Experiencing a Kano pop-up dinner series is like taking an adventure through pure imagination. Tickets only show how many courses will be served, and the menu is a complete surprise. This tasting menu strategy forces diners to give all control over to Chef Kane Adkisson, allowing the counter space between them to be the foundation of trust for that night’s journey.
Adkisson’s culinary background began with attending The Institute for Culinary Arts at Metropolitan Community College and working downtown at The Boiler Room. He later traveled the globe to gain further experience at several restaurants carrying Michelin Stars, including Maaemo in Oslo, Norway, both Saison and Coi in San Francisco, and RyuGin in Tokyo, Japan. The knowledge he gained set the tone for the concept of Kano, involving brushstrokes of French technique mixed with the influence of Japanese cuisine, all while emphasizing live fire cookery.
In 2016, he began his concept for Kano in San Francisco and soon realized the importance of his connection to Midwestern foods. For some of his first pop-ups, he shipped a few ingredients from Nebraska to California, such as Shadow Brook Farm’s “Natalie in Grey” chèvre and Morgan Ranch’s reserve ribeyes. The support from his Omaha community was astounding. Even Chef Tim Nicholson donated beef in a GoFundMe fundraiser for the first Kano dinner. As support continued, Adkisson felt a tug to come back home. His family, including his two brothers Kye and Collin, were his biggest supporters in getting their hands messy while working alongside him in the kitchen.
His experience in San Francisco was not taken for granted, as it allowed him to meet French ceramicist, Carole Neilson, who inspired and created his current plating. This pairing of plates with the elegance of each course beautifully leads each guest through Adkisson’s imagination. Another inspirational connection he made was with a coffee expert, Ian McCarthy, who helped Adkisson with campfire-style coffee at tableside during his first few pop-ups in San Francisco. This is the same coffee currently handed out as a favor at the end of each dinner service.
Every Kano pop-up in Omaha has been hosted at either Yoshitomo or Archetype’s downtown location. Tickets are announced monthly on Kano’s social media sites and can then be purchased online. When purchasing tickets, there is an option to add on a wine pairing service by sommelier Jeffrey Koster, which should be highly encouraged as it perfectly enhances every course.
Dinner begins with a complimentary cocktail themed for the night, then progresses with a few small bites reflecting ingredients that are in season. The courses grow to be more substantial and showcase high quality meats and produce. One of the most beautiful courses served had a woven lattice of thinly sliced asparagus. Each flavor profile is unique as Adkisson explained that bitter is a flavor people may find intimidating, but it is a flavor that comes with sensation. There is no need for worry as after all of the savory, there are several courses to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Most of the courses served will not make a reappearance, but there are a few that are “too good” to leave out of repetition, such as the pomme soufflé bite of puffed potato filled with smoked paddle-fish (a play on fish and chips), the beloved cornflake bite consisting of milk inside of a cornflake shell, and his mother’s savory dinner rolls.
Adkisson has been searching for a permanent home for Kano. He wants this space to have a wood oven and a hearth as this is key to providing him a variety of ways to cook with fire, such as using the coals for heating, hanging ingredients to smoke, and for use with dehydration. He also emphasized the importance of being able to personally share the story of each course, not through a wait staff, but through chef interaction at a counter that seats 20-25 people. It would be the one tasting menu-only restaurant in Omaha, but he enjoys the thought of people being asked just two questions, “Would you like the wine pairing?” and “Do you want sparkling or still water?”
It is easy for the Midwest to be known for steak and potatoes, but stepping outside of the box and trying new things allows for talent in our community to shine. For how to support Adkisson’s dream, he said, “As much as I would love to have you eat my food every single night, the other fine dining chefs are pushing the envelope too, and we thrive off of each other. Concepts like mine do not work without their concepts too. Support us all publicly by talking about it and using your voice. It only stays your voice if you don’t share it.”