve all enjoyed growing up in the café, helping where and when they can.

While the sweets might be a little on the indulgent side, the savory menu is simple and healthy and includes both gluten-free and vegetarian options. One savory dish features sweet potatoes, feta, and almond crema wrapped in corn shells. Fried corn bits add a crunchy layer. Breakfast tacos are served in a mozzarella crust folded over with scrambled eggs, chile oil, onion, and cilantro. The Mexican Caesar is Camille’s own recipe.

“When I look at our menu, I see ingredients. All our items have four or five," James said. “In doing that, it simplifies things. It’s oldfashioned, but it’s coming back around.”

With the baked goods, Camille and James focus on single-serving selections. Their bakery treats range from items like fruit tarts, raspberry scones, mini cheesecakes, and cream puffs. The chocolate almond torte, mousse cups, and truffles are all gluten-free. Camille’s favorite is the Grand Marnier truffle, which is a hard exterior shell of dark chocolate filled with creamy chocolate and layers of orange inside.

Cake decorating parties are popular at Camille’s. The events began as a fun activity for the couple's daughter to celebrate her birthday with her friends. Now, the bakery holds cake decorating parties for customers. Children receive their own miniature cakes to decorate and take home—if they can be patient enough to wait until they leave.

The establishment additionally offers specialized catering, which Camille personalizes for clients’ events. Drawing on her event planning experience, she enjoys developing creative, healthy dishes to fit specific themes.

“Real food. Good food. Made from scratch. Homey, good energy, and fun,”—that’s how Camille likes to describe the family business.

“I want people to have an experience here. No one else has a sweet potato taco or a cauliflower curry. I won’t serve food that I won’t eat. It must be eclectic. I’m always trying to think up something yummy to make,” she said.

To learn more about Camille’s Bakery, visit camillesbakery.com.

JUNE 2024 // 79 //

A

ight to Remember

MemoirDeliversAN
WESTFIELD PLASTIC SURGERY CENTER
e yrom skooB
Restaurant f o r t h e M
Embered Golden Beets Salad

Dining Review

Dining Review

Story

Story

Kim Carpenter

Kim Carpenter

Photography

Photography

Bill Sitzmann

Sarah Lemke

Design

Design

Joey Winton

Joey Winton

might as well get the awkward part done at the beginning. Memoir is memorable. My phrasing is a groan-worthy word play on the name of this restaurant, Omaha’s hottest new happening “It-Spot” in Brickline at The Mercantile, situated ideally at the peripheries of the Old Market and the Riverfront. In fact, Memoir was one of the more memorable dining experiences I’ve had in quite awhile. Often when eating out, one of my metrics is if I can reproduce a reasonable facsimile of a meal at home. I’m fairly adept in the kitchen, so usually, I can. Early on during our evening at Memoir, I stopped eating, silverware poised in mid air, and looked meaningfully at my dining companion. “Th is,” I said, pointing at the dish with my fork for emphasis, “Th is I cannot do at home.”

As the newest addition to the Flagship Restaurant Group, “The story of Memoir is 20 years of restaurant business,” said owner and Corporate Executive Chef Tony Gentile. “It’s 20 years of recipes, development, and chef collaboration. Th is is where we all started; we’ve come fu ll circle.”

For those unfamiliar, Memoir is following in the footsteps of such venerable restaurants as Blue Sushi Sake Grill, Roja Mexican Grill and Margarita Bar, Blatt Beer & Table, and Plank Seafood Provisions as well as Flagship Commons food hall at Westroads Mall. Each establishment has its niche, and in a way, Memoir carries the imprint of all its predecessors combined into one restaurant.

The interior is laid-back, yet sophisticated, a restaurant you’d somehow simultaneously expect to fi nd in the heart of Manhattan or tucked away on a twisting, cobblestoned street in Brussels. It’s Old World-quaint meets contemporary-chic: burnished gold, deeply saturated emeralds, graceful arches, flowing plants. Th is is a place that feels at once refreshingly new but old and comfortable like a beloved neighborhood spot where you might have a regular table overlooking the gleaming open kitchen that provides for a bustling show.

My dining companion and I did a full appetizer and salad sampling, which provided a deep dive into the chef and kitchen’s dizzying capabilities. A glass of Ruffi no Prosecco, crisp and cleansing, worked ideally for selection. The overarching theme that emerged throughout was just how playfully inventive the menu selections are. We started with the Tenderloin Beef Carpaccio, served with perfectly toasted focaccia. The razor thin shaved beef was brought alive with lemon and crispy capers. Capers in their natural state can have an off-putting acetone taste, but drying them tempered that and complemented the umami of the beef with a whisper of zippiness while adding a satisfying texture. Salty parmesan cheese added another dimension of both fl avor and mouth-feel, completing the dish.

Next, we sampled the Pork Potstickers, Potato Puff s, and Corned Beef Meatballs, a holy trinity of creative culinary takes. Every culture, it seems, has its version of a potsticker, ravioli, or gyoza, and this dish is Memoir’s iteration of the humble dumpling. There’s an overall roundness to this dish that is brought forward by the chili-soy broth and crispy leek topping. Meanwhile, the Potato Puff s served as the restaurant’s rendition of loaded baked potatoes. These golden fried mashed potato mouthfuls featured parmesan, chives, and a teasing chili-bacon aioli that left us wanting a second plate. The Corned Beef Meatballs were a witty nod to Omaha’s legendary Reuben sandwich complete with a surprisingly mild Sauerkraut purée, pickled cabbage, herbs, and a rye crumble. Moist and savory, we enjoyed every last crumb.

JUNE 2024 // 81 // WESTFIELD PLASTIC SURGERY CENTER

930

For salads, we dove into the Embered Golden Beet Salad, which featured sweet roasted yellow beets perfectly punctuated with the fatty acids of the tangy goat cheese and brought alive with slight heat from smoked chili balanced by a hint of honey. Pumpkin seeds again added a level of textural playfulness that seems to underscore so many of Memoir’s dishes. The Kale & Farro Salad was a lovely medley of kale, its bitterness neutralized by sweet charred grapes and apples, with the nutty farro enhanced by almonds, basil, shallots, and turmeric vinaigrette. A wonderfully fi rm goat cheese made this salad sing. Memoir also added its fresh spin to the classic Caesar salad with a particularly phenomenal 13-year-old parmesan cheese and crispy fi ngerling potato chips that were gone a little too quickly.

