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on September 11, 2014 at 4:04 PM, updated September 15, 2014 at 11:04 AM


CLEVELAND, Ohio — Expect a touch of French flavor to make its way onto the menus of some of Northeast Ohio’s most prominent restaurants this fall.

Four popular chefs, plus a student from Tri-C Hospitality Management Centerand an apprentice from Edwins Restaurant on Shaker Square, are heading on a culinary mission to France next month. The trip will take them to Rouen – Cleveland’s “sister city” on the Seine River in France’s Upper Normandy region in the country’s northwest.

Adam Bostwick, chef-co-owner of Cork and Cleaver Social Kitchen in Broadview Heights; Courtney McLaren Bonning of Bonbon Pastry & Cafe in Cleveland’s Ohio City area; Jeff Jarrett, executive chef of AMP 150 at Cleveland Airport Marriott; and Brandt Evans, chef-co-owner of Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern in Twinsburg and Pura Vida restaurant on Cleveland’s Public Square, will all take part.

They will be joined by two up-and-coming student chefs: Darwin Hailey of Edwins, and Danny Schutte of Tri-C Hospitality Management Program. They and the chefs will be joined by Klaus Tenbergen, associate dean of the Hospitality school.

“This has been in the works for almost two years,” says Evans, who also serves as executive director of hospitality at the Hospitality Management Center. (Pura Vida, which is next door, adjoins the HMC lobby.)

“In 2011, Rouen’s mayor and economic development [officials] came over to Cleveland, celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau wine, and they did a cooking demo at Tri-C,” Evans.

“Now a group of us are going over.”

Tri-C is not contributing financially to offset the trip’s cost. Individual chefs, and/or their restaurants, are covering their own airfare and incidental expenses.

“The student and apprentice are being hosted by the Rouen Chamber of Commerce,” Evans says. The two student-apprentices will be housed in local homes. The Rouen civic organization is also hosting several of the events in France.

The trip, which runs Oct. 13-19, will take the delegation on a series of adventures. Planned highlights are expected to include…

– A program on the importance healthful eating, and food-source origins, including presentations by chefs, health leaders and speakers from Slow Foods.

– A session about the growing popularity of food trucks.

– Going to market. “They French markets are fabulous, so we’ll go shopping, then everyone has already chosen a course and that night our team will do a gala dinner attended by local restaurateurs, the mayor, reps from the local Rouen Chamber of Commerce and other delegates,” Evans says. “We’re keeping our menu very ‘American roots.”

– The Giant American Barbecue. On Wednesday, Oct. 15, the Cleveland chefs will prepare a public feast as part of an autumn expo at Halls of The Emmurees Place in Rouen. “It involves over 250 pounds of pork butts – there’ll be a whole food festival going on – with a choice of probably 7-8 sauces, each reflecting the regionality of American barbecue,” Evans says. The American-themed event will also feature an exhibition of Harley Davidsons, American automobiles, “country dancing” and even hairstyling a la les Etats-Unis (the U.S).

– Visits to the D-Day beaches, the American cemetery in Colleville, and the Memorial at Caen.

– For a closing event, chefs from Cleveland and Rouen have been paired into teams, each to share ideas and skills – then prepare a meal featuring signature dishes from the individual American and French chefs.

After the delegation returns later in October, Evans anticipates a reserved-seat public event.

“Depending upon the size, it could be held at one of our restaurants or maybe at Tri-C – which I personally would like to see happen,” Evans says. “The idea is that we’ll all prepare the dishes we learned there, and share them with others.”

The mission fits in with Tri-C’s German-born associate dean Tenbergen’s over-arching wish to expose students in the hospitality program to opportunities beyond the purely technical aspects of cooking.

During an interview earlier this year, Tenbergen said that he’s trying to build a world-class program “that enhances the students’ overall experience, and awareness of how things are done globally.”

Tenbergen explained that his aim is to “widen horizons” for students aiming for a career in the food industry.

He said he sees “great potential” in adding more degree options – including, for example, a career track in tourism – essential at a time when Northeast Ohio has seen the opening of new casinos, a convention center and a growing culinary scene.

That’s further fueled by burgeoning potential to gain large-scale convention business spurred by the Republican National Convention slated for 2016 in Cleveland.

Evans sees the the mission as a golden opportunity for the student-apprentices (“I could only have prayed to have that opportunity when I was in their shoes. They’re going to get a really great education,” Evans says) as well as for Northeast Ohio.

“It’s just another great notch on the Cleveland culinary ‘belt,'” Evans says. Here’s an opportunity for us to spread the word across the pond. We’re just super-proud to bring Cleveland culinary across the seas.

“And we’re students forever,” he adds. “We get the chance to learn from all these other great chefs. That’s one of the wonderful things about our profession – you never stop learning.”

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