November 08, 2013 Slideshows » News, Blogs

Share on Facebook
Tweet
Submit to Reddit
Email

9 Local Chefs We're Proud to Say Belong to Cleveland 

Jill Vedaa: Rockefeller's

In the early 20th century, John D. Rockefeller became the world's richest man by being a ruthless competitor who never settled on second place. In the kitchen of Rockefeller's restaurant, located in a building once owned by that famed industrialist, executive chef Jill Vedaa seems to be channeling some of that self-assured behavior. "I am super-competitive," admits Vedaa. The chef recalls how her mother made cooking fun by blending the work with music. "We would cook together and dance around the kitchen to Motown," she says. "I still love to blast some Aretha when I'm prepping." When they weren't toiling in the kitchen, they were out exploring the city's awakening restaurant scene. "I remember having a burger and a chocolate Coke at Heck's Café," she recalls. "It just felt like a different world." MORE>>

Ricardo Sandoval: Fat Cats, Lava Lounge, and Felice Urban Café

Some of the most admirable culinary trailblazers happen to be those you don't read about every day in the press. While some "celebrity chefs" are busy promoting themselves to anybody who will listen, others simply put their heads down and do the hard work of running a business. Success for these people isn't a reality food show, product endorsement or spread in a glossy magazine: It's satisfied customers. Ricardo Sandoval is one such trailblazer. The serial restaurateur is behind three popular and unique restaurant concepts on opposite ends of town: Fat Cats, Lava Lounge, and Felice Urban Café. And lest you believe that he's simply a figurehead, Sandoval reminds us, "I am the owner, chef and entrepreneur all in one." MORE>>

Becca Ritterspach: Luxe and Great Lakes Brewing Company

This Sugar Queen's story begins in Medina, where the young Ritterspach grew up the middle child between two brothers, making her the quintessential tomboy. With most of her grandparents, aunts and uncles all living just a few houses away, Ritterspach learned family values and hard work at an early age. "Literally and figuratively, we're a very close family." Her youth is also when she developed many of the food memories that stay with her to this day. "I know that I will never ever make a pie as good as my mom. I've accepted that. And my Grandma Ritterspach has the most amazing recipe for soft chocolate cookies. It's a recipe I still use to this day." Ritterspach graduated from Ohio State University with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in disability studies. Despite the degree and an aptitude for the work, Ritterspach knew that she was destined to pursue another path. "I have always been so drawn to the aesthetics of the pastry world," she says. MORE>>

Lindsey Auten: Crop Bistro

You might not have heard of her, but Lindsey Auten is a rising star pastry chef. Even if you haven’t heard of her, you likely have consumed one of her decadent desserts at Crop Bistro (2537 Lorain Ave., 216-696-2767, cropbistro.com) in Ohio City, where she's been for two years. But the road to Crop wasn’t as well defined as a cake recipe. The 25-year-old Middleburg Heights native was unsure of her future after graduating from Olmsted Falls High School. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I didn’t want to spend the next four to six years — and thousands of dollars — trying to figure it out,” she says. Upon graduation she jumped into the massage world, attaining her massage therapy license. But that wasn’t the answer. After some soul searching, Auten decided to focus on her passion for cooking, which led her to Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. After graduating with honors in 2010, Auten turned her externship at the popular A Cookie and a Cupcake in Tremont into a full-time pastry assistant position. MORE>>

Bridget McGinty- Tastebuds

"I didn't see my dream job, so I had to invent it," smiles Bridget McGinty, the owner and chef behind the popular Tastebuds restaurant (1400 East 30th St., 216-344-1770, tastebudsrestaurant.com) in Cleveland's St. Clair-Superior neighborhood. Born to a large working-class Irish Catholic family in Lakewood, McGinty was raised on a diet of meat, potatoes and Wonder Bread. After graduating from Erieview Catholic, McGinty knew that college was not in the cards. "It was not an option for me, so I decided to join the Army." Unfortunately, the Army's strict height and weight requirements became a hurdle and McGinty was rejected three times. That final rejection hit McGinty hard. Walking out of the Federal Building downtown one day, the 18-year-old stumbled into the newly built Galleria Mall to find work. "I found the courage and walked into the Ninth Street Grill," explains McGinty. "They hired me as a busser on the spot and changed my life forever." MORE>>

