Gregg and Ashley Young aim to bring innovation and joy to all they do, and their latest venture through Lucky Eleven Hospitality Group is no exception. The passionate pair partnered with accomplished Chef Joel Hassanali to bring their modern kitchen and bar concept, Salted Edge, to life.
Hassanali’s affinity for cooking and hospitality started with his after-school perch on a wee stool in the kitchen of his parents’ Trinidad restaurant. The fervor has not faded since his days watching them harvest vegetables from the garden and transform them into warm plates of goodness. “I love putting a smile on people’s faces with cooking, it’s an art where you can create something really beautiful,” he said.
Throughout his career, Hassanali has opened 25 restaurants, and his newest venture is just as challenging and satisfying as those that came before. According to the seasoned chef, passion is what keeps him going—he loves pushing the limits and stepping outside his comfort zone. “It’s what I love to do. I love to tell my story with food and to develop young chefs who are passionate and want to do it—they are like a blank canvas.”
Inspired by his myriad travels, Hassanali is particularly fond of melding robust, intense flavors with classical techniques when developing new recipes. He described one of his recent favorites as, “A scallop dish with carrot and squash puree, crispy pork belly, and pea dust finished with maple butter-seared Brussels sprouts.” The scallops are seasoned with his signature spice blend, a base of coconut palm sugar combined with 12 spices, available for retail sale at the restaurant.
Hassanali is proud to be a part of an ambitious project like Salted Edge. “I’ve been doing this for over 26 years, having the pleasure of traveling and working with amazing chefs, and am grateful now to be chef partner of an incredible restaurant.” He’s learned many things through the years, but the biggest lesson is the importance of sharing knowledge and helping others learn and grow. The management team at Salted Edge fosters a welcoming culture in which everyone is comfortable being themselves while striving to meet high expectations and standards. Hassanali further recounted, “There is a sign in my kitchen that lists the three F’s: Fun, Firm, Fair.”
The upscale casual contemporary menu is brimming with dishes featuring high-quality, locally sourced products. Beef hails from purveyors Niman Ranch and 1855 Black Angus Beef; produce from Nelson Produce Farm and Leafy Greens; and fungi from Flavor Country Farms.
Owners Gregg and Ashley Youngs’ passion for exceptional wine is evident in the distinctive wine list. The offerings at Salted Edge include over 125 varieties, including quirky wines by the glass, celebratory bottles, and a bespoke blend from California.
The cocktail menu is an expression of the jovial team vibe—they reveled in brainstorming clever names for the tasty craft concoctions. According to General Manager Mara Taylor-Mejstrik, “This list is fun, innovative, fits the location, and includes mocktail options.”
Overlooking West Shores Lake just west of 243rd and Dodge, the expansive space is modern and bright, bringing the outside in through the outdoor bar and patio, including boat-up options for those wanting a bite after a day on the lake. Venturing inside, guests will find a raw bar and a brick pizza oven. “We want guests to feel welcome, enjoy great food, excellent service, and leave with a warm feeling as if they’ve dined in someone’s home,” said Hassanali.
Lucky Eleven is involved in a variety of charitable endeavors, including Angels Among Us, Restored Wings (Rejuvenating Women), and the Omaha Home for Boys. According to Hassanali, the chefs will don different colored bandanas in the open kitchen, indicating the receiving organization of the month.
The team also provides catering for the adjacent event venue, and harbors a few “secret” menu items such as a 32-day butter-aged New York Strip and a spectacular salted dome tomahawk dinner for two, executed tableside.
Private dining spaces and singular experiences abound, including a chef’s table for eight guests, featuring seven courses, omakase style. The chef’s table mirrors Hassanali’s experiences as a private chef, interacting with diners and cooking according to the vibe of the group and the chef’s whims. Hassanali shared, “One thing I wanted was the open kitchen where guests can see, feel, and smell what’s going on, using all senses and that warm welcoming feeling where you visualize the orchestra of chef doing his thing.”
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