CMH Gourmand

Culinary Discovery & Misadventures in the Ice Cream Capital of the World (Columbus)

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Archive for the ‘events’ Category

The Challenge of Joseppi’s Mega Meat Challenge

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 24, 2014

Once upon a Thursday dreary, while I waddled bloated and weary,
after many a salty and curious volume of meats galore-
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly in my stomach there was a tapping,
As of something gently, rapping, rapping at my digestive system engorged
Tis too much pizza for two men I muttered, tapping on my laptop, I started to deplore
Quoth the Gourmand “Nevermore.”

Setting the Stage

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I’ve known about the Mega Meat Challenge for about a year. My last attempt at epic eating was a two-time wash out – the Mighty Monolith at Neighbors Deli defeated me twice. I wanted an opportunity for redemption and was waiting for the right opportunity. The Breakfast Grub Guy joined me on the pizza tour I offer with Columbus Brew Adventures and during course of our adventure we started to talk about doing the Mega Meat Challenge. By the end of the tour we committed to team up together to take on the Mega Meat Pizza. I was excited. In fact so excited, I was already pre planning to defeat it a second time with Brian Thornton, from OH! Chips as my wingman for round two. I was not cocky, but I was confident about this challenge. I regularly eat a 14, 15 or 16 inch pizza with minimal effort. Stories that James told assured me that if I could just eat 45% of the pizza, we would be champs.

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The Mega Meat Challenge defined

I met James at the Lincoln Village location of Joseppi’s. We were greeted by the manager Jeff Thompson. He explained that it would take about thirty minutes to prepare our pizza. Jeff shared that on several occasions, he has had people (scoundrels) order the pizza and not show up – considering the time, effort and cash that goes into creating this megalith they now have to make it to order and only after both competitors are in the house.

The pizza is 28 inches in diameter. Unlike other meat lovers pizzas, the ingredients for this pizza are not a scattering of meats but thick layers of Topper pepperoni (made for their Topper pizza – this is the old school, crisp at the edges pepperoni that is harder to find in the pizza biz today), Italian Sausage, ham, ground beef and bacon. It is cut in squares (tavern cut or party cut is the term used in the industry). I counted 8 rows and 58 slices. Jeff was kind enough to bring the pizza out for us to look at periodically as he was putting it together.

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The rules are as follows, the two competitors must:

Sit at the round table near the counter
Stay near the table at all times – they can get up to do a lap around the tap, stretch or get more pop from the soda fountain.
They may not go to the bathroom or leave the building
They have 60 minutes to consume the entire pizza (no knocking meat on the ground or under the table)
Buckets are provided in case one or both lose intestinal integrity (no one has used these to date).
Dipping sauces are provided on request to help slide the slices down the hatch
No one was allowed to sit with us at the table or approach near us while we are in competition mode
The challenge can only attempted Monday to Thursday from 4 to 9 pm.

My mindset at this stage? I was confident but it was clear this was going to be a bit of work. In my notebook, I made this note for the blog post “Two men enter, One pizza leaves.” Jeff shared a few other tidbits about this beast of meats. The Lincoln Village location is the only Joseppi’s currently offering this challenge. Interest waxes and wanes, some weeks 2 or 3 groups will try this challenge and some months not one will try. To date, only one team has succeeded. I have included a photo of them below.

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Winning the challenge offers more than just a boost to self-esteem. The winners get $100 in cash, $150 in Joseppi’s gift cards, two t-shirts and your photo on the wall. That is well worth an hour of my time. The cost if we lost, $50.00. Jeff was a real gentleman about the challenge. He offered a few tips to help with our attempt to consume to heart clogging pie including the suggestion of having containers and ranch and hot dipping sauce nearby to help change-up the relentless taste of pork in our mouths. Jeff did not have to be nice to us, at $50.00 for the pizza he is not making a profit when he serves this monstrosity. He also let the pizza sit in front of us to cool down so that we could eat it at the temperature we desired. Once it was to our liking, we just needed to let him know so he could start the timer. James and I locked eyes after 5 minutes of cool down and gave Jeff the thumbs up.

