Jeremy Esterly is so confident that Clevelanders are hungry for something new he's willing to wager his prime post at Fire Food and Drink. Chef de cuisine of that Shaker Square restaurant since 2006, Esterly soon will swap the relatively cushy confines of a commercial kitchen for an aging Chevy step van. Billed as a mobile gourmet food service, Dim and Den Sum (dimanddensum.com) is really a food cart on steroids. The fully outfitted rig boasts a grill, griddle, burners and fridge — and it will dispense gourmet fare wherever hungry (and, occasionally, drunk) people congregate. The cuisine will be Midwestern and Southern comfort foods with an Asian twist: Think ramen topped with fried chicken, pulled-pork Polish Girls with Asian slaw and Ohio beef burger with "kimcheechup." Many of the more complicated items will be prepared in a catering kitchen and finished in the truck to order. Likely lunch stops will include downtown, college campuses and weekly farmers markets. At night, look for the bistro buggy in party zones like West 25th Street, Tremont and the Warehouse District. While other metro areas boast food trucks dispensing dumplings, biryani, jerk chicken and all matter of righteous tacos, Cleveland, a so-called dining mecca, is left with ho-hum hot dogs. Esterly thinks that reality will soon change. "Cleveland has a really eclectic food scene, and people here seem receptive to unique food ideas," he says. "I think pretty soon we'll see a caravan of food trucks roaming the city." Esterly's partner in the project is Chris Hodgson, most recently of NYC's famed Spotted Pig. Look for the debut of Dim and Den Sum around April 12.
It would be tough to find bigger hearts than those of Jeff and Tammy Jarrett. In 2008, the couple adopted a visually impaired child from China, joining their three birth children. But the Jarretts didn't stop there. Plans are in the works to bring a blind infant from China, and the couple could use some help with the $25,000 fees. Luckily, Jeff is a chef at the North End Market (7542 Darrow Rd., Hudson, 330.656.1238, northendwinefoodfun.com), which means he has the full support of his generous colleagues. Join Cleveland's top chefs for a fundraiser on March 22, at the Cleveland Sight Center. Check out the lineup and make reservations at 330.353.4991 or clevelandchefscookingforjewel.com.