Father, chef, urban farmer, vinegar vintner, and sustainable “sourcerer”, Chef Jonathon Sawyer is a Cleveland devotee and James Beard award winning chef. Chef Sawyer’s flagship restaurant is The Greenhouse Tavern and his culinary empire includes Trentina, Noodlecat, Sawyer’s Street Frites, and more. Chef Sawyer’s passion for his family, local food, and craft is fully reflected in his “Noodle Kids” cookbook focused on globally inspired recipes that the family can prepare together.

Chef Jonathon Sawyer’s #8isEnoughQuestions interview is part of our Farm to Family Food Chain series with farmers, chefs, retailers, and more. Previous Farm to Family Food Chain interviews have included Chef Justin WarnerMolly Kroiz of Georges Mill Farm Artisan Cheese, “Cooking Priest” Father Leo PatalinghugChef Fabio VivianiChef Marc Murphy and Jesse Straight from Whiffletree Farm. For this 8isEnoughQuestions interview, each question was written and asked by one of our Full Van Fun family members and answered directly by Chef Jonathon Sawyer.

1. When cooking at home, do you find that you need to adjust the way you season compared to your restaurant?

No, I tend to season the same at home as I do in my restaurants. However, my daughter doesn’t like spicy food, so if something is too spicy I’ll tone down the spice to her liking.

2. What is your favorite dish for each season?

Tomato sandwiches for the summer and ramp pizza for the spring. hearty soups for the winter. anything cooked with foraged items for fall, like mushroom dishes.

3. What is the hardest part about being a farm-to-table restaurant in a big city?

There’s not really a hard part of being farm-to-table in Cleveland. We have some really great farmers in the Cuyahoga valley. Citrus is more of a challenge, however, so we often replace the acid from citrus with the acid from our house made vinegar.

4. What variety of squash do you prefer and how do you like to prepare it?

I love kabocha squash.

Duck and Squash Pasta
1 small kabocha squash (sub Hubbard if unable to find)
1# butter
2 Sprig sage
1 pinch nutmeg
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 stick cinnamon
2 c heavy cream
2 Tbs duck skin (sub chicken skin if duck is unavailable)
1 Tbs diced bacon
1c brodo or duck stock
1 package garganelle pasta

Purchasing and Prep
1. Peel and cube squash, be sure to remove seeds and pulp
2. Place pot of salted water on stove, bring to boil.
3. In large sauté pan, place ¾# butter and add cubed squash
4. One squash begins to soften, add sage, nutmeg and cinnamon.
5. Let butter and squash brown, once squash begins to fall apart add heavy cream
6. Puree in blender and set aside
7. In a medium sauté pan, place a tablespoon of butter, and add duck skin and bacon. Let render out until crispy and golden brown
8. Add sage to pan, let crisp.. in the mean time drop garganelle in boiling pot of water, let cook until al dente.
9. Take squash puree and fold in 2 tbs to duck skin
10. Add brodo or duck stock to squash and duck skin, taste and season
11. Once garganelle is cooked, combine with sauce, let sauce and noodle get to know eachother over medium head for a minute.
12. Toss thoroughly and eat!

This recipe is the property of Chef Jonathon Sawyer

5. What tips would you give someone who wants to “Eat Local” but they may live in smaller/rural areas with less access to a variety of local options?

Jump online and search for local farms in your area.

6. Do you make pumpkin pie?

Currently making it with my daughter right now!

7. What age should you be when you first use a knife in the kitchen?

My son started when he was four. With proper training and technique, kids are quick learners.

8. Can you wipe my hands off?

Sure, sweetie.

Thank you Chef Jonathon Sawyer for a fall inspired #8isEnoughQuestions interview. Full Van Fun is all about families, parents and children together sharing farm to family food, epic travel, great music, and more. Whether it is stories about incredible destinations like Congaree National Park, interviews with entertainers like musician and comedian Mike Phirman, or recipes like our Italian Meatballs, be sure to sign up for our mailing list and Follow Us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest so you don’t miss anything!

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Feature photo credit Amelia Sawyer used with permission.