We also delighted in the Yellowtail Sashimi and Tuna Tartare. The fi rst was alive with citrusy zinginess thanks to the orange enlivened by serrano, cilantro, ginger shoots, and white shoyu. The balance was delicate, letting each fl avor shine without overtaking any other. The latter featured a Calabrian chili, lemon, avocado, crispy shallot, and a sesame lavosh. Again, fl avors worked together and didn’t compete, making every bite a pleasure on the tongue.

Sushi has its own starring section on the menu, and for good reason. With Blue Sushi’s influence clear, Memoir’s selections, ranging from a California Roll to a vegan option, offered phenomenal fl avor pairings that elevated main ingredients. The avocado and cucumber cooled the Spicy Tuna Maki just enough to appreciate the heightened heat contained in the “atomic aioli,” while the spicy creamy sauce and tōgarashi, or seven-fl avor chili pepper, lived up to its explosive name. The Bito Vegan Maki was a revelation. The vegan cream cheese, grilled broccolini, golden beets, almonds, Th ai basil, citrus, and sweet agave mustard somehow combined to taste like the most delicate seafood.

For our main courses, my dining companion opted for the Roasted Chicken, Memoir’s clever interpretation of that beloved American staple, chicken and dumplings. Roasted to moist, tender perfection, the chicken came with fluff y ricotta dumplings that, my guest proclaimed with a hearty, appreciative sigh, were “like eating clouds.” Served with charred

5 STARS POSSIBLE

tomatoes and broccolini and garlic chips, not a whisper of this dish remained on the plate. For my part, I went with the Striped Bass, which featured a deliciously crispy exterior that gave way to a melting, fl aky interior. Charred tomatoes, kale, pickled red onions, combined with croutons and a chili-hazelnut pesto made this a standout entree. Our wine for dinner was a lovely Trig Point “Signpost” Chardonnay from Sonoma. Ripe and buttery, it complemented both our meals with its light fruitiness without overwhelming them.

The dessert menu offered three simple choices: Coconut Tart, Chocolate Torte, and Berries & Cream. The fi rst, with its burnt lime meringue, was a creamy, not overly sweet confection. The second, which featured hazelnut ganache, crème fraîche ice cream, and raspberry coulis, was a decadent dream. Finally, the third with its vanilla pannacotta, meringue cookies, mint, and verjus simple syrup, provided for a refreshing fi nish to a complex gustatory experience.

Service was excellent throughout the evening. Memoir clearly trains its waitstaff thoroughly. Our server was extremely knowledgeable about every menu item and was able to offer recommendations based on our preferences. She was warm, friendly, and professional without being obsequious. By the end of the evening, she made us feel like we were valued regulars.

My one quibble is that Memoir presents itself as a restaurant that reinterprets American classics. Sushi, Gentile explained, qualifies as quintessentially American since it’s been so heavily adopted and adapted here, and of course, given Blue Sushi’s long-held reputation, giving sushi a starring place of its own on the menu makes sense. But Mexican and Tex-Mex have an arguably much longer culinary history in the US and Roja has a legacy of its own, so why not add Memoir’s inventive approach here as well? I’d love to see how the kitchen would put their inimitable spin on classics like tamales, pozole, and guacamole.

As Tony Gentile noted, it’s about where Memoir started and the restaurant coming full circle. Given our dining experience, the next turn for this establishment is certain to be one for the memory books.

For more information, to view the menu, and to make reservations, visit ourmemoir.com.

MEMOIR
HARNEY ST. I 402.513.7005
AMBIANCE OVERALL
FOOD SERVICE

DINING GUIDE

AMERICAN

DJ’S DUGOUT SPORTS BAR - $

Seven Metro Area Locations:

Bellevue - 10308 S. 23rd St. - 402.292.9096

Miracle Hills - 777 N. 114th St. - 402.498.8855

Downtown - 1003 Capitol Ave. - 402.763.9974

Aksarben - 2102 S. 67th St. - 402.933.3533

Millard - 17666 Welch Plaza - 402.933.8844

Elkhorn - 19020 Evans St. - 402.315.1985

Plattsmouth - 2405 Oak Hill Rd. - 402.298.4166

Voted Omaha’s #1 Sports Bar, DJ’s Dugout is locally and Vietnam Veteran owned. DJ’s Dugout features delicious burgers, wings, wraps, salads, sandwiches and an impressive drink menu. Plus, DJ’s has huge media walls full of HD TVs and projector screens. Catch all the action at DJ’s seven Omaha-area locations. Dig In... At The Dugout! —djsdugout.com

JAMS MODERN AMERICAN- $$

7814 Dodge St. - 402.399.8300

17070 Wright Plz, Ste. 100 - 402.810.9600 1101 Harney St. in the OldMarket - 402.614.9333

Jams is an Omaha restaurant legacy, an “American Grill” that offers a melting pot of different styles and varieties. The dishes are made with high-quality ingredients that pair well with award-winning wines or creative cocktails. —jamseats.com

DINING GUIDE LEGEND

LE PEEP - $

69th & Pacific - 402.933.2776

177th and Center St. - 402.934.9914

156th St. & W. Dodge Rd. - 402.408.1728

120th and Blondo St. - 402.991.8222

Le Peep puts a wholesome perspective on your favorite neighborhood breakfast and lunch spot. Fresh. Simple. Elegant. Inviting. We put the emphasis on people, both patrons and staff. We focus on providing each of our guests the fresh food and friendly service that they have come to expect. Open daily 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m. —lepeepomaha.co m

LET IT FLY SPORTS BAR - $$

1080 Capitol Ave. - 402.504.1082

Let It Fly West: 1311 S. 203rd St.

