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Indian Hill amateur chef, college student salvages summer with pop-up restaurant at home

Posted at 4:22 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 19:52:54-04

INDIAN HILL, Ohio — Michael Weirich planned to spend this summer working as a laboratory research assistant in Nashville.

"I, unfortunately, lost my research position at Vanderbilt University," said Weirich, a 19-year-old Indian Hill resident who is studying chemical engineering at the college.

When he lost that opportunity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Weirich found himself back home with his parents and younger brother.

Weirich said it was his mother who suggested he take his college studies and a longtime love of cooking and turn the lemon-of-a-summer life handed him into lemonade.

And that is how the pop-up dining experience Restaurant Confluence was born.

"I won a local chopped competition at the Cookswear store that is now closed in Montgomery. I think that was in my eighth-grade year," Weirich said of his passion for fixing meals for family and friends over the years. "Not necessarily the most obvious application to cooking, but I find chemistry very useful in the kitchen and the analytic part is also useful in business."

After his mother's suggestion, Weirich said he worked with the father of a friend to set up a limited liability corporation, learn what insurance was necessary to run a pop-up concept and also how to model his business idea.

"Having a lot of free time at home and noticing a lot of people who would have been celebrating birthdays or other special events, including myself over the COVID period, had really no option to go out for a nice dinner," Weirich said. "I figured it would be a nice market to open my own restaurant where there would be a really small number of people, you know separated apart, no one before or after you."

Weirich has since been planning the dishes he will serve to guests at his parents' dining room table or on their back patio. Those dishes include scallops, beets, snapper and other small plates.

"The last two days we've had our kind of soft opening for some friends we were running through the service with, doing pretty much all of the dishes, except for the scallop dish," Weirich said on Monday.

Starting this Saturday, Weirich and his small staff will start hosting seven-to-10-course tastings for those who make reservations through his pop-up's website, confluence.restaurant.

Weirich said dining is limited to groups of 10 people or less and will continue each Saturday through Aug. 15.