Pop-up series highlights sous chefs

Anthony Dominic, Crave

Columbus has seen a share of new pop-ups this year, from The Coop's brunch takeovers at Alana's Food & Wine to a recent one-off dinner from Challah at Seventh Son Brewing Co.

Thursday, Aug. 28, marked the inaugural pop-up for Here to Disrupt, a new culinary project aimed at showcasing creative fare from second- and third-tier Ohio chefs. In June, the team earned second place in the restaurant category at local culinary contest The Big Pitch, encouraging them to organize a series of pop-ups.

"Here to Disrupt is a platform for chefs who maybe don't always get to cook what they're most passionate about," says partner Travis Sims, a graduate student in hospitality management at Ohio State University. "It's about letting them have a day to run their own restaurant-and bringing something creative, something different, out of the norm."

The first pop-up, "Marvel: A Modern Take on California Cuisine," was held at the Explorers Club and prepared by partner Mo Marvel, who currently works in the kitchen at Mezzo Ristorante & Bar in Dublin. For the $35, four-course dinner, Marvel drew inspiration from his time in California while attending culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena.

The two-hour pop-up was as much a social event as a dinner-a goal of Here to Disrupt, says Sims-with about two dozen guests joined in one of Explorers Club's closed dining rooms.

Following a half-hour cocktail social, the first course was served: a light Ohio Heirloom Tomato Salad with mint, watermelon, whipped goat cheese and lemon vinaigrette. The second and third courses varied based on dietary preference. For meat eaters, Seared Scallop with fennel, basil and a tomato jam was followed by Berkshire pork confit from Millgate Farms in Jefferson. For vegetarians, the second course was an Ohio Heirloom Tomato Puttanesca with olives, tart caper berries and a rich salsa verde; and the third was braised mushrooms with corn, okra and cilantro in sweet pea butter. Finally, dessert was a deconstructed rhubarb pie with strawberry cream and whipped mascarpone.

Sims plans to host at least one pop-up per month, the next being a Southern, family-style brunch at Wild Goose Creative on the North Side. (Expect lots of fried chicken, he says.) Marvel will also be preparing the brunch, but Sims hopes to feature a new guest chef in October who will work alongside Marvel.

"We want to keep [the pop-ups] in Columbus, but we have a couple chefs from Cleveland, Cincinnati who want to come up, so we hope to announce that soon," he says.