Cleveland Chefs and Farms

Last month, I had the privilege of touring Cleveland and visiting some of the city’s finest dining establishments and sustainable local farms. I had never been to Cleveland before and had very little preconceptions about the city, although I must admit that the Drew Carey Show’s theme song played in my head every time I thought of Cleveland (Cleveland rocks!). Thanks to our tour guides, the lovely ladies of Positively Cleveland, I now know that Drew was right—Cleveland rocks.

I was thoroughly impressed by the chefs and the farm owners we met with during the trip. Each expressed his or her sincere dedication to improving the city’s economy through the food industry, by using sustainable techniques that would benefit Cleveland’s inhabitants in both the short and the long term. Chefs partner with nearby farms to ensure that they can serve super fresh, high quality ingredients. They support each other, often in friendly competitions, in ways that challenge their culinary artistry and encourage the community to support local agriculture.

Chef Brandt Evans of Pura Vida

Ben Davison, the Sous Chef at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, took us on a tour of West Side Market.

We visited local farms, including Ohio City Farm, a nearly six-acre farm located near West Side Market, which employs refugees and grows produce for several local restaurants as well as the Great Lakes Brewing Company. After that, we headed to the Culinary Vegetable Institute and sampled hors d’oeuvres while learning more about Farmer Lee Jones’ philosophy. We toured greenhouses in The Chefs Garden, the leading grower of artisanal produce in the U.S.

We learned about Ohio City Farm, one of the largest contiguous urban farms in the U.S.

Behind the scarecrow are hops that are being grown for Great Lakes Brewing Company, which is featured on the right.

My first time to enter a greenhouse.

Farmer Lee Jones talked to us about the farm’s history and we watched workers plant rows of baby lettuce.

Gorgeous lettuce growing at The Chef’s Garden.

Chef Jamie prepared amazing vegetarian fare with ingredients fresh from the garden (including deep fried squash blossoms!).

Beautiful raw salad—I could eat that every day.

Claudio Salvador, owner of Firelands Winery, explained his wine making history and philosophy as we sampled wines.

Lastly, we sampled wine at Firelands Winery and later toured Great Lakes Brewing Company. All in all, it was a whirlwind trip full of vibrant produce, inventive dishes and inspiring dining experiences. I’m at a loss for words, really, which is why it’s taken me so long to share. I hope these photos explain the rest. They’re just a small sampling of the photos I took—you can view them all in my Cleveland photo album on Facebook.

You can also listen to Farmer Lee Jones talk about his farming philosophy on Ingredients, a great documentary that is available for instant streaming on Netflix.

Disclaimer: Positively Cleveland provided the travel and accommodations for this trip. Opinions expressed are my own.


  1. Kate King says

    my husband (then boyfriend) used to live in Cleveland for a year so I’d visit and go to the Great Lakes Brewery. This is so cool and sounds like you took away a lot from your visit.

  2. says

    The multi-color cauliflower salad looks heavenly. Do I see some type of creamy mustardy dressing going on in there? Looks so yum. Inspiring! I’m also wondering what the spiny white shavings are…cabbage? :) Intrigued.

  3. Clevelandchick says

    Thank you for writing about our local food and farm scene. The city of Cleveland approved both bee and chicken keeping a few years ago. I went on a garden tour this past summer in the Detroit Shoreway district, at least 5 houses of the 25 home tour had bees and chickens.

    For more information about the many urban farms, farmers markets and local food scene in our town go to It’s kind of like a Face Book for local foodies/farmers and gardeners.

  4. Grace says

    Awesome! This inspires me for your inevitable trip to Minneapolis! :D What an interesting way to explore a new city and community!

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