Like many chefs on this list, Jonathon Sawyer got his start in the kitchen at an early age. His first restaurant job came at Mad Cactus in Strongsville as a dishwasher; of course, within 6 months, Jonathon was working as a line cook. Though he originally studied to be an industrial engineer, Jonathon soon realized that his passion was for cooking, not engineering; as a result, he returned to school, this time at the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts. Upon graduation, Jonathon moved to Miami to work at the Biltmore Hotel, and in 2002, he started work at New York City’s Kitchen 22.
Jonathon’s first endeavor heading up a kitchen came at Michael Symon’s Parea, which received a two-star review from the New York Times and five stars from TimeOut New York magazine. Returning to his native Midwest, Jonathon opened Bar Cento in Ohio City in 2007, and in 2008, he opened the Greenhouse Tavern. Following on the success of those restaurants, Jonathon opened a few more locations: Noodlecat, Sawyer’s Street Frites, and Trentina, among others. Jonathon’s personal success has included a “Best New Chef” award from Food & Wine magazine in 2010, and a 2013 James Beard Foundation nomination for “Best Chef: Great Lakes.”
Jonathon has also made appearances on “Iron Chef America,” “Dinner Impossible,” “Unique Eats,” and “Best Thing I Ever Ate.”
Specialties & Resources
At The Greenhouse Tavern, the menu is termed “A Rustbelt Revolution.” Focusing largely on New American dishes, Jonathon endeavors to bring the coastal culinary style of foodie destinations like New York City and Los Angeles to the Midwest. Offerings include crispy cheese poofs with fried pimento cheese, sweet pickle remoulade & verbena; pumpkin salad with beetroot, crispy quinoa, cranberry, kale, pistachio crumb and spicy carrot vinaigrette; fried brussels sprouts with maple aioli, lemon, fresh mint & raw red onion; foie gras steamed clams with butter, red onion brulee, vinegar & grilled bread; rib cap carpaccio with gold rush apple, beef fat potatoes, aged cheese, horsey milk, egg botarga and chive blossom; eggplant meatballs with ohio tomatoes, sugar onion, sheep’s milk cheese and hand bread; Ohio hare ragu with house rigatoni, organic garlic, Flemish beer, sheep’s milk cheese & sage; and roasted pig head with barbecue sauce, raw vegetable salad, brioche and lime & lettuce cup.
At Noodlecat, Cleveland’s first ramen shop, offerings include pork miso with broth, roasted pork, crispy garlic, sesame, scallion and egg; dan dan with spicy garlic oil, roasted peanut, sweet soy, basil & thai Szechuan chili; beef short rib with pork dashi broth, and kimchi; spicy charred octopus with sesame chili, carrot, kohlrabi, jalapeno and cilantro; and chicken broth with poached chicken, dry corn, peas, chives & scallion.