V. Sublime Street Food
"I think of Dandelion as Omaha's street food," says chef Jacob Newton of V. Mertz. "If you were going to go to Thailand, you would want to eat the must-have food that the locals grew up eating, so, for the pop-up, I wanted to do the food I ate in the summertime growing up in Nebraska."
For Jake, this means sandwiches: a roast beef, a chicken confit, a BLT and a vegetarian option starring beets. But these sandwiches may be a few culinary steps up from the ones that came out of his childhood kitchen in Papillion -- they have the advantage of being served on V. Mertz bread, with V. Mertz house-made condiments, and produce and meats that have been sourced from V. Mertz's preferred growers and producers. "We want them to have the same thoughtfulness and integrity that we put into everything we do at the restaurant," Jake says.
Thoughtful food from V. Mertz (photos by Joshua Foo)
It was these qualities that drew Jake back to Omaha after more than a year cooking with chef Mike Lata at The Ordinary in Charleston, S.C. "I had worked at V. Mertz earlier in my career, and it caught my heart," he says.
Jake attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Denver and also credits several local chefs, including Jon Seymour, formerly of V. Mertz and now at the new Marriott Hotel in the Capitol District, and (Beaspora patron saint) Nick Strawhecker of Dante as early influences. "I learned most of what I know from Omaha chefs," he says. "The Midwest always pulls you back."
Jake says that one of his biggest takeaways from his time in Charleston is how much food drives the culture down South, and he's hoping that Omaha's emerging restaurant scene -- and events like Dandelion that promote it -- will continue to get people excited about great dining in Omaha, at all price points.
"Yes, you can go to V. Mertz and get a Morgan Ranch wagyu ribeye to share for $110, or you can go and sit in one of the most beautiful tables in the city, in the Old Market Passageway, split a house-made charcuterie plate and each have a glass of wine for about $20 a person," he says. "We want people to know it's okay to walk through those gates."