Monday, September 28, 2009

Thorton Melon I Am

So I am about a month through my first term at Cincinnati State and I must say it was a lot more work than a anticipated. I am spending a lot of time on homework and frankly learning how to learn again. This is not easy for me, you know the whole "old dog, new tricks" deal. Well so far so good. I just need to learn that Triple Lindy and I should be just fine.

Friday, September 25, 2009

To Live, Love, Laugh and Learn (Tastingcasting At Donatos)

So this weeks TasteCasting was at Donatos, to try the new Hand Tossed Pizza they are offering now. What is that you say?

I know its pizza.... But let me tell you story of why Donatos is not just "a pizza joint."

Donatos was founded in 1963 by college sophomore Jim Grote. The first Donatos was established in Columbus, Ohio. When Jim Grote founded Donatos, he did it with only $1,300 dollars in his pocket and a simple philosophy: “To make the best pizza and to treat others the way I would like to be treated.” Today this philosophy is still the driving force behind everything they do at Donatos—both in their restaurants and the communities they serve. As a result, their four cultural cornerstones of Live, Love, Laugh and Learn is the thread that weaves through the very fabric of what Donatos stands for.

Today, Donatos has nearly 200 restaurants in 5 states and is growing fast. And that original pizza shop on Thurman Avenue in Columbus, purchased back in 1963 is still one of Donatos busiest, most successful locations.

So as I arrived to the Beckett Road Donatos in West Chester I was greeted by one the nicest folks I have ever met in a quick serve restaurant industry. His name is Tom Santor,from Donatos Marketing deparmnet, and he was just a pleasure to have there walking us through the ins and outs of Donatos and their new hand tossed pizza. As we got seated I could smell the aroma of pizzas cooking in the kitchen, this was enough to get my stomach growling instantly. So for those who know me this makes me very anxious and chragry (cranky and angry) if my stomach doesn't see food quickly. So has I sat there with a watering mouth and noisy stomach Tom got up and began to give us a quick history of Donatos and described what went into the development of their new hand tossed pizza. You could tell that Tom really loves his job because he just lit up when he began to tell us about Donatos. This was refreshing because sometimes its easy to focus on the bottom line and not see value in being passionate about the food. Tom was passionate and it showed in everything he did. As Tom finished the pizzas started to arrive and I was a happy Ken.

While tasting the pizza I made it a point to try the traditional 100 pepperoni Donatos pizza I have loved for years. I wanted to compare it to the hand tossed pizza and see if their were any similarities and define the differences. One of the first things I noticed was how both were very fresh, something I have always come to expect from Donatos. Although that is were the similarities ended. The hand tossed pizza was was piled high with fresh toppings not normally seen in this segment of the pizza industry. With whole milk mozzarella cheese and a new sweet and savory sauce that is very tasty. When these ingredients come together it is truly a welcomed surprise. Tom also added that Donatos spent three years developing this crust for the hand tossed pizza. And you can tell because as you bite it you get a nice airy and slight crunchiness that is just great. But to really understand Donatos pizza you have to not only taste it but you have to make it yourself right?

Yeap, that's right, I got to go back to the kitchen and make my very own hand tossed pizza. Something I wanted to do ever since I walked through the door and smelled the delicious aroma from the kitchen. Besides I am culinary student, what better way to have some fun but to get my hands dirty. I mean I was getting to go to Donatos Fantasy Camp! So as we made our way back to the kitchen we got introduced to most of the staff including Chris but his name badge said Pete. He said Pete was a nickname, if I were to give him a nickname I would say he was the pizza king. Because this guy did a great job of walking us through the important steps of making the new and delicious hand tossed pizza. First we had to dawn our aprons and let me say I looked damn good in mine. I was also joined by my Tastecasting friend Jesy, she almost looked as good as me in her apron. So we went step by step in assembling our works of art. Well mine was more like abstract art. As we got done we shoved them in the oven and waited to see the finish products. I must say mine didn't come out as bad as I thought. Overall being the kitchen gave me a real feel for the attention to detail and passion shared by everyone at Donatos to make a great pizza. Also Jesy and I got a pizza master badge, I plan on sewing mine onto my culinary school backpack.

It should be noted that not only does Donatos have pizza but the make great salads, subs, and dessert pizzas. One in particular was the Apple Timpano. Its tender crust pizza filled with whole apple slices and topped with a brown sugar streusel and caramel sauce. Make sure try this you will not be disappointed. The nice part about Donatos they show the same attention to their other items as the they to to their pizza. So you can't go wrong!