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Detour
While you wait to hear about the outcome, I am going to digress a bit and share some of what I learned about Joseppi’s. Joseppi’s has been around since 1969 and now has several locations in and near Columbus. The family business is well represented by the third generation of Thompson’s and other family members. Jeff started working in the business the summer of his 12th year. It was his 32nd birthday on the day we came in for the challenge (November 20th). He has cousins and uncles working at many of the locations and is best friend (since he was eight, is the manager for another of the locations). Jeff really committed to the family business after his grandparents (the founders) died in a motorcycle accident, the family as a whole wanted to honor their legacy while making a living. The pizza business has been slow for several years and has just started to bounce back in the past year, so the family really relied on regular customers during the lean times (two were dining near us as they have almost every Thursday for a decade). The shop makes heart-shaped pizzas for Valentines Day and made breast cancer ribbon pizzas for some special customers. If you want to see the 30 inch pizza without committing to eat all of it, you can often see it served during the lunch buffet they offer during the week. I was really impressed by Joseppi’s and the background Jeff shared with me.

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The Meat of the Matter
When James and I began, we started with gusto. I opted to use the corn on the cob approach, pick a row and work my way down right to left. He aimed for a military approach by making a hard drive to the center. We were both happy that the pizza tasted really good. We both observed that it really was a MEGA meat pizza. We started consumption at 7:58 PM. After the first slice the table got really quiet and the atmosphere subdued. I became very focused on my prey, zeroing in on each piece with all of my attention. After the 3rd piece, I decided I needed to make sure I chewed each piece 100 times to ensure I had the room I needed for sweet victory. After the fifth piece, I started to falter in my plan. Originally, I was going to limit my pop consumption to one glass with small sips spaced out at long intervals so as to not overfill with carbonation. But my rate of pizza consumption was slowing as my need for fluids was increasing. At 8:24 PM. I communicated with James for the first time in 20 minutes. He was in the zone as well so I may have startled him. I just said, “I’m getting up.” I rose to do a lap around the table, fill my glass with more Coke and then a returned to my seat. I wrote the following in my notebook: “salt+bacon = salt lick”. At 8:27 PM we had some awkward side talk while I took the photo below.

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I started my next piece and 1/2 way into it I knew I was not going to eat my 45% of the pizza as planned. At the end of that piece, I thought that I would have to throw in the towel. At the end of the thought I glanced at James and could tell by his body language and demeanor that he too was struggling with his will to go on.

After a brief, dejected, conference, we opted to capitulate at 8:38 pm. Shortly after Jeff’s sister (who also works there) came in to the shop, walked by and gave us a look of pity that was painful to behold. She and all present thought we had what it takes to win the Mega Meat Challenge but as you can see from the next photo…..we were not even close. (We only ate two more pieces). #agonyofdefeat

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Reflection, Remorse, Reconstruction and Deconstruction

I don’t like to lose. Like anything in life, if I can’t obtain my goal I obsessively reconstruct the events to determine where I went astray with the intensity of the investigators of the JFK assassination. My first observation and deduction was at the end when I was (shamefully) boxing up our leftovers. Each box had 8 to 10 slices in it. Using a style of pizza dead reckoning, I determined that each of the four boxes weighed 1 1/2 to 2 pounds. Next, I cut one of the pieces in half for a side profile. Take a look below. That is a THICK slice of pizza with a layer of each of the meats. Doing some quick and imprecise math, I estimated this pizza to be about 10 to 12 pounds of meat and dough. In my best food challenge performance to date I consumed 3 pounds of food. Sadly, I think that the Mega Meat Challenge was never meant to be for me. Oddly, I think I could do the challenge if it was cheese only.

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The score: Mega Meat Challenge 1, Gourmand 0

Post Script
The pizza was really good as a cold meal the next day. CMH Tobias was pleased to eat any morsels offered to him. I think if it had been served cold, with the meat and cheese chilled and condensed, I might have consumed more than I did the fateful night but I would have still missed the mark. If you try this – and I think you should, use this tale as an inspiration and to guide your training, but don’t ask me to join you, I might have flashbacks. You can read The Breakfast Grub Guy’s tale of this trial -> HERE.

