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Invitation Only: Roys Avenue Supper Club features exclusive dinner meet-ups

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Though it doesn’t require the same ritualistic initiation as Eyes Wide Shut, Roys Avenue Supperclub, a private monthly tasting hosted at the home of Columbus chef Andrew Smith, is an affair where both indulgence and experience come together. For Smith, experience is something he often mentions when speaking about his creations.

After attending culinary school in Portland, Oregon, Smith relocated to Columbus in 2010, crafting meals at The Rossi for five years, and partially opening Rockmill Tavern along with the now-defunct Salt & Pine. Recently returning to The Rossi to manage quality control, Smith spontaneously began Roys Avenue Supperclub with the aid of his wife, Devoney Mills.

“It’s really fun being able to put an elaborate dinner together and pull that off with her help, because there’s no way I’d be able to do any of it without her,” Smith says of his partnership with Mills. “It’s very underground, word-of-mouth. We do have an Instagram page, but that’s the extent of it.”

The Instagram page for Roys Supperclub is a detailed visual portal into dishes featured at past and upcoming dinners, along with the curation of menus each month. At a glance, viewers can find a whipped dollop of white chocolate ice cream, dusted by toasted buckwheat and glazed with bay oil, along with a thumb- sized short rib, sprinkled with molasses, garlic lemon and macadamia. Just as you begin to salivate, a nine-course menu may catch your eye, one specifically made with a certain bird in mind.

“One of the things with that dinner is, we wanted to showcase duck in a way that most people aren’t used to eating it. Just because we were using duck, it doesn’t mean that that was the focal point of each dish,” Smith says. “We wanted to be able to highlight a specific ingredient with the duck instead of highlighting the duck with another ingredient. We tried to utilize everything, from the liver, to the fat, to the skin, to the legs, to the breasts, everything was a part of it.”

Constantly forward-thinking, Smith and Mills assess their relationships with other food resources, utilizing the farm-to-table method, and updating guests on what they’ll be served prior to arrival. It’s a build up of communication that eventually leads to the execution of both nourishment and connectivity.

“Menus are generally written three to four weeks out, and they’re definitely inspired by as many local farmers or people who are raising whatever animal we use,” Smith says. “I think that’s where the biggest part of where we get our ingredients is trying to work with people who can provide the highest quality that we can find locally.”

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Held in Smith and Mills’ home, Roys Avenue Supperclub allows not only room for the enjoyment of culinary arts, but the conjuring of discussions between guests who may have been previously unfamiliar.

“The two of us, we have a lot of acquaintances and people that we’re more than comfortable having in our home. Keeping it word-of-mouth and small, it allows us to really provide a comfortable atmosphere for people who want to come and participate in our club,” Smith says. “If someone were to just come in randomly, our home is very inviting and it’s a very chill, laid-back atmosphere. We have people that leave the dinner at the end of the night and they didn’t know anybody else there and they feel like they’ve just had dinner with people they’ve known forever.”

Thoughtfully garnishing dishes that are able to be savored within a few bites, Smith also foresees eventually holding a fully-vegetarian or pescatarian dinner.

With menus being presented in invitation form, for now, the minds behind Roys Avenue Supperclub are only taking allergies into consideration, not wanting to restrict their creativity.

“I really feel like my approach to food, I would like to say, changes as I change. I think that I’ve learned more about the term ‘less is more’ than I ever thought I knew,” Smith says. “The more we do these dinners, the more we’re able to accomplish that in a more efficient way than before. I don’t know if that makes sense or not, but I think we’re getting better and faster with coming up with ideas, because we don’t have any restraints. My wife and I love each other very much, so it really helps in the situation. It provides a really amazing thought process between the two of us.”

More experimental than practical, Smith prides Roys Avenue Supperclub for its innovation and reliability, transforming the dinner table into a meeting place where ideas are interwoven. “We’re trying to provide an experience that is unique to Columbus, not for us, but for the guests. We want them to leave feeling like they’ve had a different experience, like it’s something they’re not used

to having in their city,” Andrew says. “We want them to have made friends with people that were there, we want them to talk about food and keep that conversation going, and hopefully it can spark some creativity in them.”

To see the latest creations from Andrew Smith, visit roys_ave_supperclub on Instagram.

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What it’s like to work at Buckeye Donuts for 24 hours straight

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It was late. I didn’t plan it. It just happened. It always just happens, right? I don’t recall many of the details, but I know I left happy and satisfied, with a big smile on my face. From that moment on, I was in love—with Buckeye Donut that is.

