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  • Hawken Grad & Cleveland Chef Chris Hodgson Making A Name For Himself

    [caption id="attachment_4975" align="alignleft" width="414" caption="Chef Chirs Hodgson & His Truck"]Hodgson[/caption]

    The more I come back to visit my hometown of Cleveland, the more I am impressed with the restaurants there