Joseppi’s Pizza
Lincoln Village location
4764 W Broad St.
Columbus, OH 43228
Tel: (614) 878-7291

Joseppi's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Posted in culinary misadventure, events, pizza, restaurants | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

HELLoween at Double Comfort: October 24th and 25th

Posted by cmh gourmand on October 20, 2014

The kitchen at Double Comfort is heating things up for the Halloween Holiday with Helloween – a tribute and showcase for what they can do with hot, hot heat. I’ll turn it over to them below.

Five courses of progressively hotter food will be served at Double Comfort restaurant, 505 N. High St., Friday and Saturday, October 24 & 25 at 7 p.m. to only those brave enough to submit themselves to the restaurant’s HELL-oween menu. Specially priced meal (exclusive of beverages) is $25, and guests can see Highball festivities from inside the comfort of Double Comfort!

“Think ‘Russian Roullette Meatballs’ and mouths on fire,” said owner Mary Lyski. “There’s no better way to satisfy a taste for hot and do something good at the same time. This event is definitely for all those folks who love hot chili peppers. We hope Columbus is up to the challenge”

Serving Memphis-style fried chicken in a casual sit-down setting, Double Comfort is guided by the mission of “Buy a Meal. Give a Meal™ ”, donating a portion of its proceeds to local food banks. Since opening in July 2014, Double Comfort has donated nearly $1,200 to local food banks in it’s first 90 days of operation. This season’s food pantry partner and proceed recipient is Broad Street Presbyterian Church’s Food Pantry.

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Eight Years of Eating: Still Typing and Typoing Along.

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 28, 2014

CMH Gourmand began eight years ago today. And I’m still at it. Looking back, I’ve amassed a big body of work. Looking a the whole media empire, over 800 posts have spewed out of the Factory: CMH Gourmand 580+, Street Eats Columbus nearing 50, Taco Trucks Columbus 40, WCBE Foodcast 50, Alt Eats 8 and Bricks of Ohio Blog over 120 and a handful (so far) for Columbus Brew Adventures.

Blogging is not what it used to be. There are a lot of choices out there. Some are great, many go dormant and it seems like trend of everyone having their own blog has died off. Unfortunately, the ubiquitous (hobbyist) Mommy blogs and self-absorbed social blogs persist. CMH Gourmand persists as well – readership is still flatlined – neither growing or dropping, so I thank each of you that still keep with it.

I’d like to do a shout out to a couple of blogs that are worth reading and are written by two guys that have been slugging away for a very long time.

Dave, aka the Clintonville Curmudgeon, has explored the science of grilling, bread baking and more at Weber_Cam since 2003. There is an art in his science. Embrace it, you will be assimilated.

While Jared may have nothing better to do, I’m glad he decided to speed what sometimes feels like every spare moment looking for the vegetarian spin on a wide array of food choices in town from fine dining to the finest dives. Jared is prolific, he writes well and he seems to get the least amount of recognition of the food bloggers out there with the exception of Urbanspoon where he is the king of the pack. Jared started in 2007 and in his first year out he wrote 231 posts. That alone was impressive.

If you have not read these two blogs, give then a shot, just make sure to keep reading mine.

cmhfoodcast

Posted in events | 8 Comments »

The Big Pitch: So You Want to Be a Culinary Rock Star?!

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 9, 2014

There is an event called the Big Pitch coming on June 21st and June 28th.

If you have been kicking around the idea of launching a food based business and needed some extra help to get started, this will be well worth your time.

If you don’t have a pitch but would like to sample selections of from some of the city’s up and coming food phenomenons then you should enjoy this as well. Please share this with a friend that has been talking able making the “jump” into the big leagues. And please share this with friends that like to eat.

A link to buy tickets to both events (June 21st and June 28th) is HERE.

Below I have more information on the event from Bob Leighty, the event coordinator.


