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Jonathon Sawyer

Chef Jonathon Sawyer
Photo © Billy Delfs.

Born: 1980. Raised: Strongsville, Ohio.

Education: Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, Pittsburgh.

Experience: Biltmore Hotel, Miami; Kitchen 22, New York City; Lolita, Cleveland.

First cooking job: The Mad Cactus, in Strongsville, when he was a teenager. "I fried six garbage cans of tortilla chips every day and rolled cornflakes around ice cream for french-fried ice cream."

Ingredient obsession: Vinegar. "I currently have nine kinds that are fermenting, from straight red wine to one with late-harvest Riesling. On top of that, there are five kinds that we're finishing in new-American-oak barrels."

What he does with his kids: Forage. "We get a good majority of our springtime produce from foraging: wild watercress, shiitake, oyster mushrooms, ramps, garlic mustards. Those mustards are a big deal here in Ohio: They're an invasive species, so we're encouraged to pull them from the metro parks. The community does a festival every year called the Pestival, and it's all about the garlic mustards."

Favorite cheap eat: Superior Pho in Cleveland. "The broth is unbelievable, and they grow their own bean sprouts."

After-hours hangout: La Cave du Vin, a beer-and-wine bar in Cleveland Heights. "It's near our house. The owner has the same Chave vice I do. I'll bring a bottle, he'll bring a bottle, and then it will be 4:30 before we know it."

Favorite cookbooks: The Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers ("My dog, Potato, ate half of the front cover"); The UK version of Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson.

18 recipes by Chef Jonathon Sawyer
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