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Food Fort & FlavorSuites Introduce Culinary Basics 101

20 Feb

There are few simple pleasures better than friends gathering in a kitchen, sharing laughter and delicious food. 

This winter, the Food Fort opened its kitchen to India Latham of culinary operation FlavorSuites for a dynamic Culinary Basics course, and that’s exactly what happened.  India invited members of her women’s ministry to spend an afternoon in the Fort’s commercial kitchen, and taught them how to translate their new skills to their home kitchens. 

Fun in the Kitchen

FlavorSuites specializes in culinary entertainment, seasonal specialty baked foods, consulting and education.  Everywhere she goes, India carries that love of culinary education with her. “I’m always being approached on how to do so many things in the kitchen,” India explained.  “I thought it was important to give [our women’s ministry] a proper foundation to start with.”  The course covered subjects like safety and sanitation, kitchen appliances, and budget-friendly, healthy meal preparation. 

India ended the course by inviting all the women to prepare breakfast egg muffins and fresh smoothies.  “Being able to host at the Food Fort’s commercial kitchen, we had so much space and equipment available. The environment was conducive to learning and educating. The ladies learned a lot!”

Fun For All Ages

We at the Food Fort were delighted to host FlavorSuites, whose worldwide perspective allows them to turn classic dishes into globally-inspired cuisine. FlavorSuites is available for catering, as well as customizable consulting and culinary courses.  Learn more at www.FlavorSuites.com.

Interested in hosting your own culinary event at the Food Fort? Contact us today for a tour of our fully-licensed, state of the art commercial kitchens!  

Food (Truck) Fight at CSCC June 25th 10 am to 6 pm – Eat and Fight Hunger at the Same Time!

14 Jun

Food Fight June 25th

The Mid-Ohio Foodbank and the Central Ohio Restaurant Association (CORA) have partnered for several years to work together to fight hunger. The concept is simple. The restaurants commit to donate 5% of sales to the Foodbank on a set day, you eat and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank gets more funds to do good things in our community. This is called Food Fight!

This year working with CORA and Columbus State Community College (CSCC) several of our local food trucks are getting on board to join the cause with a special preliminary round of the fight on June 25th.

CSCC will host several food trucks on their campus from 10 am to 6 pm to feed all diners – students, staff, downtown workers and residents as well as anyone that would like to drop by. The trucks will be set up at the intersection of Cleveland Ave. and Mt Vernon Ave.

Please share this with anyone you would know that is interested.

To learn more:
Mid-Ohio Foodbank

Thank to the many in the community that have partnered to make this event possible including:

CORA, CSCC, 614 Magazine, CD102.5, NBC4 and Yelp as well as our food truck community.

Member Spotlight: J Pops

6 Jun

Steve White is the owner of J Pops a gourmet ice pop company which uses the Food Fort as a commissary for his food cart and kitchen space for production. We have been working with him since late 2012.

jpops

What inspired you to start J Pops?

I was living in Atlanta and began to see a trend of gourmet ice pops. I thought it was a great idea and started to play around in the kitchen creating different flavors. But it wasn’t until the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that I decided to make them for real. I had lived in Japan for over 2 years as an English teacher and I fell in love with the country and it’s culture. I felt so hopeless and wanted to do something to help out. I decided to sell the pops to my co-workers and sent all the money raised to the American Red Cross for Japan Relief. Then after much encouragement from my boss I decided I would go into business officially once I moved back to Columbus to be closer to my family.

What inspires your flavor creations?

I get inspired from a variety of things. Sometimes it is as simple as walking around the farmers market or supermarket and seeing what is in season. I then think about what I could pair with that fruit or herb. I also get suggestions from friends.

What is your biggest flavor fail so far?

Well, there have been several. Sometimes it takes 5 or 6 attempts before I get it right. But, the biggest fail I can recall was Caramel Apple. The first attempt was awful! There was also cereal milk. That one didn’t even make it to my taste testers.

Where can people find your pops and your cart?

J-POPS are sold at The Hills Market Downtown and at Celebrate Local in Easton. You can find my cart at Pearl Market on Tuesday and Friday. Easton Farmers Market on Thursday and Worthington Farmers Market on selected Saturdays. Sometimes I pop up in Bexley by Capital University on selected Wednesdays. I will also be at various festivals this summer including Pride Fest and ComFest. The best way to find out where I am going to be is to follow me on Twitter and like me on Facebook: myjpops

What did you do to prepare for starting your business?

A lot of research. It was a challenge since I initially I did not have a mentor. I enrolled in classes at the SBDC here in Columbus and was very lucky to get Ariana, my business advisor. She was such a big help in being so supportive and helping guide me along the way to what I needed to do. I honestly had no clue about all that it was going to take to get the business up and running. Between all the licenses and all the regulations it can be very overwhelming. Bob Kramer from the Food Fort helped me with questions about licenses and permits. Everyday is still a learning experience.