Calling all Food Entrepreneurs! We need YOU and YOUR FOOD at The Big Pitch at http://www.FoodStartOhio.org.

On June 21st, at Franklin University, we’re going to have 30+ entrepreneurs providing “tastings” of their products. The general public will buy tickets to attend, and each person attending will be able to taste one of each entrepreneur’s products, and then vote for their pick for best restaurant, best mobile food, and best food product. We’re estimating that about 200 members of the public will attend, eat, and vote. We’ll tally up the votes at the end, consider your business plan info, and select the top three finalists in each of the three categories (9 total entrepreneurs) to invite back on the 28th.

On June 28th, at Franklin University, we have a panel of judges for each category (4 to 5 judges per category) and each of the nine finalists will cook for their panel of judges. In addition to cooking, you will make your “big pitch” to the judges for why your product is good and why you should win the cash and mentoring. Each panel will rank their top three entrepreneurs. We’ll announce the results, and then have a party, pizza from Donatos and ice cream from Jeni’s. The intent of the party is to give folks the opportunity to mingle with the judges, other winners, and general public. This should be a great networking opportunity.

These are the prizes in each of the judged categories:

1st place: $1000 plus a year of free mentoring
2nd place: $500 plus 6 months of free mentoring
3rd place: 6 months of free mentoring

For mentoring, we will match two or three mentors with each entrepreneur. Each mentor has committed to at least 1 hour of mentoring per month. I am looking to match mentors with entrepreneurs according to your needs. We have packaging experts, marketing experts, restaurant experts, mobile experts, business plan experts et al. So, if you get mentoring, you will get two or three experts giving you a least an hour of their time each month.

Judges are: http://www.foodstartohio.org/meet-our-judges.html

Mentors are: http://www.foodstartohio.org/meet-our-mentors.html

To register, we need you to fill out the online form from this page: https://www.wsbaohio.org/about/big-pitch.html

We need your info, $25, and a commitment to prepare tastings for 200 folks for the 21st.

Both events will be covered in the Metropreneur, Business First, and other places as well as lots of publicity through social media. And of course, on the 21st, direct in-person exposure to over 200 potential customers.

All questions to: Bob Leighty at: bobleighty41@gmail.com

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FREE: Be a Guest at the Jeni’s Book Launch Party on Friday May 30th

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 23, 2014

Hey Duders. Do you want to take a friend with you to a book signing party with Jeni Britton Bauer on Friday May 30th starting at 7 pm? Not sure? You can read more details -> HERE.

The book is her second and is titled Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts.

If you are still on the fence about wanting to go, watch this VIDEO.

I’d go but next Friday I’ll be in Italy eating gelato. My holiday is your gain.

I have two sets of two tickets so there will be two winners.

To win you must answer one of the following two questions correctly. The first two people to provide correct answers win the tickets. If you win I will e-mail your name to the will call table at the event and I’ll contact you by e-mail to let you know you won.

The contest ends Sunday at 1:00 pm.

Question 1: Jeni worked at two Upper Arlington area businesses as a teenager. Both played a big part in planting the seed of her ice cream dreams. Provide the name of one of the two businesses.

Hint: The businesses are neighbors. Another Hint: The answers are within the body of work in this blog.

Question 2: What was the name of Jeni’s original ice cream business?

Hint: See the other hints.

OK, now is your time to win. Post your answers and your e-mail so I can let you know you won!.

Posted in events, ice cream | 3 Comments »

Rambling House Soda Pop: The Toast of the Town

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 17, 2014

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Rambling House Soda Pop is definitely a family affair. The business is owned and operated by husband and wife John and Jen Lynch. John’s brother works in operation full-time crafting soda and all of the many tasks that are needed for soda making and bar management. John’s dad is involved in the business as well. It was a long rambling road to get to Rambling House. John has operated a nano brewery in a garage at his house for about a decade. He made great craft beer and soda to share with family and friends. Every year John and Jen host a party with beer and soda as the focus of the evening. I was able to attend once and I was instantly enamoured with the beverages.

