[imagesource: Michael Redmond/ MLR Images]
A pizza festival, especially somewhere like New York, famous for its pizza, shouldn’t be that tough to throw together.
The vendors are all there, and the people will obviously stop by (who doesn’t love pizza?) – it’s really hard to mess this up.
And yet, that’s what Ishmael Osekre, the organiser of the New York City Pizza Festival, managed to do.
That really is not a comparison you want to be made.
The problems with the New York City Pizza Festival began with the pizza. Slices were cut into comically miniature triangles, nowhere close to what Ishmael Osekre, the organizer, had promised. In Facebook ads he’d hyped stuff-your-face quantities of thin crust, served outdoors on a late-summer weekend in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood.
He’d set prices high, charging as much as $69 per person for VIP access, and recruited more than 1,100 ticket buyers for the pizza fest, as well as a simultaneous event, the New York City Burger Festival, which promised “mountains of french fries, oceans of ketchup, and waterfalls of beer.”
Ticket holder Timothy Seitz took his wife along to the pizza festival, only to find a long queue of hipsters along a barbwire fence waiting their turn for a slice.
As state investigators would later allege, Osekre had obtained only eight pies and a few boxes of sliders.
Witnesses confirm that there was little, if any, beer, and that the pizza was gross, if still technically pizza. “Like what you’d serve elementary schoolers,” Seitz says. He wondered aloud, “Did we just get scammed?”
The crowd obviously started getting angry, and Osekre tried to calm them down by saying that he’d ordered more pizza.
In the following days, complaints and ridicule for the Hobbit-size slices raged on social media. Internet sleuths soon discovered that Osekre had apparently promoted the same food festivals the prior year—without any location or ticket sales information—before postponing them.
They guessed it had all been part of a scheme allowing him to bolster the events’ Facebook following and legitimacy.
You can read more about this, and other scams that Osekre (yes, there were more) tried to pull off, here.
If the description of the pizza above hurt you like it hurt me, you can soothe your soul with some of the best pizza in Cape Town, because ALL Butler’s Pizza branches are once again open.
Order online, pop on a good movie, and crack open a cold one knowing that your order will be along shortly to bring it all together, because, unlike the New York City Pizza Festival, Butler’s actually delivers.
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