A Cooking Lesson with “Best New Chef” Jonathon Sawyer

It’s not everyday that one gets to learn cooking techniques from one of the country’s “Best New Chefs,” but in Aspen, it’s a typical Saturday morning. The Chefs Club at the St. Regis is a concept restaurant for Food & Wine magazine’s select list of America’s most promising talent, and every month one of those men or women visits the Rocky Mountains for a series of dinners and a cooking demonstration.

Jonathon Sawyer

Last week, Jonathon Sawyer stopped by. The Clevelander was named named a “Best New Chef” in 2010, and is known for his restaurant, The Greenhouse Tavern, which uses only local or house-made products and emphasizes green business practices.

“We want customers to know we cooked everything with our hands,” he said, while paring down an artichoke. “We want them to feel like they’re eating in someone’s home, so we want things to be misshapen.”

That means also hoping for sediment at the bottom of his gourmet line of vinegars, called the Tavern Vinegar Company, or ravioli that has some character.

Jonathon Sawyer

Sawyer walked attendees through a menu of culinary treats: truffled popcorn, tajarin ai tartufi, Colorado lamb over black trumpet mushrooms and arugula salad and a popcorn pot du creme. Because the Ohio native likes to cook local, variations of corn are popular in his world. So are mushrooms, which he sometimes forages with his children. Also on that list are garlic and peaches, which are Ohio specialties, says Sawyer.

Inspired by his wife’s native homeland–the Dolomite region of Italy–Sawyer is set to open another restaurant in his budding empire. Along with ramen shop Noodlecat, he’ll debut Trentina in the near future. If the cuisine is anything like the fresh pasta with Oregon truffles that he made for guests in Aspen, it’s sure to be a success.