Let It Fly Sports Bar is your elevated sports bar experience! Voted Best of Omaha with two locations downtown and in west Omaha. Guests experience a unique brand of hospitality with multiple bars, expansive outdoor patios, hundreds of seats, 80 plus TVs, a 50-foot LED screen, and in-house podcast studio. The best place to watch a game and enjoy incredible food and hand-crafted cocktails! — letitflyomaha.com

OOH-DE-LALLY - $$ 4916 Underwood Ave, Omaha, NE 68132 - 402.698.8333

Ooh De Lally is more than a restaurant; it's a beacon of hope. Nestled in Dundee, Ooh De Lally serves up new American cuisine while providing opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals through a groundbreaking partnership with Metropolitan Community College's 180 Re-Entry Assistance Program. Ooh De Lally is great food made by great people. —oohdelally.org

an

DJ’S DUGOUT is

DJ’S DUGOUT is locally and Vietnam Veteran owned. Since 1993, DJ’s Dugout has been an Omaha tradition as a gathering place for sports fans and families. Today, DJ’s has 7 Omaha metro area locations and is famous for providing an ultimate sports bar experience with its delicious food and massive media display walls. All in a casual family friendly atmosphere.

and Vietnam

Since 1993, DJ’s Dugout has

DJ’S DUGOUT is locally and Vietnam Veteran owned. Since 1993, DJ’s Dugout has been an Omaha tradition as a gathering place for sports fans and families. Today, DJ’s has 7 Omaha metro area locations and is famous for providing an ultimate sports bar experience with its delicious food and massive media display walls. All in a casual family friendly atmosphere.

Since 1993, DJ’s Dugout has been an Omaha tradition as a gathering place for sports fans and families. Today, DJ’s has 7 Omaha metro area locations and is famous for providing an ultimate sports bar experience with its delicious food and massive media display walls. All in a casual family friendly atmosphere.

tradition as a gathering place for sports fans and families. Today, DJ’s has 7 Omaha metro area locations and is famous for providing an ultimate sports bar experience with its delicious food and massive media display walls. All in a casual family friendly atmosphere.

DJ’S DUGOUT is locally and Vietnam Veteran owned. Since 1993, DJ’s Dugout has been an Omaha tradition as a gathering place for sports fans and families. Today, DJ’s has 7 Omaha metro area locations and is famous for providing an ultimate sports bar experience with its delicious food and massive media display walls. All in a casual family friendly atmosphere.

DJ’S DUGOUT is locally and Vietnam Veteran owned. Since 1993, DJ’s Dugout has been an Omaha tradition as a gathering place for sports fans and families. Today, DJ’s has 7 Omaha metro area locations and is famous for providing an ultimate sports bar experience with its delicious food and massive media display walls. All in a casual family friendly atmosphere.

The food at DJ’s is absolutely delicious! You’ll find a menu packed full of variety that includes “Fresh… Never Frozen” half pound premium Angus beef burgers, wings, nachos, sandwiches and so much more. DJ’s also has party rooms available, perfect for groups, business meetings, and celebrations.

The food at DJ’s is absolutely delicious! You’ll find a menu packed full of variety that includes “Fresh… Never Frozen” half pound premium Angus beef burgers, wings, nachos, sandwiches and so much more. DJ’s also has party rooms available, perfect for groups, business meetings, and celebrations.

The food at DJ’s is absolutely delicious! You’ll find a menu packed full of variety that includes “Fresh… Never Frozen” half pound premium Angus beef burgers, wings, nachos, sandwiches and so much more. DJ’s also has party rooms available, perfect for groups, business meetings, and celebrations.

Voted Omaha’s #1 Sports Bar. Dig In… at the Dugout!

The food at DJ’s is absolutely delicious! You’ll find a menu packed full of variety that includes “Fresh… Never Frozen” half pound premium Angus beef burgers, wings, nachos, sandwiches and so much more. DJ’s also has party rooms available, perfect for groups, business meetings, and celebrations.

Voted Omaha’s #1 Sports Bar. Dig In… at the Dugout!

Voted Omaha’s #1 Sports Bar. Dig In… at the Dugout!

Voted Omaha’s #1 Sports Bar. Dig In… at the Dugout!

The food at DJ’s is absolutely delicious! You’ll find a menu packed full of variety that includes “Fresh… Never Frozen” half pound premium Angus beef burgers, wings, nachos, sandwiches and so much more. DJ’s also has party rooms available, perfect for groups, business meetings, and celebrations.

Voted Omaha’s #1 Sports Bar. Dig In… at the Dugout!

The food at DJ’s is absolutely delicious! You’ll find a menu packed full of variety that includes “Fresh… Never Frozen” half pound premium Angus beef burgers, wings, nachos, sandwiches and so much more. DJ’s also has party rooms available, perfect for groups, business meetings, and celebrations. Voted

JUNE 2024 // 83 //
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is
and
been
Omaha
DJSDUGOUT.COM OMAHA’S ICONIC SPORTS BAR! 2024 F rst Place Sports Bar 2023 1 Place Sports Bar 2022 W NNER 3
locally
Veteran owned.
DJSDUGOUT.COM OMAHA’S ICONIC SPORTS BAR! 2024 F rst Place Spor s Bar 2023 1 Place 2022 W NNER 3

We have developed our menu inspired by all that touches the Pacific Ocean. Starting with fresh fish flown from Honolulu, locally sourced steaks and natural chicken with an Asian flare and pairing our dishes with tiki libations and Pacific coast wines. —pacificeatinghouse.com

PINE & BLACK BISTRO - $$ 248

We opened in March of 2023 to bring a family owned bistro to the community, serving local steaks and fresh seafood. We offer a wide variety of Pacific Northwest wines, local beers, and craft cocktails. Pinot Noir translates to Pine & Black, our name originates from our love of wine. —pineandblackbistro.com

SAND POINT - $$$

655 North 114th Street Omaha, NE 68154 —531-466-1008

Sand Point ‘New England Fare’ brings their favorite and unique dishes from New England to the Omaha food community. Freshest seafood, from seared crab cakes, lobster arancini, whole belly clams, New England clam chowder, lobster bisque to charcuterie boards and Angus beef tips and steak burgers, to be topped off with Boston cream pie, blueberry pie or Lemon canna cotta. Full bar to include, specialty cocktails, extensive wine lists, as well as beer and non-alcoholic drinks. –sandpointomaha.com

STELLA’S - $ 106 S. Galvin Road, Bellevue - 402.291.6088

Since 1936, we’ve been making our world-famous Stella’s hamburgers the same way. The family secrets have been handed down to each owner, ensuring that your burger is the same as the one you fell in love with the first time you tried Stella’s. And if it’s your first time, we know you’ll be back! Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Sunday. — stellasbarandgrill.com