Donatos is also on Facebook, become a fan of ther page and you can win your own pizza party along with other great prizes and giveaways. They also will always keep you up to date with the latest promotions and coupons being offered at Donatos. Also you can easily place your order online directly from their website.

Donatos promise is:
To serve the best pizza and make your day a little better.

Mission accomplished.... Give Donatos a call today and try the best new pizza on the block!

*Note – The TasteCasting Team Members are not professional food critics. TasteCasting combines socially networked people and the social media platforms and applications they use to help establishments build awareness, announce grand openings, introduce new menu items, distribute special offers and encourage people to visit the establishment.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Tonight I got to be a part of my first TasteCasting at Echo located in Hyde Park. Nestled within the Hyde Park Square it is more than your run of the mill restaurant, its a local landmark. Opened in 1945 by Louise Schwartz, this place was set up to cater to a predominate blue collar crowd. By offering home cooked meals it has built a great local reputation for great affordable food.

As I sat down I was immediately greeted by Angie, our server for the evening, with two great starters. One was the Party Caesar Salad and the other one was Bite size Crab Cakes. Both of these items are available on their Catering menu. If you are interested in letting Echo Cater your event. They will work with you in creating the perfect menu for your event. Just give Stephanie a call at The Echo (513-321-2816) to discuss all of the possibilities!

As I finished my appetizers I was able to just look around and take in the the charm and the history of the Echo. In this day of mid-size cookie cutter restaurants its nice to know the Echo is still around. The place you can go and meet the locals and have a cup of coffee and just know you belong no matter what. In a restaurant that is a good feeling to have and enjoy.

Well lets talk about the food. So we got a tasting menu and so upon looking at it we couldn't decide what to get so we just ordered one of everything. This is a dream for me. Because if I was able to do this at every place I ate I would. One of the items on the menu I just had to taste first was their Gazpacho. It was exactly what I expected cold, crisp and refreshing. It was nice to see the attention to detail given to the vegetables and how they were cut and served. This item is on their seasonal menu.

As soon as I finished about half of my soup the rest of the items we ordered starting showing up and quickly filling the tables. It was amazing seeing breakfast food along side turkey dinners and a Funky Chicken. Yeah, a Funky Chicken it was just of many items on the menu that were uniquely named. Which personally I love because I think it adds a bit more flavor to your experience. Besides with a name like that how can you go wrong right. Along with the Funky chicken we also had a Flying Pig that was pretty much a Monte Cristo sandwich, but it was super good. Anytime you can put powered sugar on a sandwich all I can say is, " you had me at hello... you had me at hello." A few other items of note would have to be some of the breakfast items. One it in particular was the Belgium waffle. It was light airy and so absolutely delicious. Now I know why the Echo is so crowded on the weekends for breakfast. Although Breakfast isn't all they serve weekly. The Echo has a great selection of dinners that can make any tummy happy.

Although as you know all good things must come to an end. As Angie cleared the table and my stomach was digesting the awesome food I just had I had to ask myself just one question. Do I have room for pie? Of course I have room for pie. So a few minutes later Angie came walking in with some of the sexiest plates of pie I have seen in a long time. They were Chocolate Moose, Cherry, and my favorite Pumpkin. After a few bites I could instantly recognize that these were homemade with a special love only found in a place like the Echo. From the moist flaky crust to the homemade whipped cream on top of each slice of pie we had, it was a great ending to a wonderful evening.

If you are looking for a home cooked meal at affordable prices with a bunch of love cooked in, please stop by the Echo. You will not be let down.

Check Echo out on the web:



Monday, September 14, 2009

Gone Green

Welcome to the new look of Yes I have gone green, well my blog has at least. As a new student at the Midwest Culinary Institute I have decided to take make this blog a more food centric place. I plan on blogging about the ups and downs of a culinary student. Also as a newly accepted member of the Cincinnati Tastecasters, I plan on blogging about all the tri-state menus I am going to sampling in the coming weeks.

Join me, lets learn this food thing together and let the food do the talking!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Food Porn

Hey sorry for the absence but things have been hectic. While you wait for me to get my act together please enjoy one of my favorite stand-up guys, Jim Gaffigan, talk about food.

BTW... look for a re-designed website very soon.