Jacob Demars (Open Circuit Dining)


You know I love anything to do with popup dinners (even though the term "popup" always feel too kitschy) and when I discovered Open Circuit Dining, I had to learn more.

Tell me about your culinary journey and what brought you to good, old Des Moines.

I’ve worked in a lot of different types of restaurants around the country, and my training came from picking up techniques or small habits from all these different chefs I worked with. I ended up in Des Moines because my wife grew up here, and after five years in Chicago, we wanted to make a change.

Your menus evokes a sense of awe and wonder - not unlike Grant Achatz. I'm curious if you intentionally set out to awe your guests or if there's a different approach. 

I always aim to try and give the guest something they haven’t eaten or seen before. We can go out any day of the week and get food at a restaurant but when a guest leaves the table inspired or completely satisfied that’s what we look to do with our tasting menus.

I know the restaurant you worked at previously closed rather suddenly. Has it been difficult to get over the initial disappoint? Has it inspired/challenged you? 

It certainly wasn’t welcoming news. I took a month to decide what I was going to do and how to move forward. It brought me back to Open Circuit Dining which I ran for 2 years in Chicago.  I wanted to make the pop up dinners even stronger. I’ve also become more motivated to take baby steps towards owning my own restaurant.

What drew you to the popup dinner concept? 

The chef at the first restaurant I worked at in Chicago had a very successful pop up. Eventually I just asked myself, why I can’t do that? I started doing small private dinners, and eventually we moved to 12-15 courses dinners with twelve guests. 

What's the vision for these events? If someone were to attend and describe it to their friends...what would you hope they say? 

My vision for the dinners is that our menu in some way connects with our guests. Maybe through a story, an ingredient, or even meeting someone new at a communal table.  We want our guests to walk away amazed by how great of a night they had – great food, fun presentation, and good people.