// 84 // JUNE 2024 DINING GUIDE Omaha thanks to our customers for voting us the BEST BURGER IN OMAHA “ServingWorldFamousHamburgersSince1936” 106 GALVIN RD., BELLEVUE, NE • 402-291-6088 • OPEN MONDAY - SATURDAY, 11 AM - 9 PM 2024 First Place Hamburger DINING GUIDE LEGEND $=$ 1-10 • $$=$ 10-20 • $$$=$20-30 • $$$$=$30+ PACIFIC EATING HOUSE - $$ 1130 Sterling Ridge Dr.
531.999.3777
-
Dr.,
Olson
Papillion - 531.999.3777
655 N 114th St, Omaha NE 68154 sandpointomaha@gmail.com 531.466.1008 Open 7 days a week • 7:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. 156th & Dodge | 402-408-1728 • 177th & Center | 402-934-9914 120th & Blondo | 402-991-8222 • 69th & Pacific | 402-933-2776 LePeepOmaha.com • @LePeepOmaha 2023 F rs Place W itSt & Se vice Locally owned and operated since 2001! Voted Omaha’s Best Breakfast 17 years in a row!
JUNE 2024 // 85 // STEAKS • CHOPS • SEAFOOD ITALIAN SPECIALTIES 7 private party rooms Seating up to 400 Lots of parking 1620 S. 10th Street 402-345-8313 www.casciossteakhouse.com 2023 Winner Steakhouse Serving Omaha for 78 Years 2024 First Place Ice Cream rotellasbakery.com Since 1921 Celebrating Over 100 Years of Baking Excellence! BREADS AND ROLLS FOR ANY Rotella 2024 Omaha Mag June ad.indd 1 5/2/24 10:47 AM 400 Seats, 80+ TVs, 2 patios Elevating the Sports bar Experience! 1080 Capitol Ave • 402.504.1082 Let it fly West • 1311 S. 203rd St. letitflyomaha.com 2024 Winner NewBar-Winter 2022toFall2023

Come experience the true taste of homemade ice cream in the Old Market. Since 1986, we’ve created gourmet ice cream flavors in small batches using rock salt and ice. We offer your favorites, plus unique flavors like margarita, green tea, Guinness, and French toast. Special orders available. Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.- Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday. Noon-10 p.m. —tedandwallys.com

Ralston, Bellevue and Millard. We are truly grateful to have been welcomed into each of these communities and welcome you in for good food, a cold drink and a comfy seat to enjoy the sport of your choosing! Determined to bring only the freshest ingredients, homemade dough and our specialty sauces to the table, we have worked hard to perfect our craft for you. Our goal is to bring the best food service to the area and show the best sports events that you want to see. Pick up and Delivery availalble. Please check website for hours of operation. —varsityromancoinpizza.com

Choose Spezia for lunch or dinner, where you’ll find a casual elegance that’s perfect for business guests, get-togethers, or any special occasion. Exceptional food, wine, and service, with a delectable menu: fresh seafood, certified Angus steaks, innovative pasta, risotto, gnocchi, cioppino, lamb, entrée salads, Mediterranean chicken, flatbreads, and fresh salmon daily. Enjoy a full bar, Italian and California wines, Anniversary/Lovers’ Booth (call to reserve), private dining rooms, and wood-fired grill. Open Monday-Sunday. Cocktail hour 4-6 p.m., when all cocktails, glasses of wine, and beers are half price. Evening reservations recommended. —speziarestaurant.com

// 86 // JUNE 2024 DINING
Omaha T ED
$ 1120 Jackson St. - 402.341.5827
GUIDE
AND WALLY’S -
VARSITY SPORTS CAFE - $$ Ralston - 9735 Q St. - 402.339.1944 Bellevue - 3504 Samson Way - 402.932.1944 Millard - 14529 F St. - 402.505.6660
ITALIAN S PEZIA - $$$ 3125 S. 72nd St. - 402.391.2950
Family Owned Since 1983 CATERING / PARTY ROOM AVAILABLE HOMEMADE, FRESH FOOD, ALWAYS. 3821 Center St. / 402.346.1528 GreekIslandsOmaha.com 2023 First Place Greek Dining 3125 South 72 nd Street (Easy access off I-80, take 72nd Street Exit) 402.391.2950 . Call today to make your reservation Get aLittle Saucy. CALL FOR RESERVATIONS • 402-391-2950 SATURDAY LUNCH [11am–4 pm] SPEZIASPECIALTIES FRESH SEAFOOD • ANGUS BEEF INNOVATIVE PASTA • RISOTTO GNOCCHI • FRESH SALMON DAILY COCKTAIL HOUR MONDAY – SATURDAY 4 – 6 PM ALL COCKTAILS, GLASS WINE AND BEERS ARE HALF PRICE CENTRAL LOCATION • 3125 SOUTH 72ND STREET • EASY ACCESS OFF I-80 • 72ND STREET EXIT $10 OFFANY TICKETOVER $25 NO CASH VALUE. EXPIRES 12/31/2011 2024 Winner Romantic Restaurant 2024 Winner Happy Hour 2024 First Place Italian Dining SPEZIA SPECIALTIES WOOD FIRE STEAKS & SEAFOOD INNOVATIVE PASTA—RISOTTO—GNOCCHI FRESH SALMON DAILY CHECK OUT OUR SPECIAL SPRING DINING FEATURES Open 7 Days a Week for Lunch & Dinner

DINING GUIDE Omaha

MEXICAN

FERNANDO’S - $

7555 Pacific St.

- 402.339.8006.

380 N. 114th St. - 402.330.5707

Featuring Sonoran-style cooking made fresh daily. Catering and party rooms also available. Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.- 11 p.m., Sunday 4-9 p.m. —fernandosomaha.com

LA MESA - $$

158th St. and W. Maple Rd. - 402.557.6130

156th and Q streets - 402.763.2555

110th St. and W. Maple Rd.

