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Some Like it Hot: Columbus Fiery Foods Festival makes its debut this weekend




Sitting on a table at the Columbus Commons, Mike Gallicchio’s phone rings constantly for 15 minutes. It buzzes. He ignores it (as he’s in the middle of our interview). This repeats.

That’s because Gallicchio is in the throes of organizing a calendar full of festivals around Columbus. He’s on overdrive, working 15 hours a day, but his enthusiasm seems boundless, and he’s particularly hyped about a new festival he’s helping launch in August: the Fiery Foods Festival.

With 35 vendors bringing their hottest foods, sauces, and salsas, the Fiery Foods Festival is poised to challenge even the toughest Midwestern taste buds. And for those who truly want to earn their stripes, they can compete in the hot pepper-, hot pizza-, hot wings-eating contests and/or amateur hot sauce-making contests.

Although Gallicchio is co-founding the festival with CD 102.5’s Randy Malloy, he says he won’t be partaking in those events. While everyone else is heating up, he wants to take a moment out of his packed schedule to cool down.

“I want to sit back and enjoy it. It’ll be fun,” Gallicchio said. “I’m excited. I think it’s going to be cool. It’s going to be great for the city.”

For the co-founder, the Fiery Foods Festival isn’t just a business venture; he loves spicy foods, which he likes to cook when he’s at home. Curries, in particular, are a specialty. “The hotter the better,” Gallicchio said. “My kids aren’t really fond of that, but my wife is and I am.”

This isn’t Gallicchio’s first time bringing such an event to Columbus. At 53, he’s been a business owner and entrepreneur in Columbus for more than 20 years. Nine years ago, he co-founded the Columbus Food Truck Festival “just out of pure fun at the time,” and along with that he now organizes the Columbus Summer Wine Festival and the Ohioana Book Festival, among others.

To put into perspective how much Gallicchio is doing right now, he says festival management isn’t even his main gig. It’s more of a supersized side hustle—what he does for fun, and for profit, to accompany his five- year-old business building customized food trucks.

“The food truck scene is thriving,” Gallicchio said. “It’s doing really, really well.”


To be fair, he doesn’t do the manual labor of installing commercial kitchens inside trucks. He’s more of the connecter, hooking up aspiring food truck owners with the vehicles they need. He says he just finished a grilled cheese truck, and his company is now working on a pasta one.

Gallicchio first became interested in food trucks and festivals after working in the restaurant industry. He owned a couple bars along Park Street, and after helping out with Park Street Festival, he decided to launch one for food trucks. A Columbus native and graduate of The Ohio State University, Gallicchio says he’s seen how vibrant the Downtown and Short North areas have become over the past few decades. He believes that the changes have created a market for events like the Fiery Foods Festival to be a success.

“Columbus is a growing, thriving city. I’ve been here my whole life, so I’ve seen it get bigger and better, so I’m excited to create these things,” Gallicchio said. “I’m used to putting these things together, so I just got to get past the first couple years. They either work or they don’t; it’s just a business to me in a sense.”

Across the U.S., spicy food festivals are also held in New York, Chicago and Albuquerque. Jungle Jim’s International Market near Cincinnati has a “Weekend of Fire.” But Gallicchio says he’s surprised there aren’t more.

Here in Columbus, the North Market used to host a similar spicy foods celebration until about five years ago. For Gallicchio’s version, he’s working with Flavor and Fire, a North Market vendor that used to be known as CaJohn’s Fiery Foods. At the event will also be Crimson Cup, with a spicy co ee, along with a variety of spicy food vendors.

The Fiery Food Festival will benefit the children’s charity CD102.5 for the Kids. A $30 ticket includes two beers or nonalcoholic beverages, an engraved fork, six spicy food samples and samples of all the hot sauces and salsas.

“It’s fun for me,” Gallicchio said. “I like to create things, I like new things, I like to put something together and see it really happen. That’s part of the thrill for me.”

This year’s Fiery Food Festival will be on Saturday, August 10 from 2 to 10 p.m. at the Columbus Commons. Tickets are available at

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Food & Drink

You’ll like Buckeye Donut’s newest treat a la lot




Columbus’ favorite donut shop will be rolling out [literally] a brand new treat just in time for the annual Columbus Food Truck Festival.

We think you’ll like it a la lot.

Ice cream and donuts will converge in perfect harmony for Buckeye Donuts Apple Fritter A La Mode! That’s right, a cool scoop of vanilla ice cream will rest on top of the fan favorite sweet and fruity fried pastry, all drizzled in sticky caramel. You might need a napkin (or sleeve) for this one.


This special goodie will be available Friday and Saturday from 11:00 AM- 11:00 PM only at the Columbus Food Truck Festival on the Scioto Mile.

Click here for our advise about how to optimize your experience at the foodie fest.

BEHOLD! The newest member of the Buckeye Donuts Family: Apple Fritter A La Mode! 🍩🍦Get your hands on this bad boy…

Posted by Buckeye Donuts on Thursday, August 15, 2019
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Food & Drink

Rossi or Ratssi? Rodents force closure at Short North restaurant




Someone is getting assigned to some “Charlie Work” after The Rossi Bar and Kitchen was served a red sticker by the Columbus Public Health Department.

The Short North restaurants was issued an emergency order yesterday because of “rodent activity in the basement prep area.” Reportedly, inspectors discovered dead rats in traps and excessive rat feces in the bowels of the 895 N. High St. building.


Rossi will remain closed until the facility is cleaned, holes in the basement are repaired, and the rats are under control, according to a post from Tom Sussi, a local licensed and insured Private Investigator.

