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Columbus named a ‘secret foodie city’ by ‘Forbes’ Travel Guide

Jeni Britton Bauer, owner of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, which was mentioned by Forbes Travel Guide correspondent Claire Gibson in her article ‘Five Secret Foodie Cities.’ Credit: Lantern file photo

Jeni Britton Bauer, owner of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, which was mentioned by ‘Forbes’ Travel Guide correspondent Claire Gibson in her article ‘Five Secret Foodie Cities.’
Credit: Lantern file photo

For Ohio State students with a passion for food, Columbus might just be the perfect city.

Columbus was recognized for its eating establishments in “Forbes” Travel Guide’s “Five Secret Foodie Cities,” an article that also highlighted Minneapolis, Little Rock, Ark., Asheville, N.C., and Boulder, Colo.

Claire Gibson, the Forbes Travel Guide correspondent who wrote the story, described a “foodie city” as a place that “has its own identity when it comes to food.”

The five cities that made the list were places Gibson had previously visited.

“I decided that it would be best to include cities where I had actually tasted the food and enjoyed where I’d been,” Gibson said.

In the feature, Gibson mentioned the Short North Arts District, highlighting four locations: Cameron Mitchell’s The Pearl, North Market, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Rigsby’s Kitchen.

Ian Rough, regional chef for Cameron Mitchell’s restaurants, said he was not only happy to see The Pearl gain recognition, but the food industry in Columbus as a whole.

“I’ve lived here my whole life and to see the restaurant industry kind of grow in this area has been amazing…The city is really becoming well-known for food and is kind of driving some of the popularity and some reason for people to travel here. And that ultimately is a great thing,” Rough said.

Some at North Market were pleased to be highlighted, as well.

“All of us at North Market are honored to have (been) mentioned in Forbes,” Rick Harrison Wolfe, executive director for North Market, said in an email. “We strive to be ‘best in class’ in Columbus.”

Representatives from Rigsby’s Kitchen did not return multiple requests for comment.

When writing the story, Gibson said what stood out to her about the restaurants in Columbus was the local atmosphere.

“(I) just enjoyed the feeling that there weren’t many things in that area that were corporate, large-scale restaurant groups that were kind of imposing,” Gibson said. “It really felt like a local place that people could just use their own creative ideas with their restaurants.”

Some OSU students agreed with Gibson’s decision to include Columbus in her list.

Dana Podell, a second-year in dance, said she believes Columbus was recognized as a foodie city because it is becoming a popular spot for new restaurants.

“I feel like companies try a lot of things out in like a smaller city before they go to cities like New York and Chicago, and you’re getting a lot of different types of people in Ohio,” Podell said.

Mike Lemon, a third-year in industrial design, said he felt the city’s culture plays a large role.

“I think it kind of goes hand in hand with how Columbus seems to cultivate the arts, like the Short North … (and that) people want different options and are willing to try new things,” Lemon said.

James Beard Award winner Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, a Columbus-based company recognized for using largely natural and local ingredients, expressed a similar opinion.

“Just being in the center of Ohio, using ingredients found in Ohio, working with these farmers, feels like we are totally born and raised by the community of Columbus,” Bauer said. “I feel very proud to be among those listed.”

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