- 402.496.1101

Fort Crook Rd. and Hwy 370 - 402.733.8754

84th St. and Tara Plaza - 402.593.0983

Lake Manawa Exit - 712.256.2762

Enjoy awesome appetizers, excellent enchilada’s, fabulous fajitas, seafood specialties, mouthwatering margaritas and much more at La Mesa! Come see why La Mesa has been voted Best of Omaha’s 20 Years in a Row! Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Thursday-Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. —lamesaomaha.co m

PRIMO’S MEXICAN

RESTAURANT - $$

5914 Center St., Omaha, NE - 402.322.8141

930 5th Ave., Council Bluffs, IA - 712.256.5200

Family owned and operated since 2010, Primo’s Modern Mexican utilizes the freshest ingredients to bring both authentic Mexican and Southwest-style dishes to life with flare and unrivaled flavor. With recipes passed down over four generations, a familyfriendly atmosphere, and plates to satisfy cravings at every hour—with breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus offering a variety of Mexican staples—Primo’s

Mexican Restaurant is proud to serve the people of Omaha and Council Bluffs no matter the occasion. —primosmodernmexican.com

SPECIAL DINING

Greek cuisine with specials every day at reasonable prices. We are well-known for our gyro sandwiches and salads. We cater and can accommodate a party for 65 guests. Carry-out and delivery available. Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-7 p.m. —greekislandsomaha.com

OUR STORY IS A STORY OF FAMILY.

THINGS RELATED, BUT DIFFERENT. NATIONS, NORTH AND SOUTH. WE ARE AMERICAN-GROWN WITH MEXICAN ROOTS, PROUDLY CHICANO.

FLAVORS, TRADITIONAL AND NEW. WE EVOLVE MEXICAN FAMILY RECIPES WITH OUR OWN MODERN TWIST.

CITIES, EAST AND WEST. WITH ROOTS IN COUNCIL BLUFFS AND OMAHA, OUR MEMORIES AND DEDICATION TO THIS COMMUNITY SPAN THE MIGHTY MO. OUR STORY IS A STORY OF COUSINS. OR AS OUR ANCESTORS SAY, PRIMOS. WHERE FAMILY, FLAVOR AND COMMUNITY COME TO THE TABLE.

PRIMO’S OMAHA 5914 Center Street | Omaha, NE 68106 402-322-8141

PRIMO’S COUNCIL BLUFFS 930 5th Ave. | Council Bluffs, IA 51501 712-256-5200

Both locations are open for BREAKFAST AT 7 A.M.

PRIMO’S OMAHA OFFERS THE LARGEST OUTDOOR HEATED PATIO IN OMAHA

JUNE 2024 // 87 //
GREEK ISLANDS - $ 3821 Center St. - 402.346.1528

DINING GUIDE

ZEN COFFEE COMPANY - $

West - 132nd and Center

Downtown - 25th and Farnam

One Pacific Place

- Drive Thru Kiosk next to Trader Joes

Zen features over 50 popular drink options including Butter Beer, Honey Bee, Lavender Lady and Sunshine Daydream. Choose from hot or iced lattes, blenders, fruit smoothies and teas! Grab a flight or double cup to try the seasonal features! Delicious pastries and toasts made in house daily. —zencoffeecompany.com

STEAKHOUSES

CASCIO’S - $$

1620 S. 10th St. - 402-345-8313

Cascio’s is Omaha’s No. 1 steakhouse. We have been serving Omaha for 69 years. We feature steaks, chops, seafood, and Italian specialties. We have seven private party rooms, seating for up to 400 people, and plenty of parking. —casciossteakhouse.com

THE DROVER RESTAURANT & LOUNGE - $$$

2121 S. 73rd St. - 402-391-7440

Famous for the original Whiskey Steak. Truly a oneof-a-kind Midwestern experience. Excellent food, wine, service, and value. Rare...and very well done. LUNCH: Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-2 p.m., DINNER: Monday-Friday 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Saturday 4:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m., Sunday 4:30 p.m.-9 p.m., LOUNGE: Monday-Friday Cocktails only 2 p.m.-5 p.m. —droverrestaurant.com

We arrived in Nebraska from Washington intent on purchasing from farmers, ranchers & fishmongers who share our commitment for wholesome, sustainable fare. Our recipes use the Earth’s bounty the way it is intended ~ Wild and Natural ~ We compliment our dishes, pairing them with exquisite Pacific Northwest wines. –twistedcorkbistro.com

omahamagazine.com/pages/subscribe

Find the best food in Omaha!
Omaha 248 Olson Drive | Papillion PineandBlackBistro.com 1130 Sterling Ridge Drive | Omaha PacificEatingHouse.com TWISTED
BISTRO - $$ 10370 Pacific St. - 531.999.3777
CORK
DINING GUIDE LEGEND $=$ 1-10 • $$=$ 10-20 • $$$=$20-30 • $$$$=$30+

WELCOME BASEBALL FANS

Special Hours

June 14 - 23 Mon-Fri 11:00am - 10:30pm, Sat-Sun 4:00pm - 10:30pm

JUNE 2024 // 89 // 2024 First Place Steakhouse @The Drover Restaurant & Lounge | Gift Cards Available 2121 S. 73 St. | (402) 391-7440 | DroverRestaurant.com Open Mon - Fri 11:00am - 10:30pm | Dinner nightly from 5pm Home of the Whiskey Steak
// 90 // JUNE 2024 Authentic Italian Cuisine Locally Owned and Operated Charlie’s on the Lake 4150 South 144th St. Omaha NE 68137 402-894-9411 checkout.subscriptiongenius.com/omahapublications.com 40 YEARS SINCE 1 983 Subscribe Today! it’s about all of us. Connect With Your City Bonuses Customers receive two of our bonus issues—Best of Omaha Results and Faces of Omaha —for each year as a paid subscriber. $19.95 $29.95 $14.95 OMAHA MAGAZINE 1 YEAR 2 Magazines 8 Issues + Bonuses OMAHA MAGAZINE 2 YEARS 2 Magazines 16 Issues + Bonuses B2B MAGAZINE 2 YEARS 1 Magazine 12 Issues + Boneses SCHOOLHOUSE STYLE A BOLD & BRIGHT REDO // HOME OFFICE TO LOVE // MORE THAN MAN CAVE The Bakers Buy into Bohemia DECEMBER 2022 JANUARY 2023 OMAHA’S CEO REFLECTS ON HER DECADE IN OFFICE MAYORJEANSTOTHERT WOMEN IN BUSINESS VIDANYX KIDGLOV U.S. $5.95 FORMER HUSKER WILLIE MILLER DEFIES PROGNOSIS SIDELINES, FLATLINES, AND LIFELINES OmahaHome INCLUDED WITH AN Omaha Magazine SUBSCRIPTION!

explore.