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The family had planned to open a brewery and eventually secured a building they thought would be a great location to grow a small brewery and taproom. However, even a small brewery requires a large amount of capital and over the course of the last two years many other breweries have tapped into the local market making the scene much more competitive. John has always been dedicated to his dream so he picked up a job at growler shop and started working for a local brewery to expand his knowledge and experience. Last year, the family decided to take a different path on the way to their dream. They decided to focus on craft soda and operating the building as an event space.

Last year, during Comfest, they decided to roll out their sodas and use the festival to get feedback on their different flavors and recipes. The sodas were a hit. Shortly after, they started transforming the space into a production facility, bar and music venue. Rambling House now offers a full service bar with a focus on local spirits and craft beers as well as cocktails which highlight their craft sodas. The space itself has become a destination for bluegrass and folk music with the place popping four to five nights with great local and regional acts. The Lynch’s have also partnered with Paddy Wagon and Tatoheads to provide food on peak days. It is a great venue. (Sidenote: Galaxy Cafe fans of yesteryear will be happy to know that Ricky Barnes plays Bluegrass in the house on occasion – se blurry photo below).

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A few months ago I interviewed John on Foodcast so you can listen and learn more at the link -> HERE.

You can find Rambling House straddling the border between Old North Columbus (known to some as So Hud) and Clintonville at Hudson and Indianola. Since the John and Jen are long time Clintonvillians the space also shows their committment to keeping their business uber-Local. Soda selections include Cola, Root Beer, Sasparilla, Orange and Ginger Ale. The sodas can also be found at Weilands and The Ohio Taproom where they can be purchased in growlers. They drink well on their own or in a cocktail.

The best place to check out the sodas is at Rambling House itself before, during or after a show.

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Rambling House Soda Pop
310 East Hudson Street
SoHud

Posted in beverages, Clintonville, cocktails, events | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Contest Alert: History Boys and Latitude 41 Enter by January 15th

Posted by cmh gourmand on January 8, 2013

Several loose ends will connect here so bear with me – this is more than just a post about a contest….and it is not even my contest.

Let us begin with the link to said contest so you can enter and leave if that is your modus operadi.

Win Tickets to the History Boys (Available Light Theatre) with dinner at Latitude 41

OK – for those of you still reading, here are the loose ends. First several people who are usually dead on about such things say this play is damn good. Second, Available Light Theatre is one of those many little nuggets in the city that make this a great place to live. Third, Matt Slaybaugh one of the folks behind this theater company has been a mover and a shaker behind the scenes for a long time and this is one of his projects which deserves some attention. Fourth, regular listeners of WCBE Foodcast (which would be Dave Scarpetti, my Mom, Bethia’s Mom and who knows who else), know about our ongoing joke in 2011 about mentioning Latitude 41 in “every episode” but then we stopped. There were some reasons for that – our pal Chef Dave Maclennan left the restaurant, there was a major change in restaurant management and while I did not experience service problems at the restaurant, a fair number of people did. The most vocal of those with poor experiences had no credibility in my book since they were well-known by me to be overdramatic, pretentious, elitist food boors but enough people had similar issues on a lower scale to note some concern so I stepped back and watched to see if the ship would right itself. It has and I will write about Latitude 41 sometime soon. So to make a long story short – Latitude 41 is very much worth dining at – especially for free, if you win the contest. And last and very much not least, I think that the citizens of our fair city need to go to this play for one very important reason.

What is that you ask? To show this is not a city of homophobic hate. A recent incident in the short north earned international attention. The employees of Late Night Slice refused to serve a potential customer who was loud and obnoxious about his disdain for a gay couple in line with him. In addition to the business refusing to serve this person – the rest of the people in the line told this person to take his hate elsewhere. Good for them and good for our city. The subject matter of The History Boys might make that hater cringe but it is a good story and I would love to see a packed house to show that the response of Late Night Slice and the patrons nearby was not a fluke.

If you don’t think you will win the contest or if you can’t wait until the 16th to see it, try to get a ticket for this Thursday (January 10th) and grab dinner with OH! Burgers before the show or at intermission.

