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.
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.
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.
I owe a big thank you to Positively Cleveland—thank you for hosting me and showing me your beautiful city! And if you’re thinking of planning a trip soon, think of Cleveland!