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Issue Date: May 2014 Issue

Chef's Salad

Steve Gleydura

There's something oddly Vin Diesel about our ultimate Cleveland chef.

Maybe it's because the Fast & Furious actor and Michael Symon share the same strong jawline. Or maybe it's because Douglas Katz's intensity is a match for Diesel's movie-poster stare.

It could also be that stitching together facial features from five of Cleveland's best chefs creates a peculiarly attractive Frankenstein monster (sorry, Vin) — who also happens to be damn skilled with a knife. Add in Rocco Whalen's heart, Heather Haviland's hands, Karen Small's arms and a pinch of a few others, and our recipe for the ultimate chef looks pretty good.

In fact, narrowing it down to 11 characteristics was pretty tough.

We have an abundance of amazing chefs doing creative things all over town — and that includes the suburbs, where you'll find this year's Silver Spoon Award winner for best new restaurant, Cork and Cleaver Social Kitchen. Headed by Adam Bostwick and Brian Okin, the menu offers a blend of whimsy and tradition.

"There's no definition of what we're doing," Okin tells managing editor Kim Schneider in her sit-down with the brothers-in-law and partners. One look at their cucumber watermelon gazpacho and seared ahi tuna on our cover and you'll understand that.

In addition to asking readers about their favorite chefs, restaurants and specialty food shops for our Silver Spoon Awards as we have for more than 20 years, we also decided to let the chefs have a turn. In a brief, anonymous online survey, we asked for their opinions on this year's best new restaurant (they picked Toast in the Gordon Square Arts District, followed by El Carnicero and Cork and Cleaver Social Kitchen), most underrated restaurant (The Black Pig, Flying Fig and SoHo Kitchen and Bar), and more.

The pros picked Zack Bruell's L'Albatros Brasserie and Bar as the city's best restaurant (followed by Dante and Lolita) and Dante Boccuzzi as the most admired chef (Karen Small and Bruell fill out the other top spots). More results can be found in our Silver Spoons package, with the complete survey online.

Finally, when asked about the quality of our dining scene, 46 percent rate us "very good" compared to other cities. "Top 10 in the U.S., I think," says one. Adds another: "We have some of the best chefs in the country all smashed into a small region!"

And if anyone would care to make a movie about them, we've got an actor already in mind.

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