CMH Gourmand – Eating in Columbus & Ohio

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My Magnificent Memorable Meal at Ray Ray’s Meat + Three

Posted by CMH Gourmand on September 12, 2021

It was 6 pm on a Wednesday. I had just wrapped up a client meeting at the Downtown Newark Library and I was ready to hit the road west, back to Columbus. (By the way, the library is a beautiful building well suited to the task). A common theme in many support groups is H.A.L.T. = don’t make decisions when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. I was hungry. I am pretty much always angry (in an existential sort of way), I have not been lonely in this century but I was alone, which is a rarity and I was definitely tired. The rays of the sun relentlessly tried to blind me through my sunglasses and visor as I tooled along SR 161 when I recalled that Ray Ray’s Meat + Three was nearby. In fact the exit to it was about 4 seconds away. A quick tap of the breaks and short lived turn signal found me on target to Ray Ray’s.

I plied my way through the door knowing exactly what I wanted to order, a sampler. I then paused a bit while I pondered on my side choice options. Here I decided to go for that bridge too far. The sampler showcases multiple meats so good sense would dictate one or maybe two sides. I opted for three. I did show restraint by getting one dessert instead of two. Then just as I was completing my order, I decided that I would live it up by having my monthly alcohol allotment with a Rockmill Brewing White Ale.

The sampler including the following: Brisket, BBQ Chicken, Sausage, Pork Belly, Pulled Pork, Pickled Onions and Pickles. Three sauces, to use as I see fit were included. As a Kansas City BBQ Society Certified BBQ judge, professional food judge and lifelong eater every single item on this samples was perfect. My sides were macaroni and cheese, corn pudding and a Scotch Egg. Once again, each was excellent, the dishes showcasing the epitome of perfect for what I prefer about these sides. I will expand more on the Scotch Egg as the end of this dispatch.

I sat in silence, at a picnic table by myself literally sucking all of this in. I wanted to enjoy the moment but I also wanted to get home in time to tuck in my son and share a few of the best bites with CMH Spouse. The weather was perfect, on this final day of August it was neither hot nor humid, there was no threat of rain and a light breeze kept me cool and blew most of the insects away and kept them at bay. It was also refreshing not to eat from my kitchen counter/office or out of a bag. I soaked in the peace, the quiet, and the food. In my mind, my sole thought was a recurrent, “this is so fucking good”. I’m not often prone to profanity but the quality of this meal warranted more adjectives while the pleasure centers of my brain blocked my ability to think of anything more eloquent. In this altered state of consciousness, I think I may have started to mouth, then mumble and finally, possibly audibly articulate “this is so FUCKING GOOD!” over and over again, when a figure appeared in my peripheral vision.

It was not figment of my imagination, it was Jamie “Ray Ray” Anderson himself. I waited for him to say “Sir, can you please stop scaring my guests”. Instead, he said “I thought I saw you, I have not seen you in forever, where have you been?”. My stock answer to this question is I got married, I have a six year old son and also, Covid. He asked if this was my first time visiting and I, much to my shame since the place is well established now, said yes. He asked why I did not call ahead for VIP treatment and I shared that this literally was a spur of the moment trip. We talked briefly about the food. However, since my brain was still fogged by pure joy, I could not produce any fan boy assessment. All I could jumble out was, “the chicken is great, the pork belly is great, the brisket is great…..” I was too out of clinical practice to go into to detail about how the brisket was the perfect. Neither too tough nor too tender. Sliced to the optimal thickness. Just enough of a smoke ring to add to both appearance and flavor. I did not tell him that I have not had a better serving of chicken in my recollection, and on and on.

What Jamie and I did speak of was happiness. The joy of being able to spend time with our families. The joy of after a very long journey feeling that this project and his assorted businesses were hitting the mark he wanted them to without taking away from family or lowering the high bar he sets for what is served. We spoke of the dream team that has created at Ray Ray’s Meat + Three including, of course, Chef Bill Glover. Jamie also spoke of the how this business threw in a new variable – being a property owner. Buying / investing in property is a different dynamic as well as a choice/act he is proud of.

Jamie mentioned that he was doing a special tasting menu for Scott Woods, local writer and poet whom we both follow with an interest. Scott was kind enough to give my book an unsolicited shout out a few months back, which was much appreciated. Since Scott and I were unlikely to cross paths again in the near future, I was happy to be able to drop by his table and thank him both for the endorsement and for his contributions to our community.

In short summary, my meal at Ray Ray’s Meat + Three was magnificent! That was no surprise but why is this blog worthy? I have written about my most memorable meals before, most recently in June of 2019, and this ranks within the top seven without hesitation. The Meat + Three concept is a blend of some menu items you have seen on the Ray Ray’s food trailers for years, with specials and extra dishes a full kitchen and meat cutting area can provide in a fusion of best parts of Central Texas BBQ joints (think Lockhart Texas) and classic Nashville Meat and Three eateries.

I had no plan to write about Ray Ray’s Meat + Three because my decision to dine there was spur of the moment. I just hoped to have a good meal. Don’t get me wrong, apathy and Ray Ray’s are words that will never be paired together for me. I have been dying to eat there since it opened in June and I heard about the eatery’s development since shortly after birth of the concept. What made this meal magnificent is the same thing that drives me to write (much less now that in the past), which is the human component. I was not Jamie’s first customer but I was among the first. I might not be the first to write about him, if so, then I was second to write about him and what he set out to do years ago. I have watched that journey and eaten the results along the way. What made this meal magnificent was being able to see the arc of Jamie’s story land where he is today and see him experience joy first hand. In the world of food, Ray Ray’s Meat +Three is the equivalent to shooting a three pointer to win a national championship in the last second of a game. As Jamie departed he noticed I has set aside a few choice bites to take home from my wife. He insisted on making a VIP to go bag for Mrs. Gourmand. It was an honor to have him curate a trophy for me carry into my home. I really lucked out here. Not only was I the hero when I walked through the door but his care package included the two things I wanted to eat but did not order – greens and homemade bread! I asked Jamie, many years ago what his go to item was at Ray Ray’s and he said without hesitation, it was greens, he eats them everyday. So there you go kids. If you eat your vegetables everyday good things may happen.

This is not a story I set out to write. But it is a story I felt compelled to write about as I walked to my car after my meal. As I looked down at the parking space by my car I saw two pennies waiting for me to plunder. Those that know me well know that I love to find loose change and that I will one day die picking up a penny from the street. It was at that moment of everything coming together for me, that I felt the need to turn around a take a photo so I would have an image to go with the story I knew I needed to write.

Ray Ray’s Meat +Three Details

Sidedish: The Scotch Egg, The Bee and Me.

The first photo you see below was me trying to emulate the photographic styling of Mr. Tony Layne – The Man, the Myth and the Legend behind Porketta and the creator of high end food pornography. This bee was fascinated with the Scotch Egg I ordered at Ray Ray’s Meat + Three. I was happy for the bee to focus on this while I focused on the rest of my meal. By the time I circled back to this round orb of cardiac concern, as the last item of my meal, the Bee was gone. I took one bite of the Scotch egg and was instantly beyond full. At this point, I noticed the bee was now prone by the tray. Unmoving but not dead. I believe he overdosed on the sweet sauce of the Scotch Egg. His inability to move and absolute lethargy turned out to be a prelude to how I would feel about 30 minutes later. I understand and respect the bee’s bliss and hope he was able to fly away on his own power by the next day.

Ray Ray’s Meat + Bee

Posted in food | 4 Comments »

Covid Confessions: Confections, Crackers and Corporate Food

Posted by CMH Gourmand on August 22, 2021

One score and 500 days ago a global pandemic brought froth a new plague to this nation.  It could have been an opportunity to unify to fight a common foe, but it quickly devolved into another offshoot of the culture wars.  So here we are today, few of us sadder, very few of us wiser and so many people gone before their time.

I have had this post on the back burner all of 2021.  I was waiting for the right moment to drop this to my 43 fans.  Well, the criteria kept changing.  End of the pandemic….nope. The date Ohio hit herd immunity – negative. Griffin completing a whole week of Kindergarten….not even close.  The day we used up all of our pandemic meat supply…..I just found some sausages buried at the back of the freezer. So today, I have decided that it is the week that CMH Spouse and CMH Griffin have two negative Covid Tests in a row so we can end quarantine a bit sooner.

The year 2020 started out with great promise.  After years of running Columbus Brew Adventures, I was ready to go to new adventures and very much looking forward to spending more time with my family.  Brew Adventures created many opportunities and connected to me to countless wonderful people. It also allowed me to do what I enjoy which is study a new culture, learn it’s mores and traditions and eventually hope to be accepted into yet another tribe, this time the community of craft brewers, distillers and their ilk. Brew Adventures gave me the flexibility during the week to make my son school and other schedules work. The trade off was most weekends away from my wife and son and that much time away had become untenable and less profitable. So as 2020 dawned, I was looking forward to more family time.  I certainly got that.

In mid March I sat alone at the bar of Rockmill Tavern. The first elements of the lockdowns were getting ready to be implemented which canceled guide training for a tour I created, the Brewery District Walking Tour.  I had planned to help start things off right for the season then ride off into the sunset.  That did not happen.  I did decide to pass out old Hoster Brewing bottles as thank you gifts for my veteran guide team.  I figured it could be a month or two before I saw them again (wrong) and I wanted to complete my hand off’s so I could feel I accomplished something for the weekend. I wore a new mask my wife made for me the night before when I headed down to the rendezvous.

I sat at Rockmill’s bar talking to John at the bar. He comped me a my favorite sandwich (to celebrate a hoped for return of tour season) of the era, the Spicy Chicken Sandwich so I bought a beer and tipped more than appropriately.  It would be my last meal inside a restaurant.  (John would go on to be the manager at Rockmill working many a 100 hour week, then Rockmill closed for summer of 2021 but has a planned return in the fall). Between bites, I handed off the bottles – mostly on the sidewalk.  When I finally walked out the door around 2 pm that Saturday – I looked down Front Street to the right and saw no cars or people.  I looked to the left and saw the same.  One thought came to mind.  We are fucked.  This was clearly going to last more than a month.

I drove home along empty highways and looked for more stay in place supplies as I pulled off 315 getting ready for the lockdown after I closed the garage door.

I’m sure I’m adding to the cliches of Covid but it did change the lives of myself and my family. We are now well beyond a year of the strange, surreal days of the beginning of the shutdown. I recall coming home from work and never going back, being excited to find a pack of napkins when all the paper towels were gone, calling my friends when I found disinfectant wipes off the beaten path at Lowes. We partnered with our neighbors to maximize grocery runs and shared supplies. My wife made over a 1000 masks in record time. I watched friends lose their jobs, businesses and outlook on the world.

I also watched people dig in, double down, reinvent themselves or their businesses while keeping calm and carrying on. The moment that made the pandemic the most…real…. to me was when we had to cancel our joint family weekend in the Hocking Hills with our old neighbors.  No O’Betty’s, No Little Fish, No West End Cider House, No Avalanche Pizza, No fun, No (Lake) Hope.

If you want to read the diary of the restaurant that white-knuckled it through the downs, speed bumps, and more downs of the last 500 plus days, check out the Instagram feed of Smokehouse Brewing which provides a daily play by play of what it is like run a restaurant and brewery when all forces are focused against you.

As the contrarian that I am, in 2020 when everyone else was gaining the obligatory Covid ten pounds, I dropped thirty.  I then put on much more than that when restaurants started to reopen in 2021.

There were some unusual and unexpected things that were good for the morale of our family.  The best decision of record in the Covid era was 100% from my wife – a giant inflatable swimming pool which she bought the second the lock down was announced, they were unavailable a few weeks later. It ensured we all had a little exercise and a lot of recreation and it became the only effective way for CMH Child to engage in Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy – there is a lot you can do with Zoom, two parents and a pool with our outstanding team from Bridgeway.

As a family we had worked hard to get Griffin to the right school for him and Covid took that off the table quickly just after the positives of that decision were starting to kick in – online school sessions were an effort in futility for us.  We had worked hard before Covid to limit his screen time for many reasons, but eventually as spring started to wane, we had to relent.  This was a difficult and stressful pill for me to swallow.  And this meant much more exposure to childhood programming which I despise.  I’d rather watch four hours of Fox News than one episode of Ryan’s Playhouse, Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, or the ilk.  One night as I was in the other room in a deep mental fog, I heard some familiar Australian accented phrases in the background.  I wandered into our living room to see a family of cartoon dogs.  I was saved by Bluey which I view as highly as Calvin and Hobbes. This is an absolutely perfect cartoon for children to watch.  The writing is good.  The humor is universal.  I never feel pandered to and the associated merchandise is very limited. The show models functional family behavior without feeling like someone reviewing the script said, “Oh, shit, we forgot to throw in an insincere 10 second value lesson in this episode.”  For me, it reminds me of an earlier era when I was a wayward traveler roaming Australia as often as I could.  There are many episodes of Bluey I have watched at least thirty times and I gladly look forward to watching a hundred more times. For those inclined to “give this show a go” my favorite episodes in order are: 1) Sleepytime, 2) Dunny, 3) Baby Race and 4) Ice Cream.

I listen(ed) to a lot of Pandora while working from home, not uncommonly with a sick child in the next room.  My very unexpected Pandora station which accounts for 90% of my listening time is Rox Radio which is almost exclusively British Female R&B singers of the last last two decades: Rox, Sade, Duffy and the like.  Strange to most, but true.  Have no fear, I still get Metallica and Iron Maiden in sufficient, although occasional, doses.

Now on to food, which is what we are here for.  What is my truest Covid confessions? Skittles.  I had forgotten about Skittles, those round little bursts of fruit flavor.  I’m not sure how the first bag found it’s way into our locked down home.  It could have been a left over from a neuron mapping exercise my wife does with her AP Psychology students but I can assure you over the last 500 days, we have never been a Skittleless home.

Next and this is specifically for me, Hershey Special Dark with Almonds Nuggets. The Special Dark Bar became part of the Hershey’s line up in 1971.  My first exposure to it came among the piles of Halloween candy during my youth.  The Hershey’s miniatures were always a mild disappointment when found among regular sized Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, Mini Almond Joys, Popcorn balls and bullseye candies.  The small, bite sized bars where viewed as the cheap man’s way out of bringing joy to the preteen masses.  However, I always hoped for mini Mr. Goodbars and  during those not so wonder years, the Special Dark Bars.  I would gladly trade 2-3 of the standard Hersey Miniature chocolates or offer an even one on one exchange of a Krackle for a Special Dark with my prepubescent peers. I liked the exotic nature of the Special Dark and I would save them to savor as the last of my Halloween loot. I also figured out these were great dipped into a jar of Skippy peanut butter. In my twenties, when I discovered dark chocolate was not so hard to to come by, the Special Dark became an afterthought. However, during Covid shortages, I found that Kroger was never short of Special Dark Nuggets because most people did not discover what I did in their misspent youth.

I then realized, I had never put any thought into what made Special Dark special. It is not like Hershey has a Regular Dark, Undervalued Dark bar or Cleveland Browns Bar. As it turns out, from 1939 to 1971, the bar we know as Special Dark was called Hershey’s Semi-Sweet bar. Clearly the name change was needed.  The Special Dark Bar has higher percentage (45%) of  cocoa solids, chocolate liquor and cocoa butter than milk chocolate. So it is indeed special.  Add in a sliver of an almond as found in the nuggets and it is practically a health food.  

What I found I missed the most during our restricted interaction with the world of restaurants was Taco Trucks and authentic Mexican Food.  In my last in store shopping run at the beginning of the Pandemic I picked up a discounted bottle of Herdez Guacamole Salsa.  It quickly found itself buried in oblivion in our pantry until one day when I was desperate to eat something remotely different from our standard fare.  I hoped for the best when I dumped the Guacamole Salsa on a pile of hastily made nachos.  I was instantly surprised by the flavor and light, spicy heat of this product.  Then I decided it was worth trying again so using the power of online ordering at Kroger I looked for other Herdez salsas I might like as well.  I tried several and never felt any were a bad decision.  In fact, when I look at the very important quality to price ratio that I apply to all mass produced products, I think Herdez is hard to beat. Tied for first on my Herdez Hierarchy is the Queso Blanco Dip. The price is right.  The heat is just enough without overpowering anything else and in a dire emergency it goes great on potato chips.

Not featured in the photo with this post but a rediscovery nonetheless, Wheat Thins.  We always have a box on hand.  They don’t go stale, they don’t break easily and they are never hard to find at a store. They were not a pre pandemic staple but in our house there are now a few things we always have a spare of: loaf of bread, toilet paper, paper towels, peanut butter, Parmesan cheese and Wheat Thins.

There have been other discoveries along the way.  For pick up meals, we have yet to find anyone that does better than Iacanos Pizza and Cuco’s for ease and speed from order to pick up. Kroger and Giant Eagle curbside services have been a valued asset to our family and something that will persist after the pandemic is really over. The biggest discovery is not mind shattering but important.  I have been embedded with my wife, son and my wife’s dog almost 24/7 for well over a year and I would not trade that for anything.  I don’t want to kill them and they don’t want to kill me (however my wife does watch a lot of Dateline episodes and listens to an insane number of true crime podcasts). I don’t think all families, pods or domestic partnerships feel that way after 500 and counting days embedded together.

What are your Covid discoveries, confections, connections or conundrums you care to share?

Posted in food | 4 Comments »

Over One Million Served

Posted by CMH Gourmand on June 28, 2021

 CMH Gourmand Logo

Today (June 28th, 2021) is the day, page view One Million happened on or about 10 AM EST. It took just short of fifteen years to get here. My first post was August 28th, 2006. A few years ago, I when checked the numbers I thought I had a long shot of hitting 1 million by the fifteenth anniversary if I could get my traffic to trend back up to their heyday. I knew with life, parenthood, etc., that would be a long shot, but Covid gave this blog a shot in readership as people who were very bored started reading more. So here we are two months ahead of a schedule that I figured was a bridge too far.

The one million page views were made by just over 287,000 unique visitors. The best month for traffic was January 2009 which was pretty much where I peaked in life in general to date. The most page views of one post in a single day was 3685 on April 22nd, 2020 for a pizza post I did. No surprise there, people became really interested in pizza during Covid. And the post with the most traffic over time was a post I did about the history of Pizza in Columbus (October 5th, 2008) – it is also the most copied.

There have been 1861 comments, 785 posts and I have 41 uncompleted drafts which are story ideas for rainy days. I do not know who has viewed the most posts the most often but I can tell you Cindy Leland has commented the most. Thank you Cindy!

One million is a nice milestone but in the world of blogs, one million is exciting if you get that in a month or two, not 15 years. In the heyday of Columbus Food Blogs, some may recall Lisa The Waitress, whose blog hit one million views pretty early. I am the last of the old school, old school bloggers who blog for the sake of blogging and while I may be a bit burned out, I will not fade away quite yet. I am not ready to go gently into that good night, or any night for that matter.

Let’s talk about another food entity that has served millions……..billions. McDonalds.

McDonalds used to maintain a running total of how many billions of hamburgers they served the world over and this number would be updated on their signs at regular intervals.

In 1958, the company reported 100 million served. In 1961, it was 500 million. In 1963, it was One Billion served! The year 1993 saw the official number hit 99 billion. In April of 1994. McDonald’s announced they would change the sign to Billions and Billions Served (because they were tired of updating the signs). Please note – McDonalds counts each hamburger patty as a serving so the Big Mac got those billions up faster than the Hamburglar can get to the drive thru window.

Thank you for your viewing

Posted in food | 2 Comments »

Columbus Pizza: A Slice of History -> On Sale TODAY! – (and backstory of writing the book)

Posted by CMH Gourmand on November 9, 2020

Here we go! In December of 1950, the first pizzeria in Columbus opened. Seventy years later – the story of pizza in Columbus is here.

Today is the day. My book, Columbus Pizza: A Slice of History is officially released to the world…… to buy, purchase, gift, re-gift, barter, etc.

If you have already purchased the book, thank you. I’m told Amazon is a bit backed up, but you should get your copy soon.

If you don’t have a book – they should start to appear in large bookstores – like Barnes and Noble this week. You could purchase the book on Amazon. online. If you want more money going to a non mega corporation you can order directly from the publisher History Press / Arcadia Publishing.

I’d also ask you to share this post on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, etc. I won’t make a lot of dough no matter how many books are sold but please consider sharing this link and let’s hope the book sells like Preston’s Burgers. Here are a few reasons why selling books is important to me.

Reason 1: There was a lot of skepticism that pizza in Columbus rates a full book – a large volume of sales would be a very good – “I told you so!”

Reason 2: I have been blogging since 2006. To the best of my knowledge I am the last of the O.G. food bloggers that is still blogging at my original site – which is where you are. I’ve also stayed true the to original concept of a blog – a personal web log. I have not monetized the site. I have not weaponized CMH Gourmand by going for click bait of negative reviews, etc. In my opinion, most importantly this has always been a food first site not a place to build my brand, stroke my ego or try (and surely fail) at any type of cult of personality. If this post gets a lot of exposure I will finally cross the 1 million views mark for this blog – fourteen years and a few months after posting my first post. Blogs are no longer the darling of your spare time in a world where you are tempted by so many images and bright shiny things. Reading beyond the first few sentences seems like a forgotten skill nowadays. Blog traffic in general had nosed dived over the last five years, even for really good blogs that post multiple times per week. etc. It would be nice to wrap up 2020 on a strong note and hit the million view mark.

Reason 3: The most important reason has nothing to do with me. Mom and Pop Pizza shops that serve what I call Columbus Style pizza are an endangered species of business. For many, but unfortunately not all, Covid has increased their business, it a few lucky cases, two times more traffic than normal. However more than a handful of independent pizzerias are looking at their accounts and wondering if they can keep the doors open in 2021.

Independent Pizzerias have stiff competition from chain/macro-pizzerias that have the deep pockets to ride out the Corona Virus. They can bring on more staff, saturate the market with coupons, pay for advertising and offer free delivery. In the book I detail the reasons why many shops may not make it to the third or fourth generation. I truly want people reading this book to make a conscious effort to support or discover their local mom and pop pizza shop.

As with anything I have done in my life I have analyzed, rethought, dissected and otherwise outlined things I might have done better or wish had played out differently in the course of writing this book. I will share some of these musings below.

Interviews: Throughout my writing career, I have never found it a challenge to get someone to talk about their restaurant. When I had my business, I would gladly accept interview requests from anyone knowing that press is free advertising. The one exception to this rule turned out to be pizzeria owners. For many I contacted you would have thought I was this kid from Better Off Dead. Calls – don’t work. E-mails – nope. Dropping in on the business on a slow day and at an off peak time….zilch. Mailing a letter, yes it happened. NO INTERVIEW FOR YOU. I did not get a return to sender but no reply. One person received a free copy of the book Columbus Italians, which comes from the same publisher – to provide a sense that this was a serious endeavor. Negatory. One business that I have a long relationship with never responded to any requests. Another person missed our planned interview three times. A large local pizza enterprise which was contacted several times sent me one low quality image and told me to read the owners book. This was truly a chase.

On the flip side some were more than generous with their time. Rich Folk from Massey’s pizza was always quick to get back to me with questions, images, and etc. He set up an interview with the Pallone brothers, the semi-retired owners of Massey’s which was a blast for us all. One of the things that Jimmy Corrova of TAT has learned from his almost 90 years in the business is hospitality. He could not have been more helpful. His daughters were gracious when we were in the doing a photo shoot during a lunch rush. When all was done I brought my photographer lunch only to find out that Jimmy comped the bill – needless to say our server received a very good tip. The Panzera / Lombardi family, especially Nick Panzera were very helpful and all it cost me was a copy of the 1969 yellow pages listings for hotels in Columbus. The extended Angeletti of Ange’s Pizza were helpful and very supportive cheerleaders for telling the story of pizza in Columbus.

Brock, the general manager of Tommy’s in Dublin was able to connect me with some helpful contacts and information from the Iacono family and long time employees. Jeff Aufdencamp of Mama Mimi’s was my first interview and has continued to be a supporter. Not to give away a surprise but we are working on a project readers may enjoy. Brad Rocco of Bexley Pizza Plus – who I would call the Dean of Pizza in Columbus, was generous with his time and remains a vocal supporter. Tom Iannarino of Terita’s Pizza was the first person I interviewed that I cold called. If you have not had Terita’s Pizza you should try it, it is worth the effort. There are many more to mention and for those that are not listed – thanks.

The two interviews I wanted the most, I was destined not to have. Richie DiPaolo was regarded by many to be THE pizza historian of Columbus. I can never fill his shoes and I wish I would have had the forethought interviewed him for an article I wrote about Columbus Pizza years ago, just before he passed away. The other interview I wished I could have squeezed in was Doral Chenoweth, the Grumpy Gourmet. He was my inspiration and my friend. I followed up on an interview request with him just days before he died, so I missed that deadline. I still miss him.

Leonardo’s Pizza was the first pizzeria to go to up to 9 locations before anyone else. It was a training ground for several pizzerias we enjoy today. I tried, and tried, and tried to get an interview and could not make it happen. I found some information using other sources including auditors records but I did not get the story I wanted. I think that is loss for us all.

The Columbus Metropolitan Library Main Library: Libraries are the arsenals of democracy and we need them now more than ever. In my case, I was one trip shy of completing all of my research for the book. My planned trip to get some more images from 1963 to 1975 was cancelled by Covid, so I had to do without.

Photographs: Plan A was to have the magnificent Jodi Miller shot some of my key photos for the book starting in February of 2020. A new baby in the household and Covid put the kibosh on that. We did get the photograph I wanted the most for this book, the mural explaining the history of the TAT Airline at TAT Ristorante. It was an almost impossible shot, but she got it. She also comped me an older shot she had of pizza at the Italian Festival. That photograph inspired a section of the book I had not planned on. In the end, I had enough photographs to get the book to print from my blog archives, friends and a few favors called in. At one point if I had just a few more high quality color images I could have had a “centerfold” of color photos in the center. That did not happen and that is OK.

There were a photos and images that did not make it into the book due to size, clarity, and etc. There is one photo I really wanted to have in the last chapter but I missed the deadline – I have it posted below. Dante’s during Covid.

Here are a few others I would have liked to have seen in the book.

Terita’s Pizza Man
Jimmy Massey’s Drive In circa 1958 – courtesy Whitehall Historical Society

Go forth and tell your friends and let’s sell a bunch of books to keep Columbus Pizza on the culinary map!

You can buy from the publisher Arcadia Publishing / History Press

I’ll be posting other places where you can buy the book on my Instagram Account @CbusPizzaHistory Vendors include book shops, pizzerias and The Ohio Taproom.

Posted in Best Pizza in Columbus, Columbus style pizza, culinary knowledge, food, restaurants | Tagged: , , | 23 Comments »

A Very Big Night at Ambrose & Eve

Posted by CMH Gourmand on June 12, 2019

I had a very big night at Ambrose and Eve.

I have consumed one to five meals per day for my entire life which is now one half century but only a handful of those meals are memorable. As a point of reference I am listing my other memorable meals in short order. 1998: Wine Dinner at Lost Planet Pizza and Pasta. 2002 Dinner with friends at the Minh Minh in Melbourne. Although we had a reservation and three bottles of BYOB wine at our table, the owner was determined to flip each table every thirty minutes. We assertively declined to do so until we finished our last bottle. Due to our assertive, but polite determination to enjoy our meal and resolute stance that we would not be treated like an assembly line we received a round of applause from the rest of the diners when we departed because we stood our ground. The food was good. The wine was great. The commentary from our server was surreal. 2004 Lunch in Cinque Terre with friends I made in Europe. I vowed to return to the same spot someday and I did for my honeymoon in 2014. 2008 The First Slow Food Shake The Hand That Feeds You Dinner. 2008 During the third or fourth day of a massive power failure in Columbus a feast made with all of the collective food getting ready to spoil gathered and prepared by an elite group of “foodies” in Victorian Village. 2011 My third Hot Dog Palooza Party. 2012 A whole pig pork roast led by Dan Kraus (of Baba’s) in my backyard. The guests included many of the best food truck chefs in the city and it was epic. I now add wonderful dinner at Ambrose and Eve on June 8th 2019 to this list.

A memorable meal can not be created and in this case it was not my goal but I did stack the odds in my favor (although not consciously). My wife and I rarely get out of the house. We do not have the budget or time to do so and our schedules often do not align well but in this case we had free baby sitting and a special occasion to observe. Specifically for me, I had a Saturday off. For the last six years I have worked nearly every Saturday and have only had a handful of Saturdays followed by a Sunday off. And to be honest, as a small business owner, I did not really have the whole Saturday off – but I only worked for an hour and that was close enough.

From an exceedingly long list of places I would like to try out one place stood well above the rest, Ambrose and Eve. It us run by the chef team of Catie Randazzo and Matt Heaggans. Both are excellent chefs. Both are friends and former clients. I had several opportunities to walk though the space during build out but never had an opportunity to dine in for dinner. I knew my wife would enjoy the experience. Because we rarely get an evening for us, I wanted this to be something we would both enjoy. Back in the “old days” we used to explore next places together all of the time but as parents, the few times we do go out we look for Griffin friendly spots (a 3 year old without an off switch) and as a rule, stick to a few tried and true places due to wanting Griffin Friendly places. As an added bonus, the date in question was my birthday and I had vowed for over a year that I would not work the weekend in question. In an attempt to thwart my wife trying to create any surprises, I did not tell her where we were going for dinner until the afternoon of our evening out. I did tell her who was going a few days before and she strongly approved the guest list. Getting ready to head out for dinner I was in an exceptionally good mood. I had finished spending almost four hours with my son at Chuck E. Cheese for quality guy time. I rarely get to spend any time with him on Saturdays so for the two of us to have that block of time together doing something he was excited to do was awesome. And….we did not eat while we were there so I can still say I have never eaten at Chuck E. Cheese. On most Saturdays I feel of guilt for being away from Griffin for most of the day and until recently often all day. I did not have that on my plate on this Saturday.

When I was considering my guest list, I weighed in several factors. First, having a guest list was exciting because typically when we are out on the town we are either with family or have a short window to get back home. For this occasion, we would be with adults and having adult conversations and adult food and with no need to cut food for anyone else and we had no kid gear to pack. I decided that a party of the six would be the perfect number. Not too many people nor too few. It is the perfect size for a restaurant -> parties of eight are harder to place, larger than that is a pain in the ass and I do not want to be a pain in the add to Matt or Catie….they know where I live. Also six is a good number for having good conversation and for exploring a menu in depth without someone getting lost in the crowd.

There is a long list of people I would like to have dinner with, people I have not seen in years or people I might like to know better, but for this day, I wanted my party of six to be a sure thing=. I invited Angelo and Kathy Signorino and Lenny and Joan Kolada. Angelo and Lenny are people I have worked with for nearly every Saturday for the last six years so how could I spend a Saturday without them. Angelo is the head brewer at Barleys and Lenny is the owner of Smokehouse Brewing and Commonhouse Ales. I knew both love to eat as much as I do and we would have plenty to talk about, both are great conversationalists. I know Joan pretty well too and can not think of many people that I would consider to be as kind or thoughtful. I had only met Kathy once or twice but knew her well enough to know she would be an excellent dinner companion. I was pretty sure none of us had eaten at Ambrose and Eve so I made a reservation.

We all approached the meal with the same mindset. We also started with a cocktail – none of us ordering the same thing and as seems to be a default setting, Angelo surmised that ordering a bottle or two of Prosecco was in order. Eventually we got around to ordering and did so with breadth and depth.

We started with:

Garum, honey, pecorino

Local mushrooms, Shagbark grits, red wine

Ritz crackers, cucumber relish

Ritz crackers with the dish (which I could not eat) of course, it was the perfect thing to serve and we all appreciated and celebrated that.

Roasted beets, beet romesco, citrus salad, pistachio dukkah

It was nice to be surrounded by people that all appreciated beets, which so often are unappreciated.

I think we ordered….

Fish sauce caramel, celery root curry

However I am allergic to fish and because I was eating and talking so much, I did not take any notes as is appropriate for an enjoyable dinner.

We also ordered both bread options.

Stratcciatella, housemade jam, olive oil, soft herbs, focaccia

CORNBREAD (I loved this dish more than all others, and that is saying a lot)
Maple, pimento cheese, watercress

It seemed that Chef Matt had an extra order of the cornbread in the kitchen so he sent that out after we inhaled the first. I am fairly certain I ate all of it on my own and that point my memory and judgment may have been suspect.

Also, Chef Matt seemed to notice there were a few items we did not order so he somehow used his spider sense to determine that he should send out an order of ->

Szechuan peppercorn vinaigrette, shiso, pumpkin seed, black togarashi

It was amazing. There was not dish we ate that anyone in our group of six thought was less than excellent but this one seems to be the sleeper hit of the evening. We almost ordered it but hesitated yet Chef Matt knew that we would be remiss not trying this, and he was right. It is a simple dish of razor thin slices of cucumber with the the right amount of vinaigrette drizzled on and pumpkin seeds which perfectly complimented every other flavor on the plate and a modicum of black togarashi to knock it out of the park.

We also ordered EGGPLANT PARMESAN (Oven dried tomatoes, capers, pecorino, thyme, tomato butter sauce) from the dinner menu. Everyone was fairly stuffed at this point but I strongly felt that not ordering the Fried Chicken Supper for Two (I could have been gluttonous by ordering the Four Person Supper) which includes several pieces of perfectly fried chicken, perfect green beans in the tradition of haricots verts, potato salad (which was delicious and borders on having the consistency of smashed potatoes) and the absolute finest biscuits I have had in my life, and I mean that, the best biscuits with no other contenders a close second. I only ate one half of one biscuit at the restaurant but I ate three for lunch two days later with nothing on them and they were still amazingly perfect.

At some point Chef Matt sent out an order of Carolina Hot Chicken (not Nashville, Carolina), that was consumed with a focus.

At this stage of the game all of us were full. I knew some of the chicken was going home (and a few green beans for Griffin who loves all fruits and vegetables) but in the spirit of Shackleton and Mallory I mustered the courage to make the group continue on. I ordered a cherry fry pie with ice cream for dessert and carefully dissected it into small portions so that each person could have a bite. Using his great wisdom, Chef Matt sent out some incredible (and completely vegan) chocolate mousse which we consumed slowly but surely, mostly by force of will.

Between bites, we enjoyed great conversations and good company. It was enjoyable to explore a new place together as a group. We wondered about some of the dishes and discussed what we enjoyed about each. We shared stories of past meals and adventures and in doing so what felt like 45 minutes was nearly four hours. I do not think I have had such an enjoyable evening since my wedding over five years ago.

Days later, it seems all of us are still thinking about and talking about this meal, which means we did it right. It was also enjoyable for me to eat and enjoy the food of Ambrose and Eve created by two people I have a lot of respect for. Catie was at Preston’s (one of their other restaurants that evening) but Matt made time to come out to see us. I was glad to see him enjoying what he was doing and I think he had at least the slightest of smirks seeing and hearing about how much we enjoyed the fruits of his labors in the kitchen. During our meal, Keith and Yanka Smith formerly of the Green Meanie Food Truck stopped in at the bar for a snack so Jamie and I had a chance to catch up with them. The Green Meanie was one of the food trucks that catered our wedding and we had not seen Keith or Yanka in almost four years. I saw a few others that I knew throughout the course of the evening and it was nice to see my circle of people….which has a very far radius these days, making the same decision to try Ambrose and Eve and love it. It was the most social evening I have had in many years. I do not think I could have experienced anything any better – food, service, company, etc., everything was what I would want it to be. It was a perfect night out and I was with the perfect people to share it with, especially my wife.

It will probably be a while before I have a night like this again, but I hope it will be sooner instead of later. Ambrose and Eve is a special space. Years ago, the Galaxy Cafe was the place for my posse, a place we dined at several times per month. We loved the food and became fast friends with the owner and and staff. I felt at home in the Galaxy space(s). I was always part of the place instead of an anonymous satellite. The Galaxy sometimes had aspects of being our private club. Alana’s was a restaurant I enjoyed very much, it was never THE “place” for me like the Galaxy but I loved the approach to food and ingredients that Alana incorporated into her menu. Ambrose and Eve is a rough fusion of the spirits of these two places and in doing so, and because of my personal connection to the Matt and Catie, I believe that Ambrose and Eve is going be my special place for the decades to come.

Thank you to my wife, Lenny, Joan, Angelo, Kathy, Matt and all who made it such a memorable night. For anyone that has seen the movie Big Night, the evening felt very much like the last meal in that film. I had bits of the soundtrack of that movie in my head as I drove home. Or maybe that was the cocktail I had at Antiques on High.

If you care to have a memorable meal, or at least a very good one, get yourself to:
Ambrose & Eve (Brewery District)

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How Fairlife Saved My Life?

Posted by CMH Gourmand on May 4, 2019

Over the last year almost every day in the Gourmand household has felt like running a marathon and then being told at the end, that we had to do the same thing the next day. We moved a few weeks ago and have been without a kitchen for three weeks as of the writing of this post and we are looking at a minimum of two more weeks of washing dishes in the bathtub, eating what will fit on a toaster oven and grilling any day we can. When I was contacted by fairlife with the enticement of getting samples of a new product I replied very quickly – YES. A free meal is a big deal based on our current life circumstances and definitely with my current budget (got any loose change anyone).

