Paul Kulik, owner and chef of Le Bouillon and Via Farina, says there’s an “incalculable loyalty” to Omaha that can’t easily be explained — people who grow up here may leave, but many of them find their way back eventually.
That boomerang effect is likely one factor behind the city’s now-flourishing food scene, as a number of boundary-pushing chefs have returned home to Omaha after leaving to attend culinary school and work in top-notch restaurants in Europe and elsewhere in the United States. Their genuine passion for food is palpable when you visit their restaurants, study their menus and learn that they source their ingredients from local producers as much as possible, Kulik says.
“The fact that restaurants are good in an environment where there’s zero chance of being famous or wealthy — there’s not going to be a David Chang or a Sean Brock that comes out of Omaha, end of story, full stop — you have to scratch your head and say, ‘Wait a minute, why are people doing this?’” said Kulik. “The people who are doing it are doing it because they care. This is what matters to us. There’s such sincerity and such honesty there that it’s almost breathtaking.”