Posted in events | 1 Comment »

I Want You: To Eat at That Food Pod Oct 27th 5 to 10 pm for a Good Cause

Posted by cmh gourmand on October 24, 2012

There have been a lot of Food Truck events this year. There are still a few more to come. It has been great to see the community embrace this type of business. In fact, some of you may have been over saturated with Food Truck and Cart events this year. If so, I am asking you to dig down deep in your energy reserves and intestinal fortitude for one more.

The boys from That Food Truck are launching That Food Pod, this Saturday, Oct 27th. A Pod is a gathering or two or more mobile vendors. That Food Truck regularly sets up at the corner of Gay Street and Grant Ave. in downtown Columbus. They decided to do a monthly blow out with some of their mobile food friends to create an event for more mobile vendors and to draw more people to this section of the city. (Foodies note: The new Grass Skirt Tiki Bar is just one block away if you want to drop in there before or after That Food Pod).

After this Saturday, That Food Pod will reappear in the spring to continue the tradition of mobile food downtown. While you are pondering how to spend some of your time this Saturday, I want to give you several good reasons to come support this event.

1) The vendors: That Food Truck, Sophie’s Gastrogi (their second to last appearance this year), Blu Olive, OH! Burgers, Crepes a La Carte, Flat Top Pizza and the Good Frank.
2) Highball Halloween will be Saturday night, so on your way home, you can troll high street to see all the outlandish costumes paraded in the Short North
3) Trick or Treating….but in this case, Trick or Trucking. Kids can go from truck to truck to get Halloween treats….or maybe a trick.
4) The fall menu on That Food Truck is amazing – their mole is the perfect flavor for fall and might just cure the common cold.

So all of the above reasons have merit, but there is a bigger cause to the event which is the real reason I want people to come on Saturday night to drain the mobile vendors of every bit of food they have to serve. Each of you will have an opportunity to help Save The Short Bus.

The Short Bus is the affectionate name that the mobile food community has given the Per Zoot Food Truck. Per Zoot was to have been a vendor at the inaugueral That Food Pod but while the fall brought us leaves and chilly weather, it brought Per Zoot a series of mechanical breakdowns. A Food Truck that can’t move, can’t make money, so owner Matt Swint is taking a day job to expand his culinary expertise and feed his family. Matt had to reluctantly drop out of that Food Pod and out of the mobile food community. As soon as word spread of the demise of Per Zoot, within a day, it was decided that That Food Pod would serve as a fund raiser to #SaveTheShortBus (for you twitter heads out there). All tips from all vendors will go to the Short Bus Fund. Other vendors in the community that can not make it to That Food Pod will be donating tips as well. The goal, is to get the Per Zoot truck in operation again so that Matt can work some special events and occasional weekends to rebuild the war chest to keep Per Zoot in the mobile world.

I will defer to Caroline from That Food Truck to elaborate on this collaboration a bit more:

As we were adding trucks to our Food Pod, conversations were sparked on how to help PerZoot. Our hearts have been filled to know that so many were willing to put in their own hard-earned tip money to back a fellow colleague. We thank all of you who see the importance of community and the spirit of giving to help out others in need. After all, that’s what this food truck life is all about. It’s not easy, it’s not glamorous, and many hours of hard work go on behind the scenes to bring you all of your favorite street side cuisine. It tastes so good, cause it’s always done with love.

So come down with empty stomachs and charitable hearts. The Davidson Family Farms will be donating two 20 lb boxes of pork to be raffled off. Each box includes 5 lbs of sausage, 5 lbs of bacon, a 5 lb roast, and 5 lbs of pork chops. You will be able to buy your tickets this coming week for $1.00 to have a chance to win a box-o-pork. Yes, you must be at the truck pod to collect your winnings. Check our facebook page this week for details on the raffle. All proceeds will benefit PerZoot Truck.