LET’S PLAN A ROAD TRIP!

NEBRASKA

NEBRASKA WHISKEY CARNIVALE

June 1 at Sideshow Spirits Distillery & Cocktail Bar in Lincoln This one-day festival highlights Nebraska Distilleries, local vendors with spirits, food vendors, and live music. With your General Admission ticket, you receive a custom tasting glass and free samples from the distilleries’ booths. Local food trucks will be on site. —eventbrite.com/e/ nebraska-whiskey-carnivaletickets-753332055457

SANDHILLS SUMMER JAM - COUNTRY

MUSIC CONCERT SERIES June 7 - 8 at 205 Kramer Rd in Arthur Get ready for live music at Sandhills Summer Jam, an outdoor event that promises great music, fun, and good vibes under the summer sun! 21 and over event.

— eventbrite.com/e/sandhillssummer-jam-countrymusic-concert-seriestickets-751235033207

NEBRASKALAND DAYS: BUFFALO

BILL PRCA RODEO June 12 - 15 at the Wild West Arena in North Platte The NEBRASKAland Days Buffalo Bill Rodeo was founded as the "Old Glory Blowout" on July 4, 1882 by Buffalo Bill Cody himself. It's recognized by the PRCA as the

world's first spectator rodeo. It's back at NEBRASKAland Days every year with four nights of PRCA and WPRA Pro Rodeo!

— visitnebraska.com/northplatte/events/nebraskalanddays-buffalo-bill-prca-rodeo

GREAT AMERICAN COMEDY FESTIVAL

June 13 - 15 at the Johnny Carson Theatre in Norfolk The foundation of the Great American Comedy Festival is to honor Johnny Carson’s legacy as one of America’s greatest comedians, paying tribute to his status as a TV icon and remembering with gratitude the fondness Carson had for the community he called home.

—greatamericancomedyfestival.com

ANNUAL LINCOLN ARTS FESTIVAL

June 15-16 at Canopy Street Market in Lincoln The Lincoln Arts Festival is a unifying event for artists, art organizations, and enthusiasts. It offers a variety of artwork, demonstrations, interactive activities, live performances, an art market, creative zones, a culinary court, and a "World Stage" for diverse performances. The Emerging Artist Program supports artists in showcasing and selling their work.

—https://10times.com/ lincoln-arts-festival

AND MISSOURI

CHESTERFEST 2024-COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL June 22- 23 at 921 Croop St in Chester At Chesterfest, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy live performances from local bands and nationally known artists. Dance the night away to your favorite tunes or simply sit back and relax while soaking up the feeling of small-town Nebraska life. With a wide variety of entertainment, there's something for everyone, including great food, a car show, vendor fair, 5k run, sand volleyball, and many other events throughout the weekend.

—allevents.in/chester/chesterfest2024-country-music-festiva l/10000725297533447?ref= eventlist-new-nearby-cat

CELEBRATE AMERICA AT ARBOR LODGE June 25-July 8 at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park In celebration of America, and honoring our veterans, Nebraska City Blue Star Mothers will host a display of Quilts of Valor throughout Arbor Lodge Mansion. View this beautiful collection while also learning about Morton Family veterans and their patriotic service.

—arbordayfarm.org activities/events.cfm

JUNE 2024 // 91 // June 13-15
come and
DAYTRIPS IN NEBRASKA, IOWA, KANSAS,

IOWA

IOWA CRAFT BREW FESTIVAL June 1 at Lauridsen Amphitheater at Water Works Park in Des Moines Indulge in a selection of over 300 locally crafted beers and ciders while immersing yourself in live musical performances and savoring delicious offerings from food trucks. The Iowa Craft Brew Festival is a joyful celebration of Iowa's brewing culture, where breweries, cideries, and meaderies from across the state unite to showcase their craft to devoted enthusiasts. —beerfests.com/events/ iowa-craft-brew-festival

POPS ON THE RIVER: THE ULTIMATE EAGLES EXPERIENCE June 1 at the McGrath Amphitheatre in Cedar Rapids Pops on the River: The Ultimate Eagles Experience is a new outdoor concert experience. Sing and dance to your favorite hits from The Eagles, presented by The 7 Bridges Band and the entire symphony. Celebrate community along the banks of the Cedar River with Orchestra Iowa’s favorite tradition: an exhilarating musical experience in an informal, everyone-friendly atmosphere. Kick off your summer with Orchestra Iowa! —artsiowa.com/tickets/concerts/ pops-on-the-river

GLENN MILLER FESTIVAL

June 6-9 at Clarinda High School in Clarinda On the second weekend in June, visitors and entertainers from around the world will converge in Clarinda, Iowa, the Birthplace of Glenn Miller, to celebrate the music and memory of Alton Glenn Miller— American bandleader, trombonist, composer, and arranger who disappeared while directing the Glenn Miller AAF Band during World War II. Hear exciting bands from around the world topped off by the World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra. Enjoy the Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum and the Birthplace Home. —glennmiller.org

ST. LUDMILA’S KOLACH FESTIVAL

June 7 - 9 at St. Ludmila Catholic Church in Cedar Rapids Kolaches are back! Experience drive through Kolach sales, inflatables and kids’ activities, silent auctions, beer and wine, community meals, Polka Mass, and more! —traveliowa.com

RISEFEST 2024 June 7-8 at 112 Country Club Rd. In Sheldon RiseFest is a two-day Christian Music Festival that features the nation’s top Christian artists and speakers, as well as seminars, activities for kids of all ages, ministry outreach, camping, and much more. Free admission for children 10 and under. —riseministries.com/risefest/

EMANCIPATION DAY & HISTORIC

June 15 June 23

BASEBALL June 8 at Living History Farms in Urbandale Explore the Black experience in Iowa’s history! All presentations, activities, and exhibits are included with General Admission. Gain a better understanding of the legacy and hope of emancipation and explore the Black experience in Iowa from early farmsteads through the fight for civil rights. The day will end with a historic baseball game played by 1876 rules.

