Best Chef

Rocco Whalen, Fahrenheit

Mentor native Rocco Whalen left Northeast Ohio to study at the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, then pestered his way into prestigious gigs at Ÿber-chef Wolfgang Puck's ObaChine in Phoenix, Granita in Malibu, and Spago in Las Vegas. He returned to launch one of our city's finest restaurants: Fahrenheit. It's no exaggeration to say that the entire country has since taken notice of 28-year-old Whalen's sassy, sexy, yet beautifully disciplined style. Both Gourmet and Esquire featured the chef and his restaurant in 2002; and in 2004, Whalen was picked as a "rising star" by national trade mag Restaurant Hospitality. Today, he continues to turn up the heat at Fahrenheit, with seasonal menus filled with such dishes as rare beef "summer rolls," gourmet portobello pizza, and slow-braised Kobe beef short ribs. He also presides over some of the region's most elegant wine dinners and contributes his time and amazing talents to fund-raising for anti-hunger programs like Share Our Strength. A talented chef, a successful restaurateur, and a fine human being, Whalen has certainly earned his spot among the best this city has to offer.