Andy Dombrowski: L'Albatros, Chinato, and Cowell & Hubbard

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past decade, you've likely heard of Zack Bruell and his successful restaurant empire, which now includes L'Albatros, Parallax, Chinato, Table 45 and Cowell & Hubbard. But Bruell understands that he is hardly a one-man show. Enter Andy Dombrowski, corporate chef of Bruell's ever-expanding restaurant group. A native Clevelander, Dombrowski is Bruell's secret weapon in the kitchen. At 12, Dombrowski would cook spaghetti and stir-fry for his family, inspired by cooking shows on TV. In high school, Dombrowski got his first taste of the hospitality biz by working at a local McDonald's. He later entered a vocational cooking program at Normandy High School, where a teacher noticed his passion and work ethic and recommended him for a summer job at Watermark Restaurant in the Flats. Working under executive chef Michele Gaw, Dombrowski started as a prep cook making more than 300 pierogies a day. "Andy was energetic, enthusiastic and a great addition to the team," recalls Gaw. "I knew he would be a great cook." MORE>>

Marc-Aurele Buholzer: Vero Pizza Napoletana

Chefs often put their own culinary stamp on pizza, but Marc-Aurele Buholzer of Vero Pizza Napoletana (12421 Cedar Rd., 216-229-8383, veroclevland.com) in Cleveland Heights chooses to go back in time and focus solely on making the most authentic Neapolitan-style pizza he can possibly make. Born in a village outside Geneva, Switzerland, Buholzer and his family immigrated to America when he was just a child. While growing up in Chardon, Buholzer struggled to find his path in life. But after enrolling in CSU and majoring in philosophy and religious studies, life began to come into focus. "Things were starting to make sense," he explains. "I realized I have to be fully connected to what I am doing." Buholzer has unknowingly been on his present career path for years. "I got my restaurant start as a busser at 16 for Valerio Iorio, owner of Valerio's in Little Italy," says Buholzer. When Iorio opened La Gelateria in 2002, Buholzer was right there with him. "This was the first gelateria in Cleveland. At that time, I didn't even know what gelato was, but people were flocking from all over Cleveland." MORE>>

Brad Ball: Lolita

When asked to describe his "chef behind the chef," Iron Chef Michael Symon doesn't mince words. "He has the best hands for charcuterie in Cleveland; as good as I have had in Italy," Symon boasts. "Brad is a tireless worker with an incredible thirst for knowledge." He's talking about Brad Ball, sous chef and charcuterie pro at Lolita in Tremont. Though he's been working there for the past two years, the 26-year-old chef's quest to become the best first began in the suburbs of Detroit. "I started my cooking career in a bar and catering facility called Bakers of Milford in Michigan," says Ball. "There, I learned about pressure, and I started to develop my cooking chops." While enrolled in the culinary arts program at Oakland Community College in Southfield, Mich., one of Ball's chef instructors suggested that he try to land a job at Five Lakes Grill. "He told me I needed to get in there," he recalls. "The chef was Brian Polcyn. He authored the book Charcuterie, The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing." MORE>>

Gary Lucarelli: Sweetwater Cafe, Cafe Sausalito, Players, and Tutto a Posto

For more than 40 years, Gary Lucarelli has been a pivotal player in the local restaurant scene. We have him to thank for helping make Cleveland a true dining destination, and for training some of our best local talent. The 69-year-old restaurateur was born in Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood, where his grandfather and father were the proprietors of a grocery store that bore their name. As an adolescent, Lucarelli spent time in St. Louis, and at the tender age of 12, he officially kicked off his restaurant career. "As a kid I worked every position: I was a wine steward before I was old enough to legally drink!" says Lucarelli. MORE>>

4/9
Lindsey Auten: Crop Bistro

You might not have heard of her, but Lindsey Auten is a rising star pastry chef. Even if you haven’t heard of her, you likely have consumed one of her decadent desserts at Crop Bistro (2537 Lorain Ave., 216-696-2767, cropbistro.com) in Ohio City, where she's been for two years. But the road to Crop wasn’t as well defined as a cake recipe. The 25-year-old Middleburg Heights native was unsure of her future after graduating from Olmsted Falls High School. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I didn’t want to spend the next four to six years — and thousands of dollars — trying to figure it out,” she says. Upon graduation she jumped into the massage world, attaining her massage therapy license. But that wasn’t the answer. After some soul searching, Auten decided to focus on her passion for cooking, which led her to Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. After graduating with honors in 2010, Auten turned her externship at the popular A Cookie and a Cupcake in Tremont into a full-time pastry assistant position. MORE>>

Play Slideshow

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Staff Pick Events

  • The Big Lebowski @ Cedar Lee

    • Sat., Dec. 3
  • A Fiber Affair @ Praxis Fiber Gallery

    • Sat., Dec. 3
  • Light Up Lakewood (Seasonal Special Happenings)

    • Sat., Dec. 3

Site Search

© 2016 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation