Omaha Chefs Pop Up All Summer Long

Omaha's Dandelion pop-up restaurant series is such a brilliant idea, it's hard to believe it all came together less than a year ago.

First, there was the collaboration: take one part visionary restauranteur (Nick Bartholomew), plus one part trendy branding agency (Secret Penguin). Mix in an energetic and supportive community organization (The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce). 

Then, bring in the talent -- a line-up of the city's most innovative and talked-about chefs. The ones whose tables everyone wants to book.

Secure the venue. How about a semi-private courtyard downtown?

And, finally, come up with just the right name. If there's a better one than Dandelion for a Midwest pop-up, I'd like to hear it.

Voilà, the perfect storm for a gourmet lunch hour.

"I still get really excited thinking about how it all came together," says Kristina Lee, director of operations for Dandelion. 

The serendipity started when Bartholomew, owner of one of the city's most beloved breakfast joints, Over Easy, as well as The Market House (which is rebuilding after being devastated by the January 2016 Old Market fire) and the upcoming Boho Rice, passed by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and wondered about their courtyard space. "It was mainly being used for storage so they were happy to let us use it," Kristina says. 

 Ready for the 2017 season!

Ready for the 2017 season!

The Dandelion team came together with an idea to invite chefs in for summer Friday lunches, and everyone knew they had a hit on their hands from day one -- which happened to be Tacos Rule Everything Around Me (T.R.E.A.M.), helmed by chef Tim Maides.

"There is such a sense of community here in Omaha, and people have really come together to support Dandelion. It's a win-win for everyone. The chefs get a chance to try something new and new people get to try their food. For example, last year, Dario Schicke (of Dario and Avoli) made cevapcici, a Serbian dish that was amazing."

Lee says that last year's lunches were nearly all sold out, "And for the last several months, everyone's been asking us, 'when will Dandelion start again?'"

The wait is over. Dandelion is here and, by pure coincidence (today being Cinco de Mayo) the season will once again kick off with tacos... only this time, they have an Okinawan twist, courtesy of chef Dave Utterback.

I plan to make Dandelion my summer Friday HQ this year,  and The Beaspora will be running feature stories on each week's chef and menu, so, watch this space, and come say hello at Friday lunch!

 It all began, as many great things do, with tacos

It all began, as many great things do, with tacos

 Scratch Bakery donuts will be in regular rotation this season

Scratch Bakery donuts will be in regular rotation this season

 Last year, chef Paul Kulik of The Boiler Room, Le Bouillon and Via Farina, brought crepes to Dandelion

Last year, chef Paul Kulik of The Boiler Room, Le Bouillon and Via Farina, brought crepes to Dandelion

 Crazy Gringa Hot Sauce spices up the proceedings

Crazy Gringa Hot Sauce spices up the proceedings