Maides Makes Dandelion Again
Next week marks the one-year anniversary of Dandelion so it comes as no surprise that they're bringing back their very first chef: pop-up king, taco king (because he's so ta-king awesome), soap king, Tim Maides.
If you've been paying attention to the Omaha restaurant scene for a minute, you probably already know about Tim. He was the opening chef at Over Easy before moving on to Twisted Cork, then consulting at Mercury and now working as a sous-chef at Omaha Country Club. But he was also a founding member of TREAM (Tacos Rule Everything Around Me), a gang of three that was doing guerrilla taco events for a while last year at some of Omaha's most notable restaurants. Oh, and he's co-founder -- with fellow Omaha restaurant vet Ryan Cook -- of Benson Soap Mill, the locally-sourced-and-produced soap line with fragrances like camphor and clove, eucalyptus and rosemary, and coffee.
"Benson Soap Mill started out because Ryan worked in the industry and he saw there was a lot of waste with lard and thought there had to be something he could do with it," says Tim. "In the beginning, we'd go around to restaurants and ask them for their lard so we could make the base for our soaps, but as we got bigger, we went to a vegan-base. I found Simply Sunflower, a company out of Ord that makes sunflower oil for cooking. They were touting that their oil had 41 percent Vitamin E and I asked them if we could use it for our soaps, because, of course, that's great for skin."
Maides is proud that Benson Soap Mill has grown into a well-loved brand while supporting local farmers and other micro-industries (the coffee in the Coffee Scrub Bar is from Mug Life coffee shop in Midtown, the Aromas Chai bar has chai from Aromas in Benson). His approach to soap mirrors his cooking philosophy: work with what's available right here, right now, and support local. "It''s the perfect fusion, actually. One chef that has our soaps in his restaurant's bathroom says that people walk out smelling their hands. It's cool that, like every other part of the dining experience, the kind of soap in the bathroom can impart a memory."
The Proustian call of great meals past is also inspiring Tim's Dandelion this week. It's Biergarten, featuring currywurst and crinkle fries, a Berlin-born street food that Tim, who was born in Switzerland, seeks out whenever he travels to Europe. "One of my buddies had just gotten back from Germany and was asking me where he could get currywurst in Omaha," says Tim. "I said, 'you can't, but I have a recipe.'"
Tomorrow, Tim will unleash his currywurst (+ a vegan cauliflower version) on Omaha. The opportunity to do so is what he loves most about Dandelion. "It gives chefs a chance to flex their creativity and have fun with something they couldn't normally do in their own restaurants," Tim says. "For me, cooking should always be fun."