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Road Trip for James Beard Runzas & Outsider Art

by Chris Hughes |

6th Floor - Paintings by Dan Miller (Oakland) Furniture by Chris Prinz (Omaha)

Last week, I broke away from the studio for a road trip with my friend Chad Graff to his hometown of McCook, Nebraska. Chad recently opened a space called 6th Floor in the historic Keystone Building. 6th Floor is a beautifully deconstructed environment for community engagement and creative activities. It includes a 360-degree view of downtown McCook and exhibits part of Chad and his wife Joann’s impressive collection of outsider art, along with collected works by Nebraska artists. While spending time at 6th Floor, I had the opportunity to experience a visiting class of 6th graders and watch them interact with the space and artwork. Their curiosity was inspiring.  

6th Floor - McCook Nebraska Outsider ArtChad introduced me to his friend Matt Sehnert, who owns Sehnert’s - a 4th generation German bakery, restaurant, and live music venue down the block from 6th Floor. Matt just received a James Beard Award for his divine ethnic baked goods including:

  • Bieroc – An artisanal Runza offered with cabbage or kraut. I ate several of each during my stay. They are incredible.
  • Stollen – A sweet Christmas bread dating back to 1329. It’s filled with fruit and nuts and admittedly not something I gravitate towards. However, Matt served me a thick slice with the top oven broiled and buttered. I helplessly devoured it.

Matt Sehnert James Beard McCook NE Chris Hughes Artifact Apron

Honored Matt Sehnert wears an ARTIFACT No.445H Apron in twill

Matt Sehnert baking stollen bread James Beard McCook NE Preparing freshly baked stollen bread

There was a lot of eating on this trip. Our last stop before heading back to Omaha was lunch at a time capsule called Mac’s Drive-In. We ordered hand pattied cheeseburgers, fries, onion rings, and vanilla milk shakes from a telephone at our booth. Mac’s opened in 1943 and I found it comforting they have been able to lock in on a staple menu without temptation to change much of anything in 75 years. 

Mac's McCook Nebraska

Mac's Drive-In is charming and delicious

Mac's McCook Nebraska

Chad phones in our order

 

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