Omaha Cooking & Culinary Schools
Omaha, with a population of more than 430,000 individuals, serves as not only Nebraska's largest city, but its culinary epicenter as well. Quietly, the city has been emerging as a foodie destination that is freeing itself from the shadows of the small Midwestern town known for its steaks. A major movement is occurring in the culinary world in the region: farm-to-fork (or farm-to-table). Those previously mentioned steaks are part of the state's long and storied agricultural heritage. Integrating that heritage with modern efforts in sustainability and organic farming is a natural fit, as restaurateurs and chefs alike foster local sourcing in their establishments.
Complementing the city's agricultural history are several cultural influences that have impacted the development of culinary tastes in the area. Students of culinary schools in Omaha will learn that the city has a deep connection to Sicily and the Czech Republic as immigrants moved to the area during its formative period. From baklava to kolach pastries, sausage to cheese, the Czech culinary heritage can be found throughout the city's many dining establishments. As for the Sicilian Ties, Omaha is still home to Cascio's, the last original restaurant to open in Little Italy. Other popular Italian restaurants include Mister C's, The Pallazzo Italiano, and Cantoni's.
Famous restaurants in Omaha
Students of culinary schools in Omaha should get to know the city's several distinct geographic areas, which have developed their own flavor profiles. From Dario's Brasserie in Dundee to Block 16 in Downtown Omaha, Lot 2 in Benson to The Grey Plume in Midtown, Omaha's restaurants are at once revitalizing neighborhoods and expanding the culinary sensibilities of the area.
- Dario's Brasserie: Helmed by Chef/Owner Dario Schicke, the restaurant opened in 2006 and operates as an informal French café. Blending Chef Schike's classical training with his love of Belgian Beers, Dario's Brasserie offers a fine dining menu that's complemented with a wide ranging selection of Belgian ale.
- The Grey Plume: An award winning restaurant, The Grey Plume is a critical smash led by Chef/Owner Clayton Chapman. Located in the Midtown Crossing, the restaurant is recognized for its innovative take on American cuisine. Relying on a seasonal menu influenced by locally-grown livestock and produce, Chef Chapman takes a farm-to-table approach that has become a fan favorite.
- Lot 2: Owned by Brad and Johanna Marr, Lot 2 has become a culinary destination in Benson. It offers a fresh take on New American fare with a focus on locally sourced ingredients that are complemented with a broad selection of fine wines.
- Block 16: Co-owners and co-chefs Paul Urban and Jessica Joyce Urban are dedicated to the farm-to-table movement. Known for its street-style food, Block 16 has won awards for it hamburgers, mac and cheese, and lasagnas -- and has become recognized as a local favorite in several publications.
Learn from famous chefs in Omaha
Chefs like Jessica Joyce Urban, Joel Mahr and Dario Schike are just a handful of the chefs in Omaha infusing classical traditions with contemporary techniques that are shaping Omaha as a foodie destination. Other chefs impacting the local culinary scene include several dedicated to the farm-to-table movement. Most recently, the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society gave the Producers Choice Chef Award to five chefs in Omaha -- recognizing their work to promote local agriculture and sustainable living. The recipients included the following:
- Isa Moscowitz - Modern Love
- Ben Maides - Avoli Osteri
- Colin and Jessica Duggan - Kitchen Table
- Glen Wheeler - Spencer's for Steaks & Chops
For prospective chefs, honing their skills in the kitchens of James Beard Foundation nominees and award winners is a great opportunity. Chef Clayton Chapman of The Grey Plume has been a semifinalist five times for the Best Chef Midwest, while Jon Seymour (V. Mertz) has also received Best Chef Midwest recognition. In addition, chefs in Omaha have received recognition from their peers as being some of the best chefs in the country, according to Best Chefs America's annual publication. Familiar names such as Clayton Chapman, Joel Mahr, Glen Wheeler, Jessica Joyce and Dario Schike made the list, along with others such as John Engler (The Grey Plume), Paul Kulik (The Boiler Room), and Milton Yin (Hiro 88).
Omaha culinary schools & career outlook
For prospective students desiring to work alongside award-winning chefs such as Clayton Chapman, completing an education at a culinary school is the first step. Traditionally, students can select from one of four areas of study while at culinary school in Omaha:
This training can prepare graduates for a range of professional careers both in and out of the kitchen, such as head chef, pastry chef, baker, sous chef, hospitality director and restaurant manager.
In its most recent labor summary report in March 2015, the Nebraska Department of Labor revealed the leisure and hospitality industry experienced the largest month-over-month gains, growing by 3.6 percent between February and March 2015. Across the entire state, the Department of Labor projects 7.7 percent increase in employment opportunities in culinary-related fields between 2010 and 2022. Graduates of culinary schools in Omaha should be able to leverage that atmosphere of growth to pursue positions both within Omaha and across the state. The National Restaurant Association projects another 6,500 jobs will be created in the restaurant industry in the state between 2015 and 2025.
- National Restaurant Association, Nebraska, http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2014/nebraska
- Best Chefs America, Nebraska, https://www.bestchefsamerica.com/the-chefs&filter_search&filter_state=ne
- Projections Central, Nebraska , projectionscentral.com
- James Beard Foundation, The 2015 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists, http://www.jamesbeard.org/blog/2015-restaurant-and-chef-award-semifinalists
- Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, 2015 Producers Choice Chef Awards, http://nebsusag.org/chef.html
- Nebraska Department of Labor, Omaha Labor Summary, March 2015, http://www.dol.nebraska.gov/infolink/LaborAreaSummaries/LAS_Omaha.pdf
- Prairie Fire, Culinary Tourism in Nebraska, http://www.prairiefirenewspaper.com/2013/09/culinary-tourism-in-nebraska
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nebraska, Occupational and Employment Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ne.htm
- Nebraska Department of Labor, Long-Term Projections, https://neworks.nebraska.gov/admin/gsipub/htmlarea/uploads/Projections%20Publication.pdf