Taste of Omaha

What: Food from local restaurants, live music, culinary demonstrations, dance and children’s entertainment

When: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday

Where: Heartland of America Park and Lewis & Clark Landing in Omaha, River’s Edge Park in Council Bluffs

Admission: Free; food and beverage tickets are eight for $5

Info: 402-356-8003 or tasteofomaha.info

Parking: Lots of free parking available on the Iowa side, near Harrah’s Casino, off Interstate 80 Exit 0. A free shuttle throughout festival will run from Iowa to Lewis & Clark Landing. There’s also parking at the Gallup campus with a free shuttle there to Lewis & Clark Landing.

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This year, the Taste of Omaha festival is expanding — over the Missouri River.

For the first time, the festival will partner with Loessfest and take place on both the Omaha and Council Bluffs sides of the river.

The festival, which starts Friday and runs through May 31, is a free event that features food from some of the area’s best restaurants along with live music and other entertainment.

Festival organizer Mike Mancuso said one reason the event continues to be so popular is because of Omaha’s reputation for serving great food. That, coupled with free family activities, makes the perfect combination.

Taste of Omaha began in 1998 at Heartland of America Park. In 2005, the festival moved to the Lewis and Clark Landing. This year, it will expand over the Bob Kerrey Bridge and into Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park on Friday night and Saturday.

Festival-goers can enjoy live cooking demonstrations and enjoy wine and beer in two separate gardens. For kids, the festival includes rides, balloons, face painting and performances all weekend long.

A pavilion in River’s Edge Park will be showcasing some of Iowa’s restaurants and caterers and also include beer and wine gardens.

Also on the Council Bluffs side of the river, festival goers can step back in time at the “Taste the Wild West” area, which will include food like barbecue, grilled specialties, kettle corn and “cowboy favorites.” On-site restaurant vendors will prepare Mexican, Italian, Greek, Oriental, Mediterranean, Polish as well as Continental and American cuisine. Desserts will include cheesecake and ice cream, among others.

The festival begins Friday at 11 a.m. at Heartland of America Park. The Lewis and Clark Landing and River’s Edge Parks will open at 5 p.m. and remain open until 11 p.m. On Saturday, hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. On Sunday, hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The festival is free.

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Click the image to see maps of both sides of the river

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COOKING

FRIDAY

6:30 p.m.: “Bacon Buns.” Learn about an Omaha secret with a variety of ingredients and choices to suit your taste for breakfast or lunch. Presented by Dan Mackevicius of The Lithuanian Bakery.

8 p.m.: “Delicious Gluten-Free Cooking.” Tips on how to prepare light and gluten-free versions of decadent dishes. Presented by Chef Steven Teters of Real Eats Meals.

SATURDAY

11:30 a.m.: “Cool & Fresh Summer Ideas.” Cooking demo and meet Josh Valentine from Bravo’s “Top Chef” Season 10. Chef Valentine will prepare his favorite summertime “cool” dishes. Enjoy his story as he prepares a cantaloupe soup and his unique twist on shrimp ceviche.

1 p.m.: Four-course awarding-winning meal, presented by students at the Institute for the Culinary Arts at Metro Community College. Each half-hour, the students will create the appetizer, the salad, the main entree and the dessert.

4 p.m.: “Omaha’s Legends — Omaha Press Club Rueben Paired With Storz Beer.” Taste Omaha’s legendary Rueben sandwich and learn the recipe for the sandwich and the Blackstone’s Rueben dressing. Presented by executive chefs from the Omaha Press Club.

5 p.m.: Chef Mario Ochoa, Hy-Vee chef and Institute for the Culinary Arts graduate, will demonstrate how best to prepare sockeye salmon.

7 p.m.: “Big Mama’s Made-From-Scratch Cornmeal.” Presented by Patricia “Big Mama” Barron, of Big Mama’s Kitchen & Catering and Big Mama’s Sandwich Shop.

SUNDAY

1 p.m.: “Amazing Flavors,” featuring unique balsamic vinegars, oils and seasonings. Learn easy techniques and ideas for salads, entrees and desserts. Presented by Executive Chef Jim Trebbien and registered dietitian Patty Trebbien of Chef 2 at Midtown Crossing.

2 p.m.: Chef Cory Guyer of US Foods will teach you how to make your own granola bars.

3 p.m.: Chef Bob Haney will talk about the ins and outs of crepes and pancakes. He will have an interesting solution to making the best of both.

4 p.m.: “Omaha Culinary Tours.” Experience Omaha’s great restaurants while learning about the city. Presented by Executive Chef Jim Trebbien and Suzanne Allen of Omaha Culinary Tours.

This complete guide of local music, movies, dining and entertainment will have you weekend ready

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