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THE FOOD CHALLENGE

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By Brian Schropp

BRIAN SCHROPP ON CUISINE

“There’s gotta be something, Bri.”

Scott was starring off into space while absently tapping the buttons on the pizza sauce stained adding machine. I sat in the other (and not as nice) chair in his office swiveling in a semi-circle trying to shake the ideas out of my mind. The 43rd Annual Lankville Food Challenge was coming up in a few weeks and the qualifying round for our area in Deep Suburban Lankville was just a few days out. For some reason Scott got it in his mind that we needed to enter something not only to help make a name for the ‘Pizza-A-Round’ but also that it could be a stepping stone for him to do something greater. “I always thought there was a dream in the stars for me,” Scott remarked not so long ago in a drunken rant while driving me home. “This pizza trade has kept me down for too long- you can only cry in the sauce so long before you realize it’s your own fault.” From the lights of the passing lampposts I could see the tears start to well up in his eyes while the music from the local hard rock station, 103.5 ‘The Hammer’ played in the background.

Picture of my manager Scott relaxing at home.

Picture of my manager Scott relaxing at home.

If this was going to be Scott’s big break then we had some pretty stiff competition to beat just in the first round alone. ‘Sir Frank’s Medieval Theme Park’ was planning on entering their illustrious ‘Crown of Frankfurters’ and everyone in the area thought it was pretty unbeatable. Sure, there was only one actual crown now and it was in a plastic lucite case (please see my thrilling ‘Blood On the Crown’ articles from a few weeks ago for details) but thousands still flocked the theme park each week to gaze at its beauty. The ‘Mid-Morning Snack Pizza’ and ‘The Pizza Eggwich’, two personal inventions of mine from this year, were blockbusters for the pizza world but to win the actual Lankville Food Challenge it was going to take something more. And the ‘Lankville O’s Gelatin Dinner Time Surprise’ now had that warning- oh yeah I need to put the warning up:

You can only eat small amounts of my ‘Lankville O’s Gelatin Dinner Time Surprise’ in one sitting no matter what type of glue you use. It is now recommended to wait 48 to 72 hours after having one slice before having another. There is also a caution for pregnant women and children under 12 not to eat any at all.

Earlier in the day Scott had assembled a bunch of the pizza staff (Chet Cameron, Big James, Charlie ‘The Nugget Guy’ to name a few) into the office to have a ’round robin’ of sorts to see what ideas we could come up with. One by one he tossed them out (sometimes actually physically tossing them out) when they had no ideas or the idea wasn’t any good (like Big James just wanting to pour nacho cheese on every sub idea). As the hours ticked by the only one left was me.

​

The Crown of Frankfurthers- was it beatable?

“There’s gotta be something!!” he exclaimed again this time pounding the adding machine making it fly into the air. Naturally I was swiveling my chair right in that direction and with comical timing the adding machine smacked me right in the forehead. I hit the grody floor like a ton of bricks. I am not sure how long I was out but it had to be for a good moment. I remember Scott’s whiskey breath asking me if I was alright while shaking me. After getting up and staring at him, I had the winning food idea in my mind!! I grabbed a pizza sauce-stained pad of paper and quickly wrote out the recipe. I had no time to worry about his reaction it was happening all so fast. Scott snatched the paper and after looking it over the biggest smile appeared on his face. “Such a fuckin’ genius,” he muttered.

The ‘Pizza-A-Round’ was supposed to be open for another hour but Scott kicked everybody else out and turned off the phones, even my ‘cleaning team’ was sent home with a lot of washing still to be done. The place was now quiet for us to focus on making this new incredible food idea come to life. There were a few things Scott had to run out to the 24 hour convenience store to get– luckily most everything we needed we had in our freezers.

The process was a real trial and error affair with a rough start. Scott had his doubts and at one point complained, “Bri, this is so—-complex—can it even be done?” I did worry slightly, an idea that is so far ahead of its time can seem overwhelming but I was in my ‘Schropp Zone’ and felt anything was possible.

​Could my new idea win the Lankville Food Challenge?

​Could my new idea win the Lankville Food Challenge?

By the early morning I was taking the final creation out of the pizza oven. I had burnt my other attempts to a crisp, it was hard to judge the cooking times in such an oven. I learned you had to microwave most of the components first to warm them up. Unwrapping the foil and inhaling the aroma we knew we had a shot. “What are you going to call it?” he asked while grabbing a plastic spoon to sample. I didn’t tell Scott this but the name was the first thing in my mind with everything else following. It was long and described it perfectly. “It’s called-‘Deep Northern Meat Bits Dinner Loaf Topped With Sweet Southern Lankville BBQ Sauce in A Green and Yellow Butter Sauce.”

The first time Scott attempted to scoop a piece out, the plastic spoon broke. Getting a metal one and successfully scooping a bite he nodded his head. “Very good! Very good, Bri. We need to work on the presentation a little and it looks like the middle is still really raw but it’s a winner for sure. Shaping meat bits into a loaf is enough to rock any food judge off his feet then following that with the taste of the sweet BBQ sauce and all that butter. I mean that’s a shit ton of butter in there, I think we have a shot!”

I was happy Scott thought the final product was worthy. If this could help him break the ‘pizza chains’ that held him I was willing to give my all. I think he a great (but very misunderstood by most) manager. I will keep you updated dear readers on the results of this exciting new entry into the food challenge!! Until then please keep your minds and mouths open to new ideas, Happy Eating!!-Bri

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