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Food & Drink

Pies Wide Shut: 2 guys, 2 beards, 1 intense pizza challenge

J.R. McMillan



Competitive eating can be a bit of a cult. Like fans of TED or The Walking Dead, there are rules and rituals of which the uninitiated are blissfully oblivious.

That’s why it seemed disingenuous to write about food challenges without joining the inner sanctum by taking one on personally—so I did.

Joseppi’s Mega Meat Pizza Challenge was the obvious choice for several reasons. It was the only team contest, so spreading the blame as generously as the sauce would still preserve my street cred. It also had the lowest rate of success, which set the bar right at my level. Finally, the payout was pretty impressive, not that I’d be in the mood for another pie any time soon.

I presumed finding a partner would be equally challenging, but it turned out to be quite easy. One post on Facebook yielded a quick offer from someone who also had the gumption, just not a teammate. Blase Pinkert and I are in the same neighborhood beer brewing brood. The sometimes powerlifter and Gaelic football player could crush you with a gaze as easily as a clenched fist. It didn’t hurt that he also had a reputation for eating anything at least once and a beard big enough to hide a few slices under it if the contest was close.

“In the Air Force, I was the guy who would take on any challenge, that was my role in the shop. I’ve always been an entertainer; so I fed off of the attention,” Pinkert revealed. “I learned I could get people to throw 10 or 20 on the table and make a few bucks doing this.”

We’d called ahead the week before, so they were expecting us. The crust starts out on a pan the size of a wagon wheel, and by the time they’re done topping it with successive layers of meat and cheese, it’s nearly as thick as one. It’s so big, it has to go through the oven twice and takes two people to carry it.



This is when the head games begin. The kitchen staff tells you cautionary tales about those who have failed—and the “Loser’s Bucket.” They start prepping the table with bowls of ranch dressing and barbeque sauce, explaining that the taste turns on you and most have to change it up to keep going. They warn you about drinking too much, or too little. Passing patrons and dutiful denizens weigh in on the long odds of finishing, or even getting close.

When the pie hits the table, it almost eclipses it entirely. If not for the lingering heat, they could just put legs on the pan and scoot chairs under it. It looks like a cinematic sight gag, from the movie Top Secret.

We’d prepared the way professional competitive eaters do, with a stomach stretching meal the evening prior and lots of water to preserve the new found space until go time. A few quick pics for posterity and the clock started. We went hard charging for the edges and mentally broke up the 60 slices into short-term goals.

Chew too little and you waste space. Chew too much and you waste time. At 20 minutes, we’d already blown past Cameron Fontana and his camera guy’s mark. It was looking good.

Then the meat sweats set in and we hit “the wall.”

The wall is different things for different people. For us, it was the salt of the bacon and ham that did us in. When you can’t quench your thirst and have plenty of room left to drink, but can’t stand the thought of another bite, that’s the wall.


We’d each eaten about a large pizza, no small feat considering by the time we got from the edge to the center, it was more than an inch thick. Pinkert’s athletic training came into play, but we still couldn’t overcome the physics.

“It did help from a psychological aspect, the fact that you learn to push your body and ‘turn off’ or ignore the signals it tells you, to push yourself that much further,” he said.

After a few final slices, we took a break hoping for a late rally that never came. We barely knew each other before that evening, but after spending an hour gorging and gossiping, we’d joined the cult—even if we still didn’t know the secret handshake.

We parted ways, went home, and both slipped into a long carb coma, like a python that swallows a gazelle and has to chill for a few days before it finds the will to move again.

By the way, the pizza was delicious and is highly recommended. Otherwise, we never would have gotten as far as we did. Unlike almost all other food challenges, you get to keep the leftovers. I didn’t have to buy pizza for two weeks. And it was also an irresistible chance to try out that time-lapse app on my phone, shrinking an hour down to three minutes—scored to the theme song from Benny Hill, of course.

But bawdy British sketch comedy is another kind of cult altogether.

Joseppi’s has locations in Lincoln Village, Grove City, Harrisburg, and Hilltop. Click here for more info. 

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Food & Drink

3 cocktails to try at home with High Bank Distillery’s new Professor Rum

Mitch Hooper



Making cocktails at home is hard—that’s a statement we won’t get much debate from with the drinkers at home. Maybe it’s the magic the bartenders in this city wield that make our drinks so damn delicious, or maybe it’s just our lack thereof. But sometimes all you need is a few tricks of the trade to become a master of your own home bar, and that’s where High Bank Distillery comes in.