What was the biggest obstacle you needed to overcome to get started?

There were so many! It was a challenge finding the cart and molds that I wanted and that took a long time. Besides finding the core items the other obstacle was finding a mentor.

Any advice for new food business owners?

Do your homework. Take advantage of any free resources you can find. Sometimes the best ones are the people near you . Realize that it will take time to get things up and going. I try to look at everything as challenges and not obstacles. There were so many times I wanted to just give up because I thought it would never happen because as soon as I took one foot forward, I would get pushed back two more. It is a lot of work so you really have to want to do it and believe in your product.

Food Truck Event at The Naz May 26th 11 am to 4 pm

15 May

Naz Food Truck Event May 26th

Join some of your favorite Food Fort mobile vendors and others for a break from the grill Memorial Day weekend. In addition to food, there will be live music, childrens activities, corn hole, indoor seating and access to the gigantic inside kid’s play area at “The Naz” which puts some amusement parks to shame.

Food Trucks confirmed so far include:
Burrito Bus
Dos Hermanos
Cheesy Truck
Pitabilities
Pizza Cottage
OH! Burgers
with a few more to confirm.

This is the first event food truck event in Grove City. There is plemty of free parking and room to eat inside or outside.

For additional details. See our listing on Facebook as well as the website listing on the Grove City Church of the Nazarre (The hosts of the event) website

Each truck will be making a donation to Refuge for Women, an area charity.

Local Bake Shop Mixes Day Job with Night Job for a Fun Event

9 May

We have mentioned Kelly Provost before. She started as Treats Bakery in the Food Fort Kitchens and then rebranded to Local Bake Shop. She spends some evenings and weekends here creating her inspired baked treats for catered events, farmers markets and more. During the day, she lives in the world of IT. In this episode of when World Collide, Kelly decided to use the Fort Fort as an event space for a team building event for her co-workers from her IT department. Many people have been using our space as a small event space and having fun mixing business with pleasure. It sounds like Kelly and company enjoyed their time in the kitchen.

This is the “field report” from Kelly.

The IT BA and PM team had a team building event. We took over commercial kitchen space at the Food Fort to organize into teams and bake four different, multi-step items within a set period of time. As a twist, each team had varying levels of “requirements” with their recipes. We learned some things about baking, about how we work together, about different kinds of requirements and decision-making, and we enjoyed some delicious treats!

(There were caveman sugar cookies, compliments of Blind Mice Bakery in the Lavender Lounge this morning.) 

Team Three Blind Mice (AKA Blind Mice Bakery) and their Koulourakia/Halal/Caveman Sugar Cookies

Retreat 1

Team Tart (Sweet, Savory, and Pop) with sweet blueberry tarts and savory cheese and tomato tarts

Retreat 2

The Pipers and their cream cheese filled chocolate cupcakes

Retreat 3

Team Puff and their Cream Puffs

retreat 4

Enjoying treats!

Retreat 6

We had great time!!!

Pantry Panic Training: Eating Healthy on a Shoestring Budget

2 May

Last friday, 22 community development workers from Homeport came to the Food Fort for the second of two training sessions led by the director of nutrition at MidOhio Foodbank. She developed the Pantry Panic curriculum to educate people on how to design a meal plan that fits MyPlate‘s recommendations while still keeping costs low. She also touches on table-setting, sourcing food from a food-pantry, and how to shop efficiently by planning ahead. The curriculum is meant to be broken up into four sessions, so we walked through the first two classes on the first training day, and last friday we worked on the last two classes.

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After the training session, the community development workers at Homeport will be teaching the curriculum in the community. Homeport is a non-profit organization that offers safe and affordable housing in various neighborhoods of Columbus. In addition, they lead community groups for a wide range of age groups that focus on increasing financial literacy and development of various life skills. They plan to incorporate the Pantry Panic curriculum into some of their community groups now that they’ve gone through the training to teach the class.

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The training class was highly successful in terms of how much we all learned, but it was also a lot of fun! On the last day of Pantry Panic, participants receive a mystery box with a variety of produce, either meat or beans for their protein, and rice or pasta. They are then to create a casserole that incorporates all of their ingredients and using a very basic recipe. This recipe as well as the others in the curriculum focus on making a meal based on what’s in the pantry rather than relying on extra trips to the grocery store to fill in the gaps.

Pantry Panic 1

The flurry of activity in the kitchen resulted in a wide variety of casseroles. For example, one group made a vegan sweet-and-sour dish, while another incorporated a white sauce they made earlier that day for an Italian fair. At the end of the training session, all the groups had a chance to try out any or all of the casseroles.

Pantry Panic 2

We look forward to assisting them in any way we can so that Pantry Panic can reach their communities. Our partners at MidOhio Foodbank and Homeport were wonderful to work with–we can’t thank them enough for their hard work they do in Columbus, Ohio.