—lhf.org

WURST FESTIVAL June 15 at Amana Colonies in Amana Don’t miss out on this celebration of everything sausage at the summer’s best festival! The German tradition of making sausages is alive and well in the Amana Colonies. At the Market Barn area, you’ll find local sausage vendors, beer, drinks, desserts, and more. There will be creative and innovative twists on the beloved brat that will make your mouth water! During the day, sausage makers will compete for Best in Wurst and Weirdest Wurst. Throughout the day, enjoy live music, yard games, Wurst University, and a Dachshund Derby. Local businesses around town will host activities and specials as well. —amanacolonies.com/things-to-do/ festivals/wurst-festival/

IOWA STATE BACON EXPO June 19- 22 at Jeff & Deb Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center in Ames The Bacon Expo in Iowa State is a fun event for all ages centered on the love of and for bacon. It features traditional and unique bacon dishes, live entertainment, and educational booths from ISU students and industry vendors. 515.294.4950

—10times.com/ iowa-state-bacon-expo

VINTAGE IN THE VALLEY June 23 at Historic Valley Junction in Des Moines 75 vintage and handmade vendors take over 5th Street for the first time this year. Upcycled DSM is happy to announce the next market in partnership with @valleyjunction, “Vintage In The Valley.” This event will give the opportunity to shop on the streets filled with your favorite vintage sellers, artists, food vendors, and much more.

—valleyjunction.com/ upcoming-events

AFTERSHOCK ROCK CHILL ON THE HILL June 28 at The Hills Bar & Grill in Pleasant Hill Prepare to be transported to a time of big hair, leather jackets, and epic guitar solos as AfterShock cranks up the volume and takes you on a wild musical adventure. From iconic bands like Journey, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and many more, they'll be delivering all the anthems that defined a generation.

—allevents.in/altoona/ aftershock-rocks-chill-onthe-hill/200025762875533

DES MOINES ARTS FESTIVAL June 28-30 at Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines The Des Moines Arts Festival is Iowa’s largest and most prestigious arts and cultural event. This free three-day festival features 190 professional visual artists, free interactive arts activities, live music and performing arts on two stages, culinary offerings by local and regional restaurants and mobile food vendors, and much more.

—traveliowa.com/calendar/ des-moines-arts-festival/1649281/p

// 92 // JUNE 2024
EXPLORE CALENDAR

KANSAS

TACOS AND TEQUILA FESTIVAL

June

1 at Legends Field in Kansas City Get ready for an unforgettable night of tacos, tequila, and throwbacks. Featuring a Tequila Tasting Lounge, shot bars, Kansas City's best taco chefs, hand-crafted margaritas, Lucha Libre wrestling, Chihuahua Beauty Pageant, an exotic car showcase, salsa & queso competition, and more!

—visitkc.com/event-detail/ tacos-and-tequila-festival

D-DAY+80 COMMEMORATION

June

6 at Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home in Abilene The Eisenhower Foundation invites all World War II veterans to the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Abilene, on June 6, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day. The D-Day +80 Years event will include a Meet a World War II Veteran Reception, free admission to the Eisenhower Presidential Museum, speakers, a

—travelks.com/events

SUNFLOWER CLUSTER DOG SHOW

June 6-9 at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson This fourday event will feature a wide variety of dog breeds on display with fun events for the whole family.

—travelks.com/event/2024sunflower-cluster-dog-show

SMOKY HILL RIVER FESTIVAL

June

13-16 at Oakdale Park in Salina This Festival has three stages featuring bands, artists, and children's acts. With over 40 groups showcasing diverse musical styles, 130 craft artists, hands-on activities, roving performers, and over 30 food vendors, this will surely be a weekend to remember.

—10times.com/river-festival-salina

EXPLORATION OF SPACE NASA

EXHIBIT Through June 14 at the Aviation Heritage Museum in Coffeyville Families, students, and space enthusiasts from across the nation are all invited to this exceptional event. Immerse yourself in the wonders of space exploration and be inspired by the achievements of NASA. Admission is free.

—travelks.com/event/ exploration-of-space-nasa-exhibit

4TH ANNUAL WINE & WHEELS

AUTO SHOW June 16 at Stone Pillar Vineyard & Winery in Olathe This one-day event will feature cool, unique, and exotic automobiles, live music, prizes, and yard games. Vehicles must be registered to participate. No fee is required for attending this event.

—carshowpro.com/event/1456

ANIME FESTIVAL 2024 June 21-23 at Hyatt Regency in Wichita —eventbrite.com/e/anime-festivalwichita-2024-june-21st-23rd-2024registration-tickets-665026461047

JUNE 2024 // 93 // It would take a JETPACK to ge t a better view of Bailey Yard. A real one, not whatever that contraption is. The Golden Spike Tower offers the world’s best view of the world’s largest railyard. The observation deck gives you a panoramic view of Bailey Yard, but it’s the exhibits and the volunteers that make this a can’t-miss destination for anyone with a love for trains. That’s why the Golden Spike Tower gets Buffalo Bill’s Buffalo of Approval. DISCOVER MORE AT BuffaloBillsAdventures.com 800-955-4528 | BuffaloBillsAdventures.com EXPLORE CALENDAR

MISSOURI

VAILE MANSION STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL June 1 at Vail Mansion in Independence Dozens of craft, food and antique booths will be set up around the Mansion. The Vaile Society will be selling Strawberry Treats!  Shuttle service is available from William Chrisman High School. —vailemansion.org/ strawberryfestival

LIONEL RITCHIE AND EARTH, WIND & FIRE June 6 at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City Music legend Lionel Richie is bringing the “Sing A Song All Night Long Tour” to T-Mobile Center, where he will be joined by one of the best-selling bands of all time, Earth, Wind & Fire. Ritchie boasts a discography of albums and singles that is second to none, selling more than 125 million albums worldwide. Earth, Wind & Fire come close to Ritchie’s numbers at over 100 million albums sold worldwide. Don’t miss two of the most legendary music forces in the world! —t-mobilecenter.com

SUGAR CREEK SLAVIC FESTIVAL 2024

June 7-8 at Mike Onka Community Hall in Sugar Creek Celebrate Kansas City's rich Slavic heritage with two days of music, food, dance, drink, art, and more. —slavicfest.com