Sussi added that sources informed him that employees are not being paid on time.

Rats!The rodents forced a popular Short North restaurant to shut its doors.The Columbus Public Health Department…

Posted by Tom Sussi on Thursday, August 15, 2019

In an Instagram post, Rossi announced it’d be closed “for the next few days due to emergency repair.”

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Food & Drink

Fried, Smothered, & Loaded: Vegetarian Junk Food

Mitch Hooper



Whenever the words “vegetarian” or “vegan” are thrown around, people’s defense walls go up as they instantly imagine bland salads or unseasoned tofu. Since both diets have become wildly popular trends in the world of eating, they are often associated with exclusive, healthy, clean, natural, raw, whatever…eating.

As a vegetarian, I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit. Sure, we vegetarians eat our share of salads, and occasionally tofu is substituted for chicken on our health-conscious dishes, but that’s not the full picture of our plates. Whether it’s loading up on carb-heavy sides, covering things in cheese (or vegan “cheese”), or living off the appetizer menu; living a plant-based diet can be just as much fun and games as any other fare – and here are a few dishes from around Columbus to prove it.

AM Philly

Angry Baker Olde Towne East | 891 Oak St.

Angry Baker has found a way to cover things in cheese and still please the vegans. The AM Philly comes loaded with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and peppers with tofu scramble atop a fresh and soft hoagie bun. To keep it in true “cheese/steak” form, they top the entire masterpiece with vegan cheddar cheese and a little vegan mayo. The sandwich is every bit as flavorful as a regular Philly, plus it’s just as messy to eat. I recommend a few squirts of Sriracha on it, but then again, I recommend that on everything

Buffalo Mac

Woodhouse Vegan Pop-up | 1038 N High St.

Keeping it cheesy, but plant-based, comes from the vegan pop-up at Oddfellows with the Buffalo Mac. The entree is relatively simple, but that just means more chances to really focus on flavor. The Beyond Meat “chicken” strips are marinated in buffalo sauce to really pack a punch and then is topped with more buffalo sauce and dairy-free ranch dressing with a bed of dairy-free mac and “cheese” to dig into. It’s finished off with some raw red onion and scallions to fully recreate that buffalo-style experience. Keep an eye out for Woodhouse’s first brick-and-mortar location setting up shop in the Italian Village.

Fried Cauliflower 

Hadley’s Bar + Kitchen | 260 S Fourth St.

Cauliflower is the new favorite vegetable amongst dieters for being low-carb. It’s inviting to a variety of flavors, and it can be used in many creative ways. At Hadley’s, the fried cauliflower resembles the bar-style boneless wings you might be craving since ditching meat. It’s the little things you miss as a plant-eater (like dipping sauces). So finding a place that offers three different sauce options—Dr. Pepper barbeque, house hot, and General Tso’s—is quite a gratifying moment. Dunk these addicting suckers into Hadley’s house-made ranch or bleu cheese and you’ll be fighting your carnivorous friends off as they ask to try a bite.


Parma, Italy

Melt | 4206 Worth Ave. & 840 N High St.

Usually Melt’s sheer amount of dairy usage is enough to scare off any vegan within a 10-mile radius, but that all changed once Melt added an entire menu dedicated to vegan options. There are tons of options to choose from, but the Parma, Italy might take the caloric crown when it comes to plant-based indulgence. The sandwich features vegan chicken (or fried tofu) smothered in basil marinara with roasted garlic and vegan mozzarella cheese all in between two crusty pieces of garlic toast. It might not hurt to park a little further away from Melt just to burn a few extra calories on the way to and from devouring way too much food. 

The Joe Vegan Sloppy Sandwich

Lineage Brewing | 2971 N High St.

“Have some more sloppy joes! I made ‘em extra sloppy for you!” If that scene from Billy Madison still haunts you any time you go to break out some Manwich from the cupboard, put that canned sauce down and go to Lineage. Immediately order a beer to wash away the memory of the lunch lady, and then snag the Joe Vegan sloppy sandwich off the menu. It’s a hearty combination of lentils and kidney beans in the iconic sloppy joe sauce, and it’s topped with raw onion and your choice of vegan cheese sauce or cheddar cheese. Throw in a side of potato chips and it’s like being a teenager all over again except this time you didn’t have to steal your dad’s beer.

Vegan Barbeque Jackfruit

Alchemy | 625 Parsons Ave. 

& 1439 Grandview Ave. 

Jackfruit is a delicate fruit that tastes almost nothing like fruit. It’s a great vessel for sauces and flavorings, but if it’s not cooked properly, it can turn into a mushy mess. Thankfully, Alchemy has perfected this process with their vegan take on a classic barbeque pulled pork sandwich. The jackfruit is tender, but stays in form on the roll. For added texture and taste, the sandwich is served on a crunchy ciabatta roll with carrot cabbage slaw in an herbed cashew cream.

Brussel Sprouts

Barrel On High | 1120 N High St.

Don’t turn your nose up on Brussel sprouts, these green brain-looking vegetables are great for absorbing flavor and they have that “meaty” taste. At Barrel on High, these Brussels are oven-roasted and tossed into a Thai chili sauce making them potentially your new favorite thing. While the Thai chili brussel sprouts are worth tripling up on and calling it a dinner, might I point you in the direction of the Impossible Burger as well. The Impossible Burger has grown to fame because it resembles every aspect of meat while remaining plant-based, and Barrel’s straight-up approach of making an American classic go vegan will have you double checking the menu to make sure it’s not actually beef.

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