Cherry Tomato and Walnut Pasta Sauce with Honey & Lime

Non cooks don’t understand why cooks have sooo many cookbooks. It’s because they don’t realize that cooks are not just looking for recipes, some of us are mainly looking for means of inspiration. I might buy a new book not for the recipes, but for the thoughts that it provokes in me. It might be from the photos or the stories about the region it describes. It’s all about keeping a current flow of ideas in and hopefully, memorable dishes going out.

Tim comments about wanting to see more of our recipes, and I will try to print more here … more »

How to kill your restaurant (or any business for that matter)

I’ve only been in business for a year, so how am I in a position to propose a title that promises such sage advice? I just pay attention to the smaller voices in my mind and allow the democratic process to give them a vote also.

The food business is a romantic one. It carries with it a mystique that draws the dreamer to be foolish enough to consider owning one. But when reality hits, the dreamer has a choice to make; either cut the rope and sail away, or stay in and try to tough it out.

If the … more »

A Monday Afternoon Drive

I took the day to drive through the rolling Nebraska countryside and visit three of my primary growers. Harvest Home in Waverly, Sanders Farm in Dwight and Shadowbrook Farm just outside Lincoln. It was a great way to spend my day off.

It was interesting to see the distinct styles of their farms, each one reflecting the personalities of their owner, like how their tomatoes were caged or not, what varieties they chose to grow, or how they dealt with weeds. Every place was different, but they all had one thing in common. They are pursuing the life they love.… more »

Working for the weekend

One great thing about owning your own restaurant is that you get to serve what you like. No corporate dictation sent down to us from on high. Nope, I like the autonomy.

But it was your comments on the pasta selection last week that prompted us to repeat last Friday’s entrée. I counted at least a half dozen people, unrelated to one another, who said nearly verbatim, “I’ve never tasted anything like this before.” So why set it aside just yet?

Tonight’s Friday Pasta is Whole Wheat Fettuccine with Cherry Tomatoes and Walnuts. These cherries come from Harvest Home more »

Restoration

I feel so incredibly fortunate today.

I love my job. I love my restaurant. I love the weather this morning. I love the new music playing. I am about as happy as I can remember.

Strange that I had to force myself to type these words today. Why would I find it difficult to say that I am doing well and enjoying life as I am?

Let me speak from my experience.

I am coming out of a dark tunnel that has lasted maybe the last 8 years or so. Some might call it midlife crisis. Others would just simply … more »

All you can eat for $4.99

I love to travel, though I don’t get to do it as much as I would like. I’ve been fortunate to visit a number of countries in my short years. I think this experience is an unseen force in shaping the restaurant. I wish I had kept track, but I would bet the most commented sentiment about our place in the first six months of opening was “I don’t feel like I’m in Lincoln.”

I take that as a compliment, not because I dislike my town, but because it affirms some of the risks we took in planning our place.… more »

It smells good in here

Thomas Keller refers to the sound of the kitchen as a barometer of how his staff is doing in their work. He says he can tell if everyone is on top of their tasks or if they are in the weeds just by what he hears. I didn’t understand this until I got a kitchen of my own.

I remember in the first few months out of college while at my first job when I realized that class work was no longer the norm. How odd that after years and years of education and wanting to be through with it, … more »

No regrets

I’ve made some bad decisions in life, and depending on their degree of severity, the impact of those choices linger long after the action is complete.

But I’ve also made a few good decisions along the way, ones that I don’t regret, but am glad I did so. One is buying my wife a dog for Valentine’s Day. Even though I should have done it years ago, it was a great move. I think I may be nominated for Husband of the Year.

Seriously, this time of year reminds me that I did the right thing about three years ago … more »