An open letter to Columbus' food and beverage professionals....
I apologize for lumping all of you together, but since it kind of connects everyone I figured this would be the best way. Columbus, and the Columbus area, has become a food/beverage/restaurant hotbed and, yes, that is something you are not unfamiliar with. And with the growth of superb food and drink establishments you have unknowingly engineered a drive for foodies in Columbus to become more active in attempting to create your success in their own homes for friends, relatives and those alike.
You can literally see the interest by browsing local discussion boards (http://www.columbusunderground.com/) and the number of local connoisseurs who have started their own food and beverage blogs (http://www.restaurantwidow.com/ , http://columbusbeerguys.wordpress.com/ , http://www.columbusfoodie.com/ , etc.) which have become rather popular.
With that said, I believe you could develop some sort of competition in which the locals (the foodies, neighborhood kitchen gurus and basement brew doctors) would submit dishes and beverages of their own doing. Those chosen, or selected, would be highlighted at your establishments (on special, limited time menus or offerings) for the rest of Columbus to enjoy. The winners would get their names and city/suburb/village/place of residence splattered next to their concoctions on the menus. This would celebrate and recognize that Columbus' food & beverage scene is more than just the work of the professionals these days. The professionals have created an underground need for good food, good drink and a culture of satisfying the palate.
To continue the Columbus connection I was thinking that whatever is charged as an entry fee, or however money is raised, the funds would then benefit a Columbus area charity, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank or the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks or Nationwide Children's Hospital or something of that nature. A portion of the purchase price at said establishments would also benefit the charity or charities.
For the sake of giving it an identity it could be called something like, “Food Me! Columbus” or “Drink Me! Columbus” (or something MUCH LESS LAME). Now if there is something like this going on...please tell me to leave you alone and to go away, but to my current knowledge there is not a program of this sort going on in Columbus.
Now would this, in turn, be turned into a festival or event held in the Columbus area, I don't know. Though, I do believe it would be quite the draw if it were to come to that. Of course, that would also evolve into developing partnerships and sponsorships and what have you. A lot of work, but I believe this would be a major benefit for Columbus.
I am just an area resident who has a passion for food & beverage, cooking and the restaurant industry. If you have any thoughts on the matter, please feel free to discuss. I encourage you to do so. Otherwise have a great day and keep up the excellent work.