Attracting diners to any establishment in restaurant-rich Cleveland is hard enough. But luring them out to an Airport Marriott? Now that takes talent of herculean proportions. Contradicting the old saw about "location, location, location," chef Ellis Cooley proves daily that if you make something delicious enough, people will come to devour it. Modern, original, and laser-focused, the chef's take on contemporary American fare comes off not as contrived, but seductively approachable. Built of local, seasonal goodness, delectable items like velvet mushroom soup, braised rabbit and wilted greens, and seared scallops with pea shoots, pickled ramps, and coconut cream have diners heading out to Hopkins with or without travel plans. Going above and beyond the call of his chefly duties, Cooley recently added a sizable vegetable garden to his hotel's urban plot, just so he can stuff fresh-picked squash blossoms with homemade green-tomato jam. For those reasons — and many, many more — Ellis Cooley is most deserving of this crown.
4277 West 150th St., Cleveland, 216-706-8787, amp150.com