So yes, you read that right – a raffle for pork. The Davidson Family Farm raises great grass-fed pigs and $1 chance to get 20 lbs of pork seems like a great deal to me. Your raffle and Tip money will go to help out a local business person and hopefully get Per Zoot back on the street sooner instead of later with his own locally raised pork served and prepared by the master pork loin crafter and chief dishwasher for Per Zoot, Mr. Matt Swint. It seems like a good cause to my biased eyes and I know Matt is a reluctant but deserving steward for tip money and pork proceeds.

Please come out Saturday night and bring as many people as you can.

Thanks

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Reflections on Veggie U. Food Wine Celebration (With Bonus Event Survival Guide)

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 22, 2012

I have been to countless food related events. Many of them are interchangeable – same food, different venue, different cause. The Veggie U Food Wine Celebration has the elements of many of the events I have been to but the execution and focus on the purpose is a cut above the rest. This farm feast observed its tenth annual installment on July 21st (yes, you missed it). I was happy to be invited as a guest. I have wanted to go for the last four years, but each year I was thwarted by other commitments. Since I first learned about what Veggie U does (back in 2008) I have had an opportunity to visit the farm, meet Farmer Lee Jones, stroll throughout the Chef’s Garden, attend an Earth to Table dinner and I even received a Veggie care package in the mail. So my “grounding” in the organization and the mission was only lacking one piece – the “big show” a.k.a. the Food Wine Celebration.

If you are interested in going next year, it will be in July. Connect with the website, sign up for the mailing list and keep informed of what they are doing, you may just find out how to get an early bird special. The event offers food from over fifty of the top restaurants in the country, a chance to mingle and learn from culinary celebrities, demonstrations, wine tastings, raffles and more. All of that is interesting and for a good cause. Great.

All of the above is well and good, but what makes a difference for me is the attention to details. Each guest gets a program which includes a map showing each tasting station, what it has to offer and which restaurant / chef is serving their best. As an added bonus many of the vegetables for the tastes are from the farm. Also included in the program is an agenda, photos of the chefs and bios for the celebrity chefs and presenters. Prior to the event, detailed directions are made available, the place is a bit off the beaten path but an easy drive from Cleveland….a longer, but pleasant drive from Columbus (don’t pass through Crestline on the way). Parking is offered at a nearby business with shuttles taking guests to the farm and running continuously back to the parking lot throughout the night. On the three-minute bus ride, a volunteer briefly explains the purpose of Veggie U. and covers all the details about the event. The volunteers do a great job throughout the evening: they are knowledgeable about the program, the event, they keep trash cans empty and beverage stations full. This year, there was a large mobile bathroom (not a portapotty) with air conditioning. Farmer Lee Jones mingles freely with all of the guests as do all of the culinary dignitaries. The organizers have learned a lot about event planning in ten years and they know how to execute an evening under the stars.

The most important part of the event is that, in a non pushy way, you know what the purpose of Veggie U is and why you are there to support it with your attendance. Reminders continue throughout the night from many sources. Most charity events I go to usually begin with a small note on a piece of paper I am handed as I walk through the door, which I promptly forget and occasionally a long-winded speech at some point in the evening, usually when everyone is ready to do. At Veggie U the purpose is clear and the food is the bonus for showing your support.

So what is it that Veggie U does? It creates a hands on curriculum for fourth grade students, provided free to schools. Through the course of several months, the program teaches healthy nutrition, sustainable agriculture and plant studies which fits into existing requirements and lessons plans for school systems. The kids sow seeds, watch them grow, discuss the planting process and at the end, eat what they grew in salad form. A classroom can receive a kit for $450 and have supplies refilled for the next year for $225. Funds raised at The Food and Wine Celebration as well as the Farm to Table dinners go to cover the costs above. People making donations can direct their contribution to send a kit to a specific school.

