He grows herbs on his downtown restaurant's rooftop. He rides his bike to work. He composts and recycles kitchen and dining room scraps up the wazoo. He's Jonathan Sawyer, Cleveland's greenest of green chefs.
Sawyer's first restaurant, The Greenhouse Tavern on East 4th Street, was also the first LEED-certified restaurant in Ohio.
Produce, protein and grains come from nearby, as does vinegar bottled in the basement of his century home. He's a young Turk of the Rustbelt Revival. Its mission? Yummy food, and an economic boost for local farmers, bakers and makers of all sorts.
After graduating from Strongsville High School in suburban Cleveland, Sawyer shoved off for the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh. He worked at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami, Charlie Palmer's Kitchen 22 in New York, and Lolita in Tremont under Chef Michael Symon before partnering in Ohio City's popular Bar Cento.
When he opened The Greenhouse Tavern in 2009, friends in bigger cities thought he was crazy. But Sawyer banked on Cleveland. Plus, his mom was here. (Ma Sawyer cooks for the entire staff every Saturday.)
No surprise to us, the risk paid off. Sawyer earned a James Beard Award nomination. Food & Wine magazine named Sawyer one of its "Best New Chefs" and Bon Appetit listed The Greenhouse Tavern as "A Best New Restaurant."