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Why Tanner O’Dell Is Going To Be Famous, My First Live Radio Interview, + Vegan Eats in Lincoln, Nebraska

Why Tanner O’Dell Is Going To Be Famous, My First Live Radio Interview, + Vegan Eats in Lincoln, Nebraska

Blog posts are a few months out from where I am currently. Please check out Instagram (@wtfveganfood), Facebook, and Twitter for day-to-day news.

Written September 25, 2012

It’s about quarter to one (in the afternoon) and today has already been magnificent thanks to the one and only, Tanner O’Dell. I met Tanner through Inge Bothma a couple of weeks ago when I was in Austin. Inge teaches a vegan cooking class at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts. After meeting Inge she invited me to check out one of her cooking classes and to talk to the group about my trip. I met Inge at Austin’s Vegan Party Barge, which I was invited to by Craig Wilkins of Vegan Houston. I met Craig in-person for the first time when I arrived in Houston a few weeks before I was in Austin. And I was initially in contact with Craig because he emailed me nearly a year ago, to tell me that when I get to Houston I could sleep on his couch. Phew! :) SO you see boys and girls, networking is powerful and can be (as it has been in this case) rather life changing.

In other words: Will Travel For Vegan Food outreach = email from Craig + invite to Austin Vegan Party Barge = introduction to Inge + invite to Inge’s cooking class = introduction to Tanner + two radio interviews = Ellen Degeneres calling me on the phone… err.. scratch that last one. Got ahead of myself. ;)

Haha.. hopefully I haven’t totally spun your head around and you’re ready to hear about my day so far. Yes? Yes! Hoorayz!

Some people have a gift of making those they interact with feel like a million, bright, shiny dollah bills (coins?). Tanner O’Dell is one of ’em. Like I said, I met Tanner via Inge’s cooking class. After I spoke to the class Tanner asked me if I’d be interested in being on his radio show. As it turns out, Tanner is a radio host and aspiring entrepreneur, in addition to an incredibly genuine and well spoken young man. And get this, he’s only eighteen!. At 29 (I’ll be 30 in 3 days! Wooo!!) I’m only now learning about valuable aspects of life and business that Tanner has already got down pat. This aspiring plant-based chef networks like a rockstar – and he does so by building relationships with people he likes through an ongoing and organic process. It’s awesome!

SIDE NOTE: To learn how you too can network like a rockstar, check out the video that touches on this exact topic from one of my personal favorites, Marie Forleo: Networking Basics – 8 Tips to Network Without Being Fake.

Tanner’s attention to social media (something you all know I highly value) paired with his unwavering desire to connect with the world around him enabled a connection when I posted a picture of food from a restaurant in Omaha, NE. What are the chances then that he would be on his one-week vacation from culinary school – in his home town of Lincoln, NE – at the very same time?! Within a matter of hours he arranged an on-air, radio interview with the local Greatest Hits morning show with Matt and Lindsay, on 106.3 KFRX — I’m actually sitting in their parking lot right now, writing this!! Tanner also arranged for a local veg restaurant owner to open his doors early so that I could try their food before I left town. Had I given him any more advanced notice I’m certain he would have landed me a spot on the local TV news station, another radio interview, and who knows what else. Without question or asking anything in return, Tanner put his ongoing networking connections to work and secured great PR opps for me that I would have otherwise completely missed. I wasn’t even planning to visit Lincoln in the first place! Dang, he’s good! :)

Morning drive in Lincoln, NE

On my drive into the radio station this morning (had to be there at 7AM) Tanner called me to say that he was right behind me. Ha! So he pulled around and I followed him the rest of the way. I was quickly introduced to Matt and Lindsay, the hit radio show’s hosts, and within a few minutes I was talking LIVE on the air to who knows how many listeners. After my initial intro a listener called in, off air, to ask if I eat yeast. :) I was just thrilled to realize that someone .. anyone.. actually HEARD my voice. Live! On the radio! In Lincoln Nebraska! Haha :) :)


After the show Tanner and I left Gerty behind at the radio station’s parking lot and we headed to his mom’s house so that I could take a shower. Woohoo!! I take ’em where I can get ’em these days. :) Once I was squeaky we headed into downtown Lincoln where we enjoyed an early un-fried-falafel and autumn squash soup with tofu from Maggie’s Vegetarian. It was great!

Un-Fried Falafel from Maggie's in Lincoln, NESquash soup from Maggie's in Lincoln, NE

Maggie’s Vegetarian has been up and running for about twelve years! They have a nice, refined variety of raw and cooked foods using local, organic, and seasonal fruits and veggies. It’s a super cute, tiny place that is well run and staffed by extremely kind folks. I definitely recommend stopping in if you ever find yourself in Lincoln.

