Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the “Taste of Innovation” event hosted by Fisher. The event was right up my alley. It was catered by local Columbus restaurants including Betty’s, Jury Room, Jeni’s Ice Cream, and others. And the keynote speaker was the owner of Northstar Café, Kevin Malhame – number one on my top five restaurants list. Thus, I took it as a sign of good fortune that my typical 8 pm Thursday night class was cancelled, allowing my classmates and I to attend this exciting event.
We expected the food to be small hors’ devours, but my friends and I were greeted with full-on entrée-size portions upon arrival, which suited our 8 pm bellies just fine. Some of the food I had tried before, like the veggie burrito from Betty’s. I have yet to dine at Piada, a quickly growing Chiptole-meets-Italian type restaurant. I had heard mixed reviews – some loving, some not so much. The burrito I tried put me in the not-so-much camp, but I will visit the actual restaurant before I take an official stance. I also tried some macaroni salad and chicken salad cups from Jury Room, both of which were fantastic. And, of course, the icing on the cake was the Dark Chocolate Gelato I had courtesy of Jeni’s Ice Cream – a staple in my life.
And then came the keynote speech from Kevin Malhame, owner of Northstar Café and Third and Hollywood restaurant here in Columbus. The chance to meet Kevin and hear him speak was my main motivation for attending the event. I’ve admired Northstar from the very first bite of Veggie Burger I took many years ago and have always wondered what it would be like to work for such an innovative company. Kevin spoke about what he looks for in a “good egg” – both in the culinary sense and in his employees. It is clear that Northstar Cafe sets very high standards for not only its ingredients, but also the people it chooses to represent them – both evident in the many dining experiences I’ve had there. After his speech, I was fortunate enough to actually speak one-on-one with Kevin about his restaurants and my career interests – and even snag a free dinner at Third and Hollywood (after giving it mixed reviews – hey, he told us he likes honesty!).
Stay tuned for my next blog post about my experience meeting Liz Lessner, the owner of Betty’s, another one of my top five!