Here are some of my tips for this event if you go next year (these can apply to many large events)
1) Get to the site 15 minutes early to avoid the crowds
2) If a member of a group of three of more, direct one member to secure a table as base of operations
3) Take your own notched plate to attach to your wine glass (you can get a sleeve of these at most party stores).
4) Ladies don’t take a purse, it makes maneuvering much easier
5) Heels might look nice but they hurt your feet and make no sense on the grass fields of Veggie U – you will never see the other guests again so don’t worry if people are judging you.
6) Ladies and gentlemen: wear hats. These make you easy to find, become fans quickly when needed and if the hat is expendable….becomes a defacto feedback. Most importantly, hats create additional personal space which is important for outdoor events with lots of people.

At every event I attend, at some point…..well, at many points, my eyes start to roll and my internal need for order and fairness starts to bounce my soul like a bronco rider in a rodeo. If everyone would take a ten minute training session on my proper etiquette for public events which involve more than three people….the world….at least my world, would be a much better place. Please read the public service announcement below and share with the individuals you know are “those people”. You know who they are. The kind of person who stands in a grocery line for 15 minutes and waits until the transaction is complete before starting to remove a check and filling it out. The kind of people who take thirty bulky packages to the fifteen items or less line. The type of people who use their horns too often and never appropriately. Yes, those people. They go to large events as well and they make the rest of us suffer. Directions for the untrained and clueless are below.


1) If you see a line avoid it or go to the end of line after you identify where the end is.
2) While standing in line….think about what you are going to do when you finally get to the table….plan for how you are going to get the food or wine sampled and then beat it, there are people behind you.
3) Don’t stand, talk, eat or stare blankly into the sky when you are at a serving table….there are people behind you, grab and go.
4) Whatever hilarious joke you have for the server or chef at the table…..they have heard it before – don;t slow down the line, there are people behind you.
5) These samples were plated earlier in the day. If you have a food allergy or dietary issue….there is not much the servers can do for you to change a sample that has been planned, plated and prepared many hours before hand. Move on. Let the people behind you eat instead of trying to recreate a wheel which is trying to roll.
6) If there is not a table for everyone, eat it….and beat it.
7) Identify where the trash cans are, keep tabs on them and use them.
8) Keep your arms, hands, food and drinks close to your chest so as to not spill substances on others.
9) Wearing white or your best outfit to an outside food event is asking for trouble….
10) Approach a sampling table from the right, leave to the left and don’t dawdle. There are people behind you.
11) When moving from point A to point B….keep moving, don’t stop unless you have mounted breaklights and turn signals of your rear end.
12) Don’t block aisles, areas of major or minor traffic patterns….and don’t violate others personal spaces
13) Say excuse me or pardon me when passing others
14) Use your inside voices
15) Bathrooms are for those that need to use them for their intended purpose….these are not for extended cell phone conversations, having philosophical discussions or dawdling around checking your hair…..there are people behind you who need to pee or have problems holding their alcohol. Dump it and hump it.
16) Recycle if you can and if you drop something, pick it up.
17) Say thank you to someone working the event, they rarely get to enjoy what they are doing or eat…until the very end of everything and by then, they just want to go home.

Posted in CLEGourmand, events, Ohio, Road Trip | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Yubba, Dubba, Veggie U!: Food and Wine Celebration this Saturday

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 18, 2012

I have written about Chef’s Garden and Veggie U a few times.  Farmer Jones and company grow great things and Veggie U is their outlet to grow young minds with food education.  I wanted attend the Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration for the last several years, but each summer as the date draws near, something thwarts my plans to go – such as being sold out.  This year is the tenth anniversary for the event so the organizers are going all out.  And…. some tickets are still available.  

I was given a ticket to drive up as a guest (Thanks Guys), if anyone would like to hitch a ride with me (and you have bought a ticket) I may be able to give you a ride, let me know.  

For more details on the event, click here  <-there

Anyone driving up – watch out for Crestline, Ohio – it is a speedtrap.  

I will be live tweeting from the event with some play by play and photos.  I will abide by my first rule of social media “don’t drink and tweet”.

I doubt they have available rooms, but if they do for this event or any other Veggie U. trip, I suggest Captain Montague’s Bed and Breakfast in Huron.  I finally retrieved my photos of the place and will be posting about this great Foodcoast base of operations soon.  

 

 

Posted in events, Road Trip | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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