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On Christmas Day, Jonathon Sawyer can usually count on three things: At least 55 people will show up to dinner; his mother will cook the turkey; and Aunt Geraldine will bring the pie. But this year, the ritual won’t be the same. As Sawyer gets ready to launch Trentina, a Cleveland restaurant named for Trentino, the northern region of Italy that his wife’s family is from, he’s taking on more than his usual share of the cooking: The meal will be a sneak preview of Trentina’s menu, which will showcase the area’s creamy pastas, smoked fish and exquisite cheeses.
Sawyer won’t have to look far for his ingredients since Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley shares nearly the same latitude and growing seasons as Trentino, and they have similarly spectacular produce. “I’d take the Pepsi Challenge and pit Cleveland’s food against anywhere in the world,” he says.
- Jonathon Sawyer's Recipes for Omnivores
- A Star Chef’s Italian Christmas
- Scott Conant's Global Christmas Dinner
- Kevin Sbraga's Christmas Cookie Recipes
- Michael Mina's Luxurious Christmas Weekend
- Best New Chefs and Their Simplest Recipes
The boisterous chef has spent the past few years helping Cleveland’s food scene shed its underdog reputation. Sawyer is behind a half-dozen brilliant spots that are eclectic but all share, as he puts it, “my interpretation of the Cuyahoga Valley” and its diverse influences. They range from his flagship, The Greenhouse Tavern, a French-influenced bistro that earned him an F&W Best New Chef 2010 award, to the two Sawyer’s Street Frites stands he recently opened in Cleveland Browns Stadium.