Maggie's Vegetarian - Lincoln, NEMaggie's Vegetarian - Lincoln, NE

We had some time before our scheduled lunch so we went to this awesome coffee shop just down the street from Maggie’s. The Mill offers almond-, rice-, and soy-milk as well as agave nectar. It’s really nice inside with plenty of seating and free wifi. We sat for at least an hour, on the outside porch of the coffeehouse, sipping our hot drinks on this cool, sunny morning, talking about school, work, travel, and life. This kid is going places, you guys. Keep an eye and ear out for Tanner O’Dell. He’s gonna be a staaaaah!

Pepe’s Bistro
6220 Havelock Ave
Lincoln, NE 68508

We then headed to Pepe’s where Tanner had arranged a time for us to stop in. The restaurant opened later in the day but because I was already running late for my own time schedule, Pepe kindly opened his doors a bit earlier so that I could experience his awesome mexican cuisine.

Pepe's Veg Bistro in Lincoln, NE

Before I get to the food let’s talk about Pepe for a minute. This guy is so cool! A few years ago Pepe was struggling financially, was living out of his car, and had been waiting tables. He figured a bicycle would help him save money and naturally be better for the environment and his health. He couldn’t afford a bike though so he found various parts around town and built his own, made up of parts from all different brands and styles of bicycles. This small change enable Pepe to save enough money to get an apartment. He loved working on his bike so much that he decided to continue to collect parts and build more bicycles. He decided to give these other handmade bikes away to college kids so they wouldn’t have to lug their books to and from class, and could get around town easier. He’d just leave the bikes outside coffee shops with a “free” sign on them. After some time he met a woman who offered him storage space in an abandoned building. He took her up on the offer and turned that building into a community bike building and share organization. How friggin’ cool is that?! He has since handed off the organization to others but he still shares his love for bicycles and environmental awareness by offering restaurant discounts to those who bring spare bicycle parts into the restaurant. He also gives 10% off to those who ride their bike to the restaurant, instead of driving a car. I’ve never heard of anything like this before and it works SO well with the vegan community. I just LOVE it!!

Repurposed bicycle frame - Pepe's Bistro in Lincoln, NEThere are various bike parts throughout the restaurant, including pieces that have been repurposed into art, napkin holders, and the like.

Aside from being a bicycle buff, Pepe is an all-around inspiring person. It’s clear how much he loves food and cooking by the way he talks about it with so much detail and care. He said that he chose veg cuisine because it was different than what others are doing in Lincoln right now. He’s actually had locals walk out of the restaurant when they find out there is no meat here. But he will often offer them samples, and of course, he has his regulars, like the construction workers who work on the road down the street. They were skeptical at first too but now they visit him nearly everyday for lunch!

Let’s take a look at this drool-worthy food, shall we?!

Tanner and I enjoyed some cucumber lemonade (not pictured) while we waited for our noms. The lemonade was soooo good! Refreshing, light, and thirst quenching. Dang, I could go for some of that right now.

Housemade tortilla chips & gauc - Pepe's Bistro in Lincoln, NE

Here we’ve got some incredible housemade tortilla chips and guacamole. The tortilla chips are incredibly delicious. They’ve got a little kick and are uniquely flavored – truly set apart from other tortilla chips I’ve had before. And the guacamole is fantastic, topped with pieces of whole fruit and dehydrated tomato slices. The salsa was great too.

Tanner had the sweet potato quesadillas and I had the soft tacos. I thought that I was mexican-fooded-out by now but Pepe’s meal revived me. Everything was so fresh and brilliantly seasoned. I’d go back to Lincoln for this meal again, for sure.

Sweet potato quesadillas - Pepe's Bistro in Lincoln, NESoft vegan tacos - - Pepe's Bistro in Lincoln, NE

Are you ready for this dessert? I don’t think you are. I surely wasn’t! Some of you might remember when I posted THIS gem to IG and FB. Here we have an avocado-based cheesecake with habañero-infused agave and blackberry sauce! Ehr.Mehr.Gerd. This desert also happens to be gluten-free. It’s one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had. Seriously. It’s hard to describe other than to say that it was incredibly creamy, booming with flavor, and rich as all get out. And that sauce? How friggin’ innovative is that? Dang. Pepe sure knows what he’s doing.

Avocado cheesecake - Pepe's Bistro in Lincoln, NE

Austin friends, keep an ear out because Pepe was talking of a possible move to the area. He’s also working on a food truck idea. Keep an eye on this restaurant, friends. There are some great things happening here!

