Food fans across the country got to know Chris Hodgson as he logged 3,500 miles in his Hodge Podge food truck on Food Network's "The Great Food Truck Race." With the help of his girlfriend (now wife) and sister, Hodgson won second place in 2011 thanks to his whimsical menu and boy-next-door charm.
Cleveland foodies met Hodgson the year before through his first food truck, Dim and Den Sum. When they spotted the rolling kitchen, a big red octopus with fangs spray-painted on its side, they knew fancy fish tacos were close at hand.
Hodgson developed the idea for his truck after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu and living in New York City, where food trucks were already common. Clevelanders liked gourmet food more than ever, he thought. And they liked cheaper prices, too.
When Dim and Den Sum opened, customers flocked to the truck, but so did controversy over competition to brick and mortar restaurants. Hodgson worked with the city to create special food truck legislation.
In 2012, he joined partner Chef Scott Kuhn to open his first restaurant without an odometer, Hodge's in Gateway. Upscale, but playful, the restaurant serves drinks in Mason jars and corndogs filled with lobster. (Our fave? The PBLT...try it.)
In 2013, Hodgson returned to the Food Network as a finalist on the reality show "Food Network Star."
Since then he's been spreading his star dust around Northeast Ohio as a consulting chef and partner in the Driftwood restaurant and catering group.