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When the James Beard Foundation named Salt+ chef and co-owner Jill Vedaa a 2018 semifinalist in the prestigious Best Chef in the Great Lakes region category, the honor represented something she's been working toward for decades.
Name a Cleveland restaurant — past or present — and, chances are, the Bay Village High School grad has worked or cooked there at some point.
Call this varied résumé a reflection of Vedaa's admirable work ethic, as well as her adventurous spirit and palate.
Growing up, the aspiring chef bonded with her mom via kitchen cooking sessions or meals out around town. After a stint at Cleveland State University, Vedaa found her niche in the local restaurant community at the pioneering Tremont eatery Bohemia — and hasn't looked back.
She cut her teeth at a number of now-shuttered eateries, worked alongside Chef Michael Symon at Lola, and was the executive sous chef at the beloved Flying Fig in Ohio City.
Since Salt+ opened in the former location of a Lakewood bar in summer 2016, its selection of flavorful small plates, as well as unique drinks and wine list, has drawn rave reviews.
The restaurant's vegetable, meat and fish dishes are meant to be shared, although you'd be forgiven if you scarf down delicacies such as smoked corn croquetas with bacon jam remoulade (or white bean puree, mashed olives and grilled bread) all by yourself.
Salt+'s cocktail menu also offers up singular libations. Each drink is named for a strong woman — a designation that's included Vedaa's mom and Salt+ co-owner Jessica Parkison's grandmothers — and created using inventive ingredients, such as house avocado orgeat and elderflower tonic.
Because Salt+'s menu is seasonal, and rotates approximately every 10 weeks, each visit is completely different. Going by Vedaa's background and personality, she wouldn't have it any other way.