Thank you so much to Tanner and Pepe for arranging this awesome meal. What a way to be sent off into no-vegan-mans-land! ;) And Tanner, thanks for being awesome and hooking me up with multiple PR contacts and interviews. So happy that we have connected!!

***********   ***********  LATER THAT DAY ***********   ***********

I just drove for about five hours and it landed me just outside of a tiny town called North Platte in Nebraska. I got up a couple of hours earlier than I usually do so I’m pretty well drained right now even though it’s only 8PM. I considered parking at the local Walmart tonight but honestly, I got the heebie jeebies so I pulled up my handy “Love’s” app, which locates the nearest Love’s gas station/truck stops. These are by far the cleanest and safest-feeling brand of truck stops that I’ve ever encountered. They provide showers for truckers and other people, like me, as well as a couple of fast food eateries, your average gas station general store, and best of all, secure, overnight parking. While their target audience is truckers they also allow others to park overnight as well. There is a designated parking area for the big ol’ trucks/tractor trailers and for cars and vans, like Gerty. Right now I’m camped out in the designated parking area along with a couple of campers and cars.

Some of the drive between Lincoln and here was absolutely beautiful. I’ve never seen rolling hills quite like what they’ve got in Nebraska. I’m guessing the summer season is even more breath taking as I’m sure the grass is more lush and vibrant, but the dusty, light green grass that blanketed mound after mound was spectacularly offset by deep, dark green bushes that were speckled across the landscape, like clumsily shaken sprinkles atop a mound of [non-dairy] ice cream. It was also becoming dusk thereby creating a deep orange glow along the horizon, tapering out into a lighter, creamsicle hugh. Despite the seemingly endless shades of mountainous greens that lined the way, the road ahead remained rather flat and straight.

During the drive I took in the scenery between the swells of tears that filled my eyes every so often. After I listened to a handful of Stuff Your Mother Never Told You podcasts from the How Stuff Works podcast, I rebooted the Audio book of A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. For those of you who know me well, and know what the book is about, you’ll understand why I was rather easily moved by some of the scenarios that played out in my mind as the character and his situations were revealed. I’m not completely ready to go there with all of you yet but suffice it to say the subject and content of A Million Little Pieces hits close to home. Very deeply and personally. I’m almost done listening to chapter five.

It made for an emotionally draining ride, but in a good way. It’s good to just let that stuff out sometimes, ya know? Even if you’re not totally prepared for it. Oh and please don’t worry. History related to this subject has been addressed directly and has had a positive result, for the most part. But I think we all understand how certain emotion is tied to specific life experiences and sometimes bringing those feelings up again makes them regurgitate a bit. It’s a healthy thing. I’m sure of it. :)

Anyway. Sorry. I wasn’t  necessarily looking to go there as I started writing about today. But I guess when most of the day is spent driving there isn’t much else to talk about than what was going on in your head during the ride. I’ll leave you with some stellar quotes that I jotted down while listening to A Million Little Pieces:

Failure is an opportunity.
If you blame others there is no end to the blame.
Control by letting go of control.
Fix your problems by forgetting they’re problems.
Deal with them and the world and yourself with patience and simplicity and compassion.

Goodnight, everyone. I’m off to work on the Columbus, Ohio blog post and look up that whole controversy regarding James Frey’s embellishment of his story. Oh, aaand try to pin down where i’ll be this Saturday so I can tell my mom where to fly into. She’s going to join me for a week on the road. Woohoo! :)

Eat Well.

Travel Often.



  1. I am just so happy to have met you ,and Tanner. Good food has no borders .Tanner is 18,you are 29 I am pushing 50 .However.There we were talking food ,and learning from each other . VIVA el TOMATE !!
    I see you are headed to Ohio . If you get a chance to give these folks a call ,or even visit. Annie ,and Jay are awesome .

    • Hi Pepe,

      Thank you so much for the kind words! It was a pleasure to meet you and you’re completely right – we were sharing in the love of food despite age or where we are in life. Pretty cool! My blog posts are actually a bit all over the places. I was in Ohio three months ago and am still getting caught up on writing about it. I’m currently in Arizona, headed west. Thanks so much for the connections though, if I make it back to Ohio, I’ll keep them in mind. :) Thanks for all you do to help spread the good vegan word. I love your food! :)

  2. Love My nephew Tanner!!

  3. Peace

    You know about all the scandal with the book though right? I read it the week before the scandal, it’s not a book of fact:

    • I do.. I saw the whole Oprah fiasco when it went down. And then looked up more on it after listening to the book. :)

  4. Wondering what to say. This post was very moving and I needed to grab a tissue. Mum :-)

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