For the uninitiated (assuming there are any of you out there) Buckeye Donuts is a 24 hour restaurant located in the campus area, on High Street. It’s a place to grab a quick meal on the cheap. But for a Columbus girl like me, Buckeye Donuts is so much more than just a place to eat. It’s a local institution. Nothing says “home” to me more than driving down High Street and spotting its big, red sign with the picture of a giant donut on it.

Buckeye Donuts is a gathering place to sit and talk about the weather, politics, or just about anything else on your mind over a plate of some very satisfying, down home comfort food. Eat there often enough, and the staff will start treating you like family.

So, one day, when my editor magazine came up with the idea to write about some of Columbus’ finest round the clock institutions, I shared my idea: I would try my hand at working there—for 24 hours straight! “Go for it,” he said. Somehow, the good folks at Buckeye Donut agreed, and before I knew it, I was there, ready to make it happen.

First Shift
“Go wash up or put some gloves on,” says Jimmy, the owner of my new place of employment for the next 24 hours. I chose the first option and headed off to the bathroom at the back of the kitchen, where I scrubbed like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator. Beats a pair of latex gloves, two sizes too big for my hands.

7:00am
1970’s disco pours out of the sound system. The percolator pops in time to the beat as coffee bubbles out onto the burner. Bacon and eggs hiss and sizzle on the grill. Cookware clatters. Above the chaos, Jimmy’s mom Tula shouts out orders in Greek. It’s busy and the breakfast crowd is full of regulars. Jimmy introduces me to one named Johnny Boy. Johnny Boy has eaten there every day—sometimes twice a day—since the place opened in the 1970’s. He drinks ten coffees a day and eats four donuts.

7:30am
I meet Yanni, the head baker. He has been working here since 1977. He holds out a floury hand for me to shake. He is a master donut maker and
the backbone of the operation. I also meet Victor and Miguel, the first shift cooks. They are master chefs in their own right and their grill game shows it. I can already tell they will be great teachers.

8:00am
Jimmy asks me if I am ready to try my hand at preparing a couple of orders. Um, no. He convinces me to frost some freshly baked Buckeye Donuts instead. The iconic item is a crowd favorite, along with newer offerings like the maple bacon cream filled variety. Beside me, dough is being rolled out in giant sheets and glazes of all sorts are being prepared in vats. Frosting donuts seems simple enough: fill a spoon and spread. It melts on contact and oozes down the sides and onto the countertop, leaving me with a chocolate mess. Yanni comes to my rescue.

8:30am
I switch to the grill and squirt a generous amount of liquid butter (literally the grease that keeps the wheels of Buckeye Donut spinning) onto the surface. My first hash browns look decent but I flub the omelet flip, so into the trash can it goes. Victor nudges me aside and prepares a textbook version.

10:30am
The restaurant slows down enough for Jimmy to give me a crash course on sandwich prep. I do my best to turn out gyros, Philly steak and Greek sausage. After rolling five or six, I feel like I’ve got the hang of it. At least, if I’m making one order at a time.

11:00am
Lunch break. I have the falafel wrap—a pita filled with grilled veggies, onion, lettuce, tomato and tahini sauce. It’s pretty good, but the falafel is overcooked and the wrap comes undone, causing some to land in my lap. I’ve got no one to blame but myself—I made it.

12:30pm
The lunch rush is in full swing. Johnny boy is back, along with another regular, known as Yanni the Maintenance Guy. He got this name because he fixes things at the restaurant as often as he eats there. Jimmy pauses from his orders long enough to tell me the story about the time Andy, a nightshift manager who happens to live upstairs, passed out drunk with his shower running. Water came pouring through the kitchen ceiling right in the middle of donut production. It was Yanni who came and saved the day.

Second Shift
16 hours to go! My feet hurt and my face is greasy but thanks to all the donuts I’ve sampled, my blood sugar is soaring and I’m feeling pretty damn good.

5:00pm
The dinner crowd has begun to arrive and Dave and Gary, the second shift cooks are getting ready for action. “Want to clean the grill” Dave asks? Ugh. I roll up my sleeves and do it. Shower please!

6:00pm
Some other important customers have arrived. My kids. One laughs. The other two look shocked. Do I look that bad? I serve them perfectly formed glazed donuts and milk – no doubt the best ones I have made all day.