OZARKS FOOD TRUCK RALLY June 8 at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds in Springfield This is a one-day Family Fun event benefitting the Ozark Empire Fair Foundation and will feature the best gourmet food trucks and trailers from around the region. Featuring the brightest and most inspired street chefs bringing everything from burgers, pizza, BBQ, tacos, hot dogs, sandwiches, and sweet treats you can purchase, plus live local music on stage, and vendors. —ozarkempirefair.com

WHITE HART RENAISSANCE FAIRE

June 8-23 at White Hart Fairgrounds in Hartville At this family friendly event, visitors can step back in time and experience the wonder and magic of the renaissance era. With a variety of entertainment options, including musicians, storytellers, dancers, armored sword fights, and birds of prey shows, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

—visit.com/events/ white-hart-renaissance-faire

BEACH BOYS CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’

June 18 at Hamner’s Variety Theater in Branson Beach Boys California Dreamin’ takes audiences on a musical journey to the West coast beaches of the 1960s. Enjoy all of your favorite Beach Boys hits as the talented cast delivers these classic songs with authentic style. Beautiful vocal harmonies, energizing dance, comedy, colorful costumes, and historical narrative come together to make this an experience you won’t want to miss.

—branson.guide/branson-event/9597beach-boys-california-dreamintuesday-june-18-2024-10-00-am

SIKESTON HOT AIR BALLOON FESTIVAL June 21-22 at Sikeston Rodeo Grounds in Sikeston The Sikeston Hot Air Balloon Festival will feature tethered balloon rides, a balloon glow, crafts, food vendors, and live bands!

—visit.com/events/ sikeston-hot-air-balloon-festival

ROCK THE COUNTRY

June 28-29 at Brick’s Off Road Park in Poplar Bluff Headlined by Kid Rock, Jason Aldean, and Hank Williams, Jr., this country festival is visiting seven small towns across the country, and Poplar Bluff, Missouri is one of them. Get the most out of this twoday party with optional camping. —rockthecountry.com

LINCOLN.ORG/ OMAHAMAG

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE IN LINCOLN, NEBRASK A YOLO! Zip around the city and explore everything Lincoln has to offer from an exciting new point of view.

// 94 // JUNE 2024
EXPLORE CALENDAR
WORLD-CLASS CONCERTS LOCAL FESTIVALS & ANNUAL EVENTS GOSARPY.COM SPORTS GALORE A SARPY COUNTY SUMMER AWAITS! BELLEVUE • GRETNA • LA VISTA • PAPILLION • SPRINGFIELD • OFFUTT AFB Experience VISIT US TO FIND OUT ABOUT ALL THE LATEST FOODS, FESTIVALS & EVENTS. IT’S ALL SO NEAR, SO FUN!

WHERE DO KIDS COME FROM?

One day one of my kids asked me where sardines came from. I thought it was one of my kids, possibly because this particular child shared my ear lobes, my brilliant blue eyes, my charming aura of insouciance, and my street address. I’ve since researched this relationship via a series of surreptitious Ancestry-dot-Com mail-in test submissions, and an exhaustive search of the file folder marked “Adoption” in my desk. One can never be too sure – no matter how many covert swabs are required.

Anyway, one of my “kids” asked me, “Where do sardines come from?”

“Sardinia,” I replied. “You’re messing with me again, right?”

Many of my children have trust issues with me. Perhaps rooted in my responses to questions like, “Where did I come from?” or “What is Art?” or “Why is combining peanut butter and chocolate a perversion of the natural order?”

“No, I’m not kidding,” I said. “Sardines come from Sardinia. That’s why they named the island 'Sardinia.' It’s analogous to why they named that Indonesian island Java.”

“Oh, I get it,” the kid muttered while shaking their head. “Very funny, Dad, they named it Java because they grow coffee there…a cup of java, as they say. Haha.”

I shook my head, “No, they named it Java because of all the software engineers who live there. You know, Java, that object-oriented programming language that started back in ’95 when desktop computers ran on Windows. If you want coffee go to Kansas.”

“Kansas?” My response: “Yeah, Coffeyville. Google it.”

The child sighed –a deep, despairing sigh. “Okay, Dad. Anyway, sardines are awful. The worst fish in the world… So…”

“Worst fish in the world, you say? Hey, kid, ask your Scandinavian ancestors about Lutefisk, whitefish soaked in lye.”

“Soaked in lye? Well at least you’re not claiming Lutefisk is made from old guitarlike stringed musical instruments.” (The kid might indeed be mine). “How do you

know I have any Scandinavian roots? Did you swab me again in my sleep?”

“Never mind that.” I went on. “You want to know about a really unpopular fish?”

“Actually no, I was hoping to just go outside now and pick bagworms off the evergreens.”

“No such luck, kid. Anchovies!” Another sigh. “Anchovies?”

“Yep, oily little five-inch fingerlings that they’ve been harvesting near Sicily for centuries.”

“Never heard of them.”

“That’s because you’ve only ever gotten pizza from a Hut, or a Papa, or a Caesar… They wouldn’t know an anchovy from a basil leaf at one of those joints.”

“I assume you’re now going to tell me way more than I want to, or will ever need to know about anchovies, right? You going to go all the way back to the Phoenicians? You always start with the Phoenicians.”

“Yep. They would take those little anchovies and salt dry them in the sun and then press the oil out of them and make a fish sauce. The Romans did it too, and improved on it. Called it garum. Everybody used the stuff. It was like Heinz catsup back in the day.”

“Is it catsup or ketchup?” asked the kid.

“Never mind that for now. The Romans shipped this garum stuff all over the Roman world. And we still have it today in a modern form. We call it…”

“I know, Dad, I know… We call it Worcestershire Sauce.” I nodded with pride, “Yep.”

No doubt about it, the last box was checked. That was my kid for sure. Only one of my spawn would have nailed the answer. I made them all Puttanesca for dinner…with extra anchovies.

Listen to Otis Twelve host “Morning Classics,” Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays 6AM—10AM, on KVNO, Omaha Classical Radio, 90.7 or kvno.org.

NOT FUNNY // COLUMN BY OTIS TWELVE // PHOTOGRAPH BY BILL SITZMANN
JUNE // 96 // 2024
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