The fairlife® nutrition plan™ is now available in Central Ohio. I received two chocolate replacement shakes which are part of this plan. These are intended for people working toward a healthier life style (sure, that is me). The shake base starts with fairlife ultra-filtered milk (which is lactose-free and has 50% more protein and 50% less sugar than regular milk). The milk is then blended with real cocoa. The end result is creamy and very much rich in chocolate flavor. Each 11.5 oz bottle has 30g of protein, 2g of sugar, 730mg of calcium (most of the recommended daily value for a person of my age) plus eight essential vitamins & minerals. All of that adds up to only 150 calories and tastes really good. I tested the chocolate milk CMH Griffin drinks against a sample of this and he gave it a big thumbs up.

As for saving my life, I forgot that I asked them to send me a sample. I came home late one night, starving from not eating all day (it happens) and I found a fairlife box in our refrigerator. When I opened it I found quick access to food and chugged one in three seconds. Free food that tastes good is a big win in our house. While I am not a nutrition plan person, I would gladly give this a try since it is essentially like drinking a good quality chocolate milk. As a long-term bonus for fairlife, I did not know the brand existed until I got the e-mail offer from them. After that I started to notice that it is everywhere, including right next to the milk I buy for Griffin at Kroger every week. Thanks for the freebie fairlife I will try your stuff more often now.

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Del Sroufe: The China Study Family Cookbook

Posted by CMH Gourmand on August 29, 2018

I met Del Sroufe in the mid 1990’s. The first time we crossed paths he was making vegan baked goods in a small bakery tucked away in the back of the Clintonville Community Co-op. I was intrigued by him choosing to make vegan items but I soon as I tried one, I did not care, so I took close to a baker’s dozen away and ate most of them. I’m not always the brightest bulb so at that early moment in my culinary life I equated vegan with fat-free. So when I took the last one to my girlfriend at the time she was flabbergasted that I offered he such as thing not because it was vegan but because she could see the grease from the item saturating the bakers paper it was on as I handed it to her. She was on a diet and I had apparently consumed about 90 or more fat grams during my drive to deliver my treat to her.

Not to be discouraged by something like reality, I kept going back to Del to try more things (although fewer at one time and with more moderation). In doing so we struck up conversations about why he had decided to shift to mostly vegan foods, what got him into baking, etc. In our fourth or fifth conversation, he mentioned that he was starting to work on a book and it was kind of hard. As a fellow writer I encouraged him to keep at it and did not think much of it. That interchange fell off my radar but my connect to Del did not. I took some of his cooking classes and work shops. I sent a lot of people to his new business. I’d run into him more often at the library than anywhere else. Then lo and behold I heard about Forks Over Knifes and that he was connected to and working with the founders. In 2012, he released the Forks Over Knives Cookbook and things really took off for Del. I’m very happy for him.

This year we have been looking at a lot of what we eat and how we might change that to help CMH Griffin with some of his challenges. That prompted me to check out The China Study Family Cookbook. Other than the fact that Del is the author, there are a lot of things I like about this book. Just as I did to Del, I immediately took a liking to this book. The recipes are written and displayed in an easy to use manner. Each listing has color coded icons at the top so you know what types of ingredients (grains, legumes, roots, etc.) you will be using and what dietary audience the dish is intended for. Most recipes include Recipe Tips which give the reader/user suggestions such as things to consider if you want to change-up some of the ingredients in the recipe such as if you want to sub in broccoli for asparagus. Additionally there are also Notes for the Cook which share tidbits related to the techniques used in the dish or general factoids of knowledge to use the ingredients more effectively, etc.

There are also general knowledge areas in the cookbook to make sure you have basic skills or at least a refresher course to help you execute your recipes more effectively. Short overviews are provided in using equipment and tools properly (blenders, non stick cookware, knives, etc.). There are also helpful sections on how to integrate cooking with the kids to make it a family experience and ideas to get different ages to participate. The book as a whole is worth taking a look at and since it is written by someone who cooks for a living and teaches classes on it, the material has already been field tested and is conveyed in an easy to use manner. Good Job Del! Now how about working on some fat-free vegan muffins that taste like that have twelve sticks of butter in them. Tweaking the way you eat does not need to strip out flavor or feel like a chore it can be fun and help you feel better.

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A Sad and Unexpected Demise for CBC Restaurant

Posted by CMH Gourmand on August 2, 2018

CBC Restaurant, Formerly known as Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant closed with little notice on Sunday July 29th. I visited many times over the years and as the operator of the local brewery tour company used the site as a meeting place for well over 50% of our tours. To say the closing is devastating to me is a vast understatement. The restaurant has a long story and I was happy to share that story weekly for the last five years.

The origins of the restaurant go back to 1997. At that time, Columbus Brewing Company which was fighting hard to keep crafting beer in Columbus made the big step of moving to a production space to allow them to crank up more fermenters to keg and bottle more beer for more people. A unique, synergistic partnership was created by attaching a restaurant called Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant to the front part of the building. The restaurant was owned and operated by Cameron Mitchell but per the operating agreement would be called Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant. The restaurant showcased CBC’s beers and hosted special events for the brewery. The opening general manager Doug Griggs teamed up with Mike Campbell, to buy the restaurant from Cameron Mitchell in 2007. The brewery/restaurant relationship continued, even though the ownership of the brewery has changed a few times along the way. While that synergy soured in the final years, the pairing was historically good for both businesses and all of the customers. For many years, it was one of the premiere craft beer destinations in the Midwest and it was not uncommon for people to drive from out of state for a meal and a few growlers of Bodhi to take home.

At the beginning of the summer, I was excited about their plans to change to a new concept called Oxbow on Short in the fall and our company planned to continue to call them our homebase for many of our tours. I looked forward to adding to the the story of the space. After surviving some hard times over the last few years due to extended construction and in some cases reconstruction on Liberty and Short Streets, things were looking up for the whole team. Several factors combined which led to a rapid decision to pull the plug on CBC Restaurant, with a primary reason to be the failing health of owner Doug Griggs. I miss the extedned CBC Restaurant family and I have been trying to help the workers find jobs with our other partners. All in all, the restaurant had a great run of twenty one years and it is sad we did not have more time with them. The space was important to the growth of the craft community in Columbus and is sorely missed.

Special thanks to Jamie, Jamie Lynn, Vince, Jen, Rusty and Kate for so much extra help and attention over the years.

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Cakes & More (a lot more: Empanadas, Chivitos, Fried Chicken…….)

Posted by CMH Gourmand on December 26, 2017

Cakes and More could not have a more cumbersome location. It is sandwiched between a tattoo parlor and a tobacco store in a dingy strip that also features Pita Hut and the cultural hub of the Midwest, Bob’s Bar. It is just north of the very busy Morse Road and High Street intersection. Attempting to turn into the small lot, heading northbound is a non option during any peak traffic times and a leap of faith dependent on the good will of southbound drivers at most other times.

