You can thank a series of unexpected events for today's Dandelion. A few years back, Carl Cubiotti was moving from Northwestern Nebraska to Kansas City for work when his car broke down in Omaha. He lived out of it for five weeks, before deciding to stick around town for a while.
But long before that, there was an Easter Sunday when he was living in Lincoln and planned to go to Valentino's for dinner. "It was across the street from our house and the parking lot was full all day, so we decided to get a pork leg instead. We spent the whole day slow-cooking it and drinking beers outside, and you could just see the smoke rolling over to Valentino's and everyone wondering what we were making."
From that day on, he was hooked. "Barbecue just brings people together. You can be anywhere and that smell of smoke and meat will attract people and get a conversation started." Not to mention the alchemy. "It's all about time and consistency. You've got to rely on reading the smoke to see what's going on in there. It's like being a mad scientist!"
He's just as dedicated to his sauces, made with ingredients he grows in his home garden. When I asked him which came first, the cooking or the gardening, he said they were one in the same. He grew up in Rochester, NY (how he got from there to NE is another plot twist) with an Italian grandmother who cooked what she grew -- and every Sunday, about 30 family members would gather 'round her table to eat it. "I'm going home for Christmas this year and I'll be doing the cooking," he says.
If Carl's cooking for you and you're not family or a friend, you will be by the end of the meal. He hopes to open his own smokehouse one day, "Just a little shack with life and movement, where it's loud because everyone is engaged in the conversation."
Until then, you can get his food at today's Dandelion or by contacting Carl directly at firstname.lastname@example.org/308.430.5331. "Order some food from me and I will bring it out to you," Carl says. Even vegetarian? "Yes, and it will be the best barbecue you've ever had."