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After graduating from Strongsville High School in suburban Cleveland, Chef Jonathon Sawyer headed for the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh. From there, 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.
Sawyer's first on-his-own restaurant, The Greenhouse Tavern on East 4th Street, was the first LEED-certified restaurant in Ohio. When it opened in 2009, friends in bigger cities thought he was crazy. But Sawyer banked on Cleveland. Plus, his mom was here. (Ma Sawyer cooked for the entire staff every Saturday.)
In 2015, Sawyer earned the high honor of "Best Chef: Great Lakes" by the James Beard Foundation — proving that the risk paid off. Other accolades included earning a spot as a "Best New Chef" by “Food & Wine” and a "Best New Restaurant" for the Greenhouse Tavern in “Bon Appetit.”
Throughout the years, he’s flexed his culinary talent in other formats including at a Japanese noodle house and an artsy eatery featuring northern Italian dishes.
While 2020 was a year of transition for Sawyer and ended an era for the Greenhouse Tavern, his talents continue to make their mark. Today, Sawyer’s influence is felt at several Cleveland locations including Sawyer's in the Van Aken District, Sawyer’s Sausage and Peppers at FirstEnergy Stadium, and the Greenhouse Kitchen at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Sawyer redefined what it meant to be green. (Hint: It never tasted so good!) Produce, protein and grains all came from nearby, as did the vinegar he once bottled in his basement (he has a self-professed obsession with vinegar, BTW).
Two of Sawyer’s fan favorite dishes that live throughout other properties are his famous takes on frites and wings. Fresh cut frites with gravy and confit chicken wings (which will, in one bite, make all other chicken wings inferior forever) serve as legacies of the eco-friendly, culinary genius of this homegrown, award-winning chef.