The business has been open since 2011. I have a very vague memory of popping in to look at the counters after a trip to Pita Hut in the late summer of 2011. It was an odd interlude of my life so my memory of that time is hazy at best but I think I walked in, saw few offerings that interested me then walked back out to head home. It as a ten second introduction.

Flash forward to the late summer of 2017. A banner was added to the sign offering the unusual combination of Empanadas and Fried Chicken. As they say in the old timey picture shows….Hello Nurse! That is the kind of combination that would interest me very much. I finally made my first trip to investigate in November with very low expectations. However this time I immediately connected with the place. I saw display counters filled with mouth-watering cakes, cookies and confections. I spied traditional treats from Mexico as well as Central and South America. It surprised me to see a few continental classics including eclairs and Napoleons (aka mille-feuille). As I stood pondering my options, I spied several signs listing out sandwich options, empanada prices and a Friday grilled meat special. Cakes and More definitely fulfills the sweet and savory needs for this Gourmand. My intense study of everything caught the attention of the man at the counter, who happens to be the husband of the owner/baker/pastry chef. He hails from the Dominican Republic, so a few items from his homeland are featured. His wife’s background included roots in Argentina and Uruguay. The items showcased in the cases are a collection of favorites from their collective comfort food classics and travels.

I made three research visits to write this post. On each visit I have consumed empanadas and eclairs. The empanadas are $3 each. I think they are the best I have had in Columbus. Fillings are either chicken of beef. The shell is flavorful and flakey with a great twisted crust. I think two for $5 is a great value and makes a filling meal. Having tried three eclairs on three occasions I can find no flaw in their execution and as long as there is one available it will be a default order on each visit.

I have only tried the Napoleon once (because they are rarely available). It is with the greatest confidence that I state it is the best I have had in my lifetime. As a child, there was a place forgotten to time where we bought Napoleons all the time and I loved them. These are even better and a good value at under $4 for a large piece.

A surprise discovery and the best value, is the Chaja. It is presented here a ball form of a traditional Uruguayan treat. I did not know what to expect when I bit into this ball but I was pleasantly surprised to consume a base that tasted like a fusion of cake and cookie with a dulce de leche center in the middle.

On my first visit I saw a sign for a Friday only Argentine Grill special. Having missed the consumption opportunity on my first two visits I figured the key to this experience is to pre-order the limited number prepared for the day. This special includes a grilled sausage, an expertly grilled cut of steak, a flavor-filled chimichurri sauce with a standard salad as well as a potato, carrot and pea salad. I enjoyed this dish but given the effort it took me to get it, I would be content to trade it for six empanadas.

I tried a small amount of the fried chicken because I was full of empanadas and eclairs. I decided to give the rest to my official fried chicken canary in the coal mine tester/expert. Some readers may be familiar with the Grumpy Old Man who is sometimes “forced” to go on my out of town missions to Southeast Ohio during and after which he complains about all the food I make him eat and the negative effects that high ABV beers have on his constitution and marriage. The Grumpy Old Man just happens to be a self-proclaimed Chicken Whore. His immediate diagnosis was that this was a fine representation of south of the border fried chicken. His endorsement was confirmed by his trip to Cakes and More for more fried chicken a few days later. His Puerto Rican wife found the fried chicken to be acceptable, which is a strong indicator of quality. Few things or people meet her standards so an acceptable opinion is a pretty big deal and a potential get out of jail card for his next offense.

Last but not least, one of the sandwich options is the Chivito. This combines thinly sliced and well grilled beef (churrasco), ham, bacon, cheese, boiled egg, sweet pickled red peppers, Heart of Palm, mayo, lettuce and tomato on fresh bread. If after reading that combination of ingredients your thought was “that sounds great”, you thought right. This sandwich has origins in Uruguay and I have not found it elsewhere in Ohio throughout my many travels.

As for the cakes, I have not tried any yet, but they all look good. As you have read, Cakes and More has much more that cakes. Here you can have your cake and eat more too.

Cakes and More Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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All That and…..a Bag of Chips! (Putting Sandwich Week in the Bag)

Posted by CMH Gourmand on August 13, 2017

Well, that wraps up Sandwich week. As I was doing my sandwich sleuthing a few trends started to surface. One involved what some view as the lowly potato chip. Not so low in my book, in fact, I started to see them as a last hold out of a dying localized food culture. I noticed bags of chips in many varieties at any of the diners and dives I was eating these regional sandwiches at. More often than not the branding was unfamiliar to me. However as I started reading the labels and sleuthing their origins I noticed that these under the radar chips were often made not so far away from the epicenter of these regional sandwiches, if you drove 25 miles in an opposite direction you were just as likely to get a puzzled look asking about a Horseshoe Sandwich as you were about _________ Potato Chips. These two food trends travel back several generations before the ubiquitousness of food programing, the Internet and the homogenization of local and regional food cultures creating an affinity for boring and bland national brands. Every small town had a dairy, a brewery, a bread factory and a potato chip maker. That started to change in the 1980’s with the blitzkrieg like growth of Frito-Lay but even today we see embedded, splinter cells of regional potato chip lines, especially in my home state of Ohio. I grew up with Buckeye Potato chips, which has since crumbled away, but there are still many regional potato chip brands within Ohio and many loyal fans that swear by their chip from the old block. Here are a few examples:

Ballreich’s Potato Chips – Tiffin
Conns Potato Chips – Zanesville
Jones Potato Chip Company – Mansfield
Mike-Sell’s – Dayton
Shearer’s – Canton

Grippos – Cincinnati

Gold N Crisp – Massillion

Why so many potato chip factories in Ohio (2nd in the country for production). Part of that answer is due to our waistlines but the rest is history. Potato chips have been pleasing our palates for the past 150 years.

America’s love affair with this tantalizing treat began in the summer of 1853 when a patron of Moon’s Lake House on Saratoga Lake in New York sent his fried potatoes back complaining they were too thick. Cook George Crum sliced up more potatoes paper-thin and fried them to a crisp. They became a hit with the patrons and became known as “ Saratoga Chips.”

The recipe soon spread to other restaurants along the East Coast, but in 1895, William Tappendon of Cleveland, began making chips in his kitchen and delivering them to neighborhood stores. He later converted a barn to manufacture the snack and is credited as the first potato chip retailer in the country.

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