Fresh from the still comes High Bank’s newest bottle release: Professor Rum. Stock & Barrel stopped by the facility, kitchen, and bar to see how we could concoct our very own cocktails at home with the rum. Here are three options for you to try. Or of course, just simply stroll down to HBD and have one of their cocktail wizards whip you up a delicious elixir.

Rum Julius

1.5 oz. Vanilla Infused Professor Rum .75 oz. Demerara Simple Syrup
1 oz. Half and Half
2 oz. Fresh Orange Juice

Instructions: Combine ingredients in a shaker and shake well. Garnish with orange zest and mint sprig.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

Peat's Me

1.5 oz. Professor Rum
.5 oz. Laphroaig
.25 oz. Simple Syrup
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters 2 Dashes Cardamom Bitters

Instructions: Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Stir. Pour over a big ice cube and garnish with lemon peel.

5 Stormy Nights

2 oz. Chinese spiced rum
.25 oz. lime juice
.25 oz simple syrup
Goslings Ginger Beer to Float

Instructions: Combine rum, lime, and simple syrup in a shaker and shake. Pour over ice in a copper mug and top with ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wheel.

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Food & Drink

Where’s the beef? At 614 Burger + Beer Week, coming soon!

Regina Fox



On the 18th of September, some great folks—the powers at be only know who—determined this would be the day humankind celebrates the juicy, succulent, greasy creation we've come to know and love as the cheeseburger.

And on October 7 through 12, your good friends here at (614) decided those would be the days we'd celebrate burgers and beer here in Columbus!

Burger + Beer Week, presented by (614) Magazine and Ohio Beef Council, is your chance to enjoy $6 burgers and local beer specials at 75+ of Columbus’ top restaurants:

Some restaurants will discount their menu mainstay burger for the event while others will whip up entirely new creations you can only get during Burger + Beer Week.

And thanks to our friends at Columbus Brewing Company, Seventh Son Brewing, Platform Beer Co - Columbus, and Land-Grant Brewing Company, you'll be able to greasily grab for a specially-priced pint to wash down your meal.

But, perhaps the best part of Burger + Beer Week is the opportunity to give back. Now through October 12, you can enter to receive dinner for four people at six Burger & Beer Week restaurants plus a craft beer gift package, with each unique entry equally a $0.25 donation to the Columbus Diaper Coalition!

Be sure to RSVP to the event and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for loads of burger giveaways, like this one we have going on right now with Ted's Montana Grill!

Burger & Beer Week is made possible thanks to: Ohio Beef Council, Gordon Food Service, Trinity Homes, Lamar Advertising of Columbus, OH, Financial Providence Group, The Brew 105.7, WNCI 97.9, The Wasserstrom Company, BMI Federal Credit Union, Stock and Barrel, Yelp Columbus, and 614now.

**No tickets are needed for this event but you can view participating restaurants & menus as they're added at soon!

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Food & Drink

10 deals and steals for National Cheeseburger Day

Regina Fox



Google defines a cheeseburger as "a hamburger with a slice of cheese on it," but we all know it's so much more.

It's an extension of your dominant hand during the summer months. It's something you can look forward to grilling up after a long workweek. It's your favorite food.

Today, we celebrate all this and more with National Cheeseburger Day.

Below are deals and steals to take advantage of on this glorious holiday. Happy eating, Columbus!

Applebee's | Multiple locations

Classic Bacon Cheeseburger and endless fries for $6.99

Red Robin | Multiple locations

A Gourmet Cheeseburger and Bottomless Steak Fries are just $5 with the purchase of any alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage.

Ted's Montana Grill | Multiple locations

Burger + fresh-cut fries deal for just $6. Click here for a chance to win a $25 gift card!

Dairy Queen | Multiple locations

Dairy Queens offering two for $4 Super Snack deal, which includes mix-and-match snacks including choice of a cheeseburger, a small sundae, fries, pretzel sticks, or chicken tenders.

Burger Theory | 175 E Town St

You can get a free burger at all Burger Theory restaurants located in Holiday Inn hotels, while supplies last.

Wendy's | Multiple locations

You can get a free Dave's Single with any Wendy's purchase with an offer on the mobile app. The deal lasts until September 30.

McDonald's | Multiple locations

Download the chain's app to get a sandwich for $1, including Big Macs! The offer is available until September 30.

Houlihan's | 3150 Tremont Rd, Upper Arlington

Get the Houlihan’s Burger with cheese and fries for only $5.

Bareburger| Multiple locations

From 3pm- 6pm, you can get a BOGO deal on Bareburger's American or vegan Golden State burger.

Burger King | Multiple Locations

Get a cheeseburger for 59 cents with a mobile order on the chain’s app. Limit one coupon per person.

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