The Top 10 Chefs You Need To Know In Cleveland
New York may be a culinary mecca, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of food talent. As such, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight celebrity, notable, or otherwise up-and-coming chefs you should know about across the country.
Whether you’re taking a trip to Louisville and looking for a great place to eat (
Ed Lee’s restaurant, duh), or are a Charlottesville local who wants to know which chefs you can defend to the self-righteous hometown death (particularly if they secure a spot on Top Chef or Chopped), we’re here to give you the heads up on which chefs you need to know in your city — and why.
This week’s edition?
Top 10 Chefs You Should Know: Cleveland. Certain hometown are the first to admit there’s just a touch of chain restaurant addiction plaguing The Cleve, and perhaps more than a touch of general, area-wide kvetching about how much “downtown” “fine dining” costs. For the uninitiated of the Cleveland food scene, start forking over your hard-earned cash at these chefs’ restaurants. For those of you who already know and love these guys, brush your shoulders off. James Beard Award-winning authors
Charlie Palmer names you one of the nation's five culinary masters in The Robb Report, you've done Cleveland proud. Said Charlie to Chef Dante Boccuzzi, "You’ve gone back to the city where you grew up, and that in itself is an example of the future of food in this country: chefs going back to their roots. What you’re doing in Cleveland will grow, and people in Cleveland will understand you’re bringing something special to them."
Groomed under Palmer, Nobu, and three-Michelin starred Italian chef Gualtiero Marchesi, Boccuzzi now runs his own restaurant group in Cleveland, which includes the restaurants Dante and Ginko.
Photo: Peggy Turbett / The Plain Dealer
Executive Chef of
Fire in Cleveland, Doug Katz has hosted multiple James Beard Foundation dinners, and also landed a spot on Esquire Magazine's Best New Restaurants list in the 1990s. Then, the Wall Street Journal called him “the Alice Waters of Cleveland," which, frankly, is accolade enough for us.
James Beard Award-nominated Eric Williams runs the show at "mod Mex" dining establishment Momocho, and he has awesome tattoos. Which makes him a great candidate to also be featured on Triple D and Unique Eats, natch!
Photo: Thomas- Ondrey / The Plain Dealer
Picking up the reins from Doug Katz at
Moxie was chef Jonathan Bennett, who can also be found cooking at Red Steakhouse. He, too, has hosted James Beard Foundation dinners and occasionally been complimented by John Mariani, which is more than we can say for this guy.
Food & Wine Magazine Best New Chefs pick, Jonathon Sawyer is way ahead of what we gather is the culinary curve in Cleveland -- he forages with his kids (who are named Catcher and Louisiana)! Via a New York City detour, Jonathon has worked under Michael Symon and Charlie Palmer, and is a GAYOT-nominated Rising Star Chef.
His restaurant Greenhouse Tavern has been named among Bon Appetit's Best New Restaurants, and he also owns gastropub Noodlecat .
fiiine, technically not a restaurant chef, but he's written cookbooks with Thomas Keller and Eric Ripert, appeared as a Next Iron Chef judge, is Anthony Bourdain's most love-hated frenemy, and co-hosted the Cleveland episode of No Reservations, which we think should count for something. Michael Ruhlman is need-to-know, Clevelanders.
The Cleve's hometown
Iron Chef, James Beard Award-winner, host of The Chew, and general Ohio Messiah credited with saving the Downtown Cleveland food scene: ladies and gentleman, it's Michael Symon. He's Greek, he's a die-hard Cleveland sports fan, he complains a lot about Cleveland sports, he's bald, he has a soul-patch and a nice wife named Liz, he's written a great book about pork... WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE? Hands-down, Cleveland's most charming resident, are we right? Check out his Cleveland temples Lola, Lolita, and The B Spot. They've been better received than his attempts New York openings. Oh my god, and he's the three-time winner of Burger Bash, how could we forget?! In conclusion, Michael Symon = Cleveland's protein dreamboat.
Paul Minnillo and Michael Symon go way back. He claims to have taught the Iron Chef how to cook before he made it to the big leagues. Plus, his son is the now General Manager at
The French Laundry, so we're pretty sure Paul's position as OG grand-daddy of the Cleveland restaurant scene is pretty imposing. You can find him at flour (formerly of Baricelli).
Photo: Lisa DeJong / The Plain Dealer
yes he was featured on weight-loss docu-series Fat Chef. But also, Rocco Whalen looks great, was named Chef to Keep Your Eye On by Esquire in 2003, and was nominated as a James Beard Rising Star in 2004. You can find him at Fahrenheit in Tremont, but he's also snagged himself a stand snuggled alongside one by Michael Symon and one by Jonathon Sawyer in the Cleveland Browns Stadium. So, you know... Sports chefs!
James Beard Award candidate for Best Chef 2010, Zack Bruell was the executive chef of Table 45, which landed on Esquire's Best New Restaurants list in 2007, and L’Albatros Brasserie & Bar, which landed on the list in 2009. Bonus: he worked at Michael's in Santa Monica, with Michael McCarty, back in the days when they would commute into work on . Jonathan Waxman's party bus