Dining » Dining Lead

Chefs shuffle kitchens at Cleveland restaurants



Like napkins at a picnic, chefs are always on the move, making Keeping Up With the Kitchen a favorite game among foodies. Here are some changes you may have missed:

At Lolita, longtime Michael Symon protégé Matt Harlan continues to wear the top toque. But these days, his right-hand man is Andy Strizak, the former executive chef at Parker's New American Bistro and a leading advocate of fresh, sustainable, and locally grown food.

A Johnson & Wales grad, Strizak's list of former employers includes Pier W, the former Fulton Bar & Grill (during Steve Parris' influential reign), and Fire on Shaker Square. Following Parker's closure at the end of 2006, Strizak helped out his gal pal, Heather Haviland, at Lucky's Café, and consulted with the Inn at Honey Run in Holmes County.

Meanwhile, Symon's other longtime sidekick, Frankie Rogers, left downtown's Lola in early March. Taking his place is Derek Clayton, a Detroit native who honed his chops under the tutelage of award-winning chef Takashi Yagihashi at Tribute, the equally award-winning restaurant in Farmington Hills. Clayton credits Takashi both for upping his game and introducing him to Symon. He's been part of the Lola team for the past two years.

Finally, Jason Brust has left Lopez Southwestern Food Club in Cleveland Heights. Stepping into his clogs is Ian Thompson, who recently served an eight-year stint in Denver, where he graduated from Johnson & Wales and served as executive chef at several high-end restaurants. Some major menu revisions are already underway at Lopez, aimed at streamlining the offerings and adding more seasonal twists.

All's silent at Hush: We've overheard several fellow foodies wonder aloud if Jonathon Sawyer's newly unveiled Greenhouse Tavern, scheduled to open this fall on East Fourth Street, will take the space originally slated for Hush and Hush Up, Michael Symon's intended clubs. Yes, it will. "We gave up the space to Jonathon," Symon confirms. "He loved it. And with everything else that's been going down (Iron Chef, Dinner: Impossible, and ROAST, in Detroit), we figured we should just stick to running restaurants."

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