(Note: This post was by Lydia Whittington, whose last day at Food Fort was May 3rd, Thank you Lydia for your hard work!).

The Conclusion of the “Pig Mass Experiment”

20 Mar

In December, we posted about our relationship with the Davidson Family Farm and our decision to save food scraps for their pigs. Throughout winter, we able to fill one container (or more) to the rim with food waste each week. Collectively, we kept 50 to 150 lbs of food waste out of our dumpster and put it into the bellies of twelve piglets the Davidson’s started feeding in the fall. Each container equalled one or more days of meals for the pigs.

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Today Wendy from the farm came to make her last pick up for the season and it was our heaviest load to date. It was filled with beans, tortillas, bread, apple cores, vegetable cuttings, donuts and more. Wendy shared that the pigs know when a barrel comes back from the Food Fort. The pigs get excited because they know it will soon be time to eat like gourmets for the day. We appreciated the opportunity to put our waste to good use for the winter. We will look for other sustainable uses for our leftovers for the rest of the year.

It Takes a Village to Serve an OH! Burger

5 Mar

We have a collaborative community at the Food Fort. We see it everyday as members share ideas, pass on recipe hints and brainstorm with each other on the next special or business concept. This past week, we saw true team spirit shine through.

Brian Thornton from OH! Burgers had the transmission die on his food truck. It would take $2500 and three or more days to fix the problem. In the meantime, the key to have a profitable mobile food business is to have the ability to…..move. We thought of some different solutions: attaching a horse or mule team to the truck, borrowing another truck or sitting on the curb despondent about three days of lost business.

In a short time better plans came together.

Here is the recipe for getting Brian on the road.

Brian borrowed the Kenny’s Meat Wagon cart from Ken Donnelly and was loaned an SUV with a towing hitch by Alex from Tatoheads.

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For Friday, Laura Lee of Ajumama opted not to take the day off and instead partnered with Brian to do a pop-up combo on her truck. The two partnered with special items from the Ajumama menu and select items from OH! Burgers, so the two could work together to have Aju-Burgers / OH!Jumama set up for lunch at an OSU medical facility. (Please note the infamous, MikeGuyver, in the background of the shot with a thumbs up).

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Friday night, Brian picked up his truck at 5:00 pm and raced to the Instaband Battle of Bands Competition with his repaired OH! Burgers truck but had a back up plan of borrowing the Kenny’s Meat Wagon Cart or having another member sub for him. Kenny worked the truck with Brian to complete the circle.

Upcoming Cooking Class Series at the Food Fort

25 Feb

Bleu and Fig introduces:

Cooking Classes with Sass

at the Fort.

Cool original ideas by local female chefs.
Fun night out with good food and good friends.
Bring your own wine.

March 12:

Featuring:

Treats Logo 1Dinner Rescue Crew

Chef Kelly of Treats 4 Everyone (now known as Local Bake Shop) and Chef Melissa of Dinner Rescue Crew

Menu:
Chicken Veloute (you’ll never use the stuff in the can again)
15 Minute Chicken a la King
Healthy Biscuits, yes…healthy biscuits
Seasonal Fruit Cobbler

Food Fort All-Stars at Pecha Kucha February 21st

10 Feb

Pecha whata? Pecha Kucha is a world wide organization that has been expanding the minds and interests of the citizens of Columbus for over five years. Topics range from what is cool about our city, to eating local, going green or anything a person has a passion for and can place key concepts on twenty slides.

The Food Fort has worked in partnership with Pecha Kucha since 2011 helping to source food for the event. This time around, we are taking some of our kitchen members inside the Gateway Film Center to add great food to beer and concesssions at the theater. The menu will include:

Bleu & Fig Catering:
Brown Sugar Thick Cut Candied Bacon
Red Pepper Flake Kale Chips

Destination Donuts:
Maple Sausage
Blackberry Sage
Lemon Thyme
Thai Peanut

Dinner Rescue Crew:
Mini Mexican Calzones with Taco Sauce (vegetarian)

Brown Sugar Bologna, Kettle Chip and Mustard Aioli Sandwich

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with Blue Cheese Slaw

Treats 4 Everyone
Baklava
•Pecan/walnut
•Pistachio
Cupcakes
•Two-hearted Ale with Vanilla Buttercream
•Young’s Double Chocolate Stout with Chocolate Buttercream
•Gluten-free Lime with Cardamom Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Cookie Sandwiches
•Loaded Chocolate with German Chocolate Filling
•Snickerdoodle with Cinnamon Buttercream
•Gluten-free Pistachio with Rosewater Buttercream

To learn more about Pecha Kucha, check out their Facebook page. Rumor has it that attendees will be able to see a movie for free after Pecha Kucha concludes. The only condunrum with the event is trying to figure out how to pronounce it: Pecha-Ah Kuch-Ah? Pee Cha Ka Cha? Peach_A Kucha……, it is safest just to say PK.

You can get a sense of PK February 2012 from our Facebook Album.

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