6:30pm
The dinner rush is still going strong. The next order is mine and I’m shaking. Seating is limited, so the goal is always to get people in and out quick. I give it my best shot.

7:30pm
My best friend shows up and I fix her a perfect veggie wrap and fries. She is impressed. Thank goodness somebody is!

Third Shift
It’s getting late and I’m getting nervous. Not too much longer before the crazies start coming. During a brief lull, the night crew takes a moment to tell me about the time a baller limo pulled up at 2am and Prince got out. “He spent half an hour in the bathroom and then ordered donuts for his entire entourage,” they explained.

11pm
The calm before the storm. As I brace myself for the bar rush, I remember that today just happens to be Friday the 13th. I start thinking about every horrible thing my friends and I did to restaurant employees back when we were teenagers. My karma is coming for me. I can feel it. I pray silently that Curtis, Bunny and the rest of the late crew will have my back.

Midnight
I dare not sit down for fear of falling asleep. I start to open my heart and mind to the coming chaos. I need it. It’s my only hope of staying awake.

2am
The witching hour is well in the rearview. And just like that, they start to come. The talk is louder and orders crazier than during the day. There are tables full of booze soaked college students. Laughter rings out and F-bombs fly. The place is packed and I help out in the kitchen. My wraps are Instagram-worthy! Bring it on!

3am
An OSU t-shirt wearing kid orders and a few minutes later, his food is in his lap He is hunched over. I have come to call this the Buckeye Donut lean. He’s pale and in bad shape. Gary, the late cook fixes him a new plate, on the house. Once he gets some of it in his stomach, his color improves and smiles woozily at his friends. Thankfully, it all stays in his belly and he and his wasted buddies hit the door. All hail Gary, the savior of the night shift.

4 am
The late rush is over and the staff receives deliveries. Yanni is back and donut production is in full swing again. Overall, it was a pretty tame night. No fights or thrown food. Everyone who works at Buckeye Donuts has stories. “Back in the old days, the cops would typically come rolling in around midnight, and the ambulance would get here by two,” Gary explains. But for now, all is well.

5-6am
This period is little more in my memory now than a distant and faded spell of delirium punctuated by black coffee. I recall my ramblings on a litany of subjects ranging from the bizarre to the intellectual only because I’ve recorded them in voice memo.

7am
I made it! 24 hours at Buckeye Donut! Jimmy is back and he slaps me a high five. I stumble to the bathroom sink where I had scrubbed in the morning before, splash water on my grease soaked face and somehow manage to drive home.

After 24 hours on the inside, I can still say that Buckeye Donut is one of my favorite places to eat. Why? Because its more than just a place to grab food. It’s an experience. It’s filled with people from all walks of life, all looking for a little bit of happiness and community—like a microcosm of the city itself. And although its not always perfect, it’s a beautiful thing. Just ask Jimmy.

Oh, and if you have never been there, get going! Trust me, you will never forget your first time.

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“Eco-chic” healthy eats restaurant opening in Easton

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Searching for the truth? Find it at Easton's newest restaurant.

True Food Kitchen is a relaxed, "eco-chic," health-conscious food chain opening at 4052 Worth Ave. this spring, according to the company website.

Without sacrificing flavor, creativity, or indulgence, True Food Kitchen offers vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-friendly options on its brunch, lunch, and dinner menus.

Guests can enjoy their gluten-friendly Lasagna Bolognese or vegetarian pizza from the bright dining area or outdoor covered patio.

Craving a cold libation with your meal? Hit up the scratch bar featuring fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices, seasonal cocktails, local beer, and wine.

To learn more about True Food Kitchen Columbus, click here.

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Tastebud Traveling: Free tasting event coming to North Market

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Take a family tastebud trip with the return of Kalamata’s Kitchen Tasting Tour at the North Market this weekend.

Kalamata’s Kitchen will kick off a 12-month, 12-city tasting tour in Columbus on Saturday, February 22. This premier event for kids and families will feature tasty bites from North Market vendors representing food from around the world.

According to a release, every child participant is treated like a VIP as they discover new foods and learn about unique perspectives from celebrated chefs. Kids receive a VIP badge and a Food Adventure Passport that is stamped each time they try a new food. They will also have the opportunity to meet Sarah Thomas, co-founder and author of the Kalamata’s Kitchen book series.

This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit kalamataskitchen.com and/or northmarket.com.

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