From Farm to Plate: Jonathon Sawyer has Built a Successful Restaurant by Going Green

Jonathon Sawyer is a popular name in the culinary world, not just in Cleveland but nationally. Having worked under Michael Symon before venturing out on his own, Sawyer was named one of the best new chefs in Food & Wine magazine in 2010. He also competed in the Iron Chef America earlier this year.

However, Sawyer's most passionate project, and the highlight of his career to date, is the Greenhouse Tavern. It's been a perfect venue for the rise of the organic movement over the past few years. As more and more people have become interested in where the food they're eating comes from, and how it gets to their dinner table, Sawyer has provided an appetizing answer at his restaurant: It's all organic and Cleveland-grown.

A firm believer in the "farm-to-plate" movement, as many call it, Sawyer opened the Greenhouse Tavern almost four years ago with the green initiative deeply embedded in its ethos. Active in the local Slow Food Convinium and the Cuyahoga Valley Conservation Society, Sawyer based the restaurant on two principles: "the idea that the proximity of the farm and soil to a restaurant correlates to the quality of its food, and that environmentally conscious or green business practices are fundamental."

But that hasn't restricted the Greenhouse menu to vegetarians; it caters to all types of diets, from vegan to meat-eaters. Sawyer puts the menu together with his chef/partner Brian Goodman and pastry chef Matt Danko, and changes it every week "in order to keep it fresh for our customers."

And while some items, like the whole roasted pig's head, are bound to make your jaw drop, many are simple and approachable. "We like to take recipes that people take for granted, and transcend them by getting good ingredients and executing them extremely well," Sawyer says.

He also takes pride in the fact that his restaurant contributes a lot to Cleveland farms, noting, "When people spend money here, more of that money is going back to the local economy and agronomy than any other place in the city."