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Columbus Knife Fight Invades The Food Fort

28 Jul challah wins!

Columbus Knife Fight Club had their inaugural face-off at The Food Fort over the weekend. Challah! Food Truck challenged Swoop! Food Truck to a cook off that required each chef to use three key ingredients: blueberries, dried ancho chiles, and rabbit. Challah Food Truck won the competition, taking home the coveted WWF belt as well as culinary bragging rights.

 

The Food Fort’s First Ever Food Truck Festival Fast Arriving

25 Jul

QFM FOOd Truc LogoOn Saturday, August 9, The Food Fort, in partnership with premiere Columbus classic rock radio station QFM 96, will hold its first ever Food Truck Festival.

The Food Fort, a cutting-edge, mobile food-based business incubator, is not your typical commissary. By providing their clients access to specialized training in legal, marketing and sales assistance, as well as a fully-functioning kitchen for cooking, baking and prep needs, The Food Fort strives to give its members access to untapped markets and networks that help optimize employment opportunities.

“This is going to be a great opportunity for our members to be introduced to a whole new audience,” says Alicia Grantham, Manager of The Food Fort. “QFM 96 reaches hundreds of thousands of listeners daily. By partnering with such a prominent player in the Central Ohio region, our members have become quite excited.”

The Food Truck Festival will take place at QFM 96’s radio station, just south of Westerville. With plans to feature a prominent line-up of live music throughout the day, promotional give-aways, as well as delectable food from more than 25 of Central Ohio’s most popular mobile “foodie-preneurs,” The Food Truck Festival expects to attract thousands of QFM 96 fans, as well as curious food connoisseurs.

“We are so excited to be partnering with The Food Fort for the first ever QFM 96 Food Truck Fest,” Sue Leighton, QFM 96 Promotions Director says. “I see that as an incredible way to celebrate with our clients and engage our community…and it’s a perfect event for our listeners! I really can’t wait! Bring on the food trucks!”

QFM 96’s Food Truck Festival will be located at QFM 96’s studio, 2400 Corporate Exchange Dr., Columbus, Ohio, 43231, from noon – 7 p.m. Interested foodies can dine on offerings from Pitabilities, Swoop! Food Truck, OH! Burgers, Herb’n Food Truck, Flat Top Pizza, Red Plate Blue Plate, A Cut Above, Dos Hermanos, Culvers of Reynoldsburg, J Pops, Sweet! Mobile Cupcakery, Loops, Challah!, Kinetic, Blu Olive, Lily’s Mini Donuts, Smok’n Cantina, Fun’l Frenzy, Tortilla, Taco Sherpa, Mangia Dolce, Donatos Street Pizza, Kenny’s Meat Wagon, and more.

The Food Fort is an extension of the non-profit, The Economic and Community Development Institute. Located at 737 Parkwood Ave., The Food Fort has been operating since 2011. If interested in becoming a Food Fort member, booking a mobile vendor for your event, or to simply learn more about The Food Fort’s offerings, please call 614-732-0573.

OH! Burgers Set To Open OH! Chips

29 May

OH!Brian Thornton, owner and operator of OH!Burgers, is a food industry vet. Starting in high school at Skyline chili, Brian realized that he loved the atmosphere. “I liked serving people food and just making people happy through food,” he says of that first experience. “I decided to go to culinary arts school with the intention of someday opening my own restaurant.” He wasted no time leaving for the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago (now Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago). After finishing at CHIC, Brian attended OSU for Business management while working a series of restaurant jobs, including Hyde Park steakhouse and the Refractory.

The a-ha moment came when Brian attended the Food Truck Fest at Columbus Commons, thinking to himself – and I quote – “Well, that’s pretty freakin’ sweet!” Now that he had an idea to work towards, Brian once again put his nose to the grindstone, making a business plan for OH!Burgers while working at 89 Fish & Grill (formerly Michael O’ Tool’s).

There are two real stand out aspects to OH!Burgers- The miniature size of the burgers, and the replacement of the standard-issue side of fries with freshly fried sweet potato chips. “We saw the burger trucks and realized they were running super slow, so we wanted mini burgers. And we didn’t want to have a fryer on during the day so that’s why we chose chips,” Brian told me.

His formula seems to be working: OH!Burgers is running full time, and Brian’s chips started selling out within the first year. He turned to EDCI’s food business incubator, the Food Fort, for help. “I started looking for a new fryer, and started bugging Food Fort about running a fryer here. They allowed me to buy the fryer and put it in and start frying.” It has been a successful relationship. Of the Food Fort, Brian told me “The collaboration between the food truck owners, the food cart owners, different caterers, stuff like that is something that’s helped. Drove my business, I know that for sure.”

The chips are so successful, that Brian has shifted his focus. The potential is such that he is working as fast as he can to get them in stores- “I’ve already had people contact me about [that]… I’m turning people away right now to be honest with you. The chips have a much higher potential than the truck does.”

Future plans for Brian include opening a warehouse to increase production of his sweet potato and kettle chips. He hopes to begin operating from the warehouse in September 2014. You can find OH!Burgers at 4 String Brewing Company Friday nights or at http://www.streetfoodfinder.com. Connect with OH!Burgers on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/OHBurgers) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/OH_Burgers).

The Food Fort Featured On Good Day Columbus

15 May COMMONS

We had a great time showcasing some of our extraordinary clients today at The Columbus Commons for Good Day Columbus. Special thanks to Pitabilities, Swoop! Food Truck, and Tatoheads for participating.

 

ALL PICS

Trucks getting ready for that lunch rush

COMMONS

Good Day Columbus’s Dana Turtle interviewing Columbus Commons’ Amy Taylor

PITA 1

Pitabilities

TATOHEADS 1

Tatoheads

Swoop Food Truck

Swoop! Food Truck

 

Red Plate Blue Plate: How Food Trucks Can Help The Community

25 Apr
Thomas Adams, owner of Red Plate Blue Plate

Thomas Adams, owner of Red Plate Blue Plate

By Evan Schieber

Columbus-ite Thomas Adams was an expert in the tire business. Between doing global product development, selling for a large account on the east coast, and working as head of marketing for the U.S. branch of a global tire company, it’s safe to say that he had found a comfortable niche. However, after 30 years in the industry, the cracks were beginning to show.

“The last two or three years, every 8 weeks I was in China,” Said Adams. “I loved the people, but it’s rough…my health was starting to suffer, and quality of life was just tough.” After 30 years, Adams was ready to take on a new venture.

After leaving the tire industry, Adams found himself having a light-bulb moment while working in soup kitchens in Philadelphia. He realized that he could culminate his interests in fresh food and asset based community development by running a gourmet food truck.

Adams started his food truck endeavor Red Plate Blue Plate with a used Utilimaster van. After a bumpy start (his first test-drive led to his engine catching ablaze), Adams worked out the kinks and settled into serving Charleston-inspired southern coastal style of cuisine. “Kind of where the garden and the shore meet in the Carolinas, down to Georgia” Adams says.

Through an internet search for commissary kitchens, Adams found an ally in the ECDI powered Food Fort-a food business incubator featuring a licensed commissary and a full sized commercial kitchen. It provides him with many resources.
“I was on gravel before. I have sanitation here, I have an inside sink, I have a prep area. I don’t have to do absolutely everything on the truck which is what I had to do last year,” Adams noted. Adams also discovered that his personal philosophy aligned with that of the Food Fort. “The heart of ECDI is economic-based community development, so I have an instant alignment here,” he said.

Adams has big ideas driven by asset-based community development- a technique Thomas learned at his church, Sanctuary of Columbus. Asset-based community development helps communities empower themselves by taking inventory of the strengths and assets they possess. One such idea is Red Plate Blue Plate’s alter ego, Abe’s Kitchen.

“[Abe’s Kitchen] owns this thing called a H.E.A.T. menu: Healthy, Economical, and Tasty. Imagine a dollar menu, like one dollar, two dollar, four dollars. And one dollar gets you a nice, healthy, high value sandwich. Two dollars gets you a sandwich and a side. Four dollars and you’re carrying dinner home” Adams explained. Driven by food and time donated by the community it’s serving in, Abe’s Kitchen would be an example of the effectiveness of asset based community development.

Red Plate Blue Plate maintains an updated calendar at streetfoodfinder.com. In the future, they hope to develop partnerships with the burgeoning growler and brewpub industry in the University District. For questions and booking, Thomas Adams can be contacted at  or (614) 859-0809.

–Evan started working as an intern at ECDI’s Food Fort in April of 2014. He has been working closely with its director to develop new informational materials for the Food Fort as well as a portfolio of client-focused photographs. A native of Columbus, Evan has a passion for cycling advocacy and photography. Evan is currently studying writing at Antioch College, and is in Columbus for his cooperative work term. He can be reached at eschieber (at) ecdi.org, or by phone at (614) 559-0193.–

Women’s Day Event at ECDI’s Women’s Business Center June 22nd

12 Jun

Womens Day Flyer Jpg June 22

The Women’s Business Center at ECDI invites all to come with family and friends to celebrate Women’s Day on June 22nd from 11 am to 4:00 pm.

The event will be held on the ECDI Campus at 1655 Old Leonard Ave.

The day will feature family friendly activities, mobile food vendors including Pitabilities and Dan’s Deli 41, an e-waste recycling drive from 10 am to 2 pm, live music and guest speakers. Liz Lessner from Columbus Food League (Betty’s, Tip Top, Jury Room, Dirty Frank’s, Grass Skirt Tiki Room, Surly Girl Saloon) and Eartha Recycling will be a featured speaker at the conclusion of the day.

Speaker and event schedule is listed below:


Speaker Schedule

11:15 – 12:00 p.m.
Jacqueline Holland, RN, CRNP, WHNP- Program Manager, Diversity
Diversity Enhancement Program at the James Cancer Clinic
Health and Balance in Our Lives

12:15 – 12:45 p.m.
Dress for Success –“What not to Wear” Presentation and Make-over”

12:30 – 1:00 p.m.
Catfish Lily – Live Music

1:00 – 1:45 p.m.
TaKeysha S. Cheney, Founder, CEO and Publisher of The Women’s Book
The Importance of Making Connections

2:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Dress for Success- “What not to Wear” Presentation and Make-over”

2:15 – 2:45 p.m.
Catfish Lily – Live Music

2:45 – 3:30 p.m.
Liz Lessner, CEO and President of Betty’s Family of Restaurants
The Dream, the Vision, the Budget


RecycleForce Columbus

Donate your old computers, TVs & almost anything with a cord and put
individuals with barriers to employment to work!

What is e-Waste?

Unwanted consumer and business electronic products nearing the
end of their useful life are called e-Waste or e-scrap (computers, game systems, phones, etc.)

A $5 donation/disposal fee is required for computer monitors up TVs up to 27”
and $10 donation for TVs larger than 27”.

Bleu and Fig Valentines Day Cooking Class

8 Feb

Who needs a date when you get to use a blowtorch!

Bleu & Fog Logo
Come to the Food Fort For a cooking class with Bleu and Fig on Valentines Day from 7-9 pm!
We cook, we eat, we enjoy wine (BYOW)!
Come join us for some hands on fun cooking. Learn to make the recipes, and taste all the class creations!
Menu:
Warm roasted garlic mozzarella focaccia bread pizza
Hot and sassy spicy seared scallops
Cheddar grits
Steamed artichokes with clarified butter
Raspberry brulee

Tour of the Incubator Kitchens

4 Sep

Here is a tour of our incubator kitchens (we have since added more equipment and worked on our handheld recording technique).

Click here to view the video

Find Out More About The Fort on Facebook

23 Aug

Our Facebook Page features links about our clients and customers, stories related to mobile food and kitchen incubators, photos from events and videos that share the Food Fort Culture.  We would love you to like us.  Thanks

The Food Fort on Facebook

Food Fort Fest Press Release for our August 17th Event + Video!

10 Aug

For Immediate Release Contact: Susan Fortner, CEO

The Bowers PR Agency

614-562-0054

susan@bowerspr.com

Celebrate Local Foods Week August 17 With ECDI’s New Commercial Kitchen Open For Public Use

The Food Fort at ECDI will be celebrating the Grand Opening of its new commercial kitchen, August 17, during the Celebrate Local Foods Week. This is the fourth annual event where Columbus businesses come together to promote and support local foods.

Saturday August 11 through Sunday August 18 all of Columbus will be celebrating Local Foods Week for the fourth year. As part of the week long activities ECDI will be hosting a Food Fort Fest on August 17 from 5 pm until 9 pm.

As part of the celebration, ECDI will be hosting the Grand Opening of its new commercial kitchen in it’s subsidiary, The Food Fort. “We will be showing off the new incubator kitchen spaces in the Eddie Grayson Culinary Lab with tours and samples from some of our kitchen clients,” said Steve Fireman, President and General Counsel for ECDI.

The Food Fort’s Commercial Kitchen was established with the small business culinary start-up in mind. Investing in a commercial kitchen can be an astronomical expense for a food company just getting started. With this type of community resource, new food companies can rent a commercial kitchen for a place to prepare their products in an environment that meets all of the local health department’s safety requirements.

Guests, of the Food Fort Fest, will have the opportunity to enjoy signature dishes from several of the resident mobile vendors including Pitabilities, Ajumama, OH! Burgers, Per Zoot, and Kenny’s Meat Wagon. Bleu and Fig Catering, one of the kitchen clients, will be doing cooking demonstrations and passing out samples.

In addition to food for the adults there will be activities and a DJ for the younger set. “We have some other surprises and treats in the works as well, “said James Ellison, Food Fort Coordinator at ECDI.

The Food Fort at ECDI is located at 1655 Old Leonard Avenue in Columbus.

For further information visit their website at http://www.thefoodfort.com or call 614-559-0115.

About ECDI

The Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) is a non-profit economic development organization located in Columbus, Ohio. Its mission isto invest in people to create measurable and enduring social and economic change. Since its inception in 2004, the institute has in place a comprehensive suite of programming designed to support Columbus businesses and individuals. Program participants are given the training, tools, and assistance they need to build their businesses, earn living wage incomes in the short term and purchase and maintain assets for the future.

To learn more about the Food Fort, watch this video from 10TV

Food Fort Fest Press Release

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