The nominations for the 2015 James Beard Awards — the Oscars of the restaurant world — have been announced. And for the fourth straight year, Cleveland chef Jonathon Sawyer is one of the five finalists in the “Best Chef: Great Lakes” category. The two prior years, 2010 and 2011, he was named a finalist in the “Rising Chef.”
Sawyer opened his first restaurant, the Greenhouse Tavern, in 2010, on East 4th Street, just as that street was about to take off. It quickly became a local favorite for serving creative dishes with fresh, seasonal ingredients in a casual atmosphere.
He subsequently opened Noodlecat around the corner on Euclid and the high-end Trentina in University Circle last year. He also provided specialty concessions at the Browns Stadium and Quicken Loans Arena during the Cavs current season. He’s also a vinegar buff who started the Tavern Vinegar Co. in his home to make distinctive vinegars for his restaurants and retail sale.
Sawyer will be competing against four chefs, all from the big culinary dog of the Midwest: Cook County, Illinois aka Chicagoland. And it’s hard to tell whether this bodes good or ill for Sawyer, but for the first time ever, the awards will be held (on Mon 5/4) outside New York City for the first time — at the Lyric Opera of Chicago House in downtown Chicago.