Less than a year ago, all Richard Gore knew about Columbus is that it was a dot on the map and probably in Ohio.
As he finalized locations for his project, Flavored Nation, the dot suddenly enlarged, drawing his attention to the center of the Buckeye State.
After Jan. 1, he visited the capital city, ate his way around and contacted Experience Columbus, in effect, the region’s largest cheerleader.
With the persuasion of Experience Columbus and insistence of local chef Bill Glover of Gallerie Bar & Bistro at the Hilton Columbus Downtown, Gore finally saw Columbus as a bull’s-eye: Flavored Nation’s inaugural event had found its home.
“I wanted to bring a very high-profile food event to a place that wasn’t used to having a high-profile food event,” said Gore, who lives in New York City.
Flavored Nation, which will feature 50 iconic dishes from each state, is scheduled Saturday, Aug. 11, and Sunday, Aug. 12, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, 400 N. High St.
Gore has rounded up 13 local chefs and 37 chefs from around the country to participate in the inaugural event, slated 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
“I thought it would be a really cool idea to introduce them to America,” he said. “The food is the star – period.”
David Rosengarten, who won a James Beard Foundation award for one of his cookbooks, is a New York City-based writer who helped put together Flavored Nation.
Rosengarten had previously worked with Gore, who was in charge of creating live shows at the Food Network.
They hadn’t been in contact for roughly 15 years until Gore contacted Rosengarten in 2016 with a rough idea of what would become Flavored Nation.
Flavored Nation is an event of GateHouse Media, the parent company of Dispatch Media Group, which includes ThisWeek and The Columbus Dispatch.
Rosengarten, who also is a food, wine and travel writer and TV personality, loved the idea of an event that compared iconic dishes.
“First of all, Rich encourages that kind of debate,” Rosengarten said. “People are vociferous about it.”
Some Ohioans, in fact, had several different opinions on what constituted the state’s best food representative, from Cincinnati-style chili to Lake Erie fried fish.
The plan is to hold more Flavored Nation events in different cities, using different signature dishes.
“We’ll keep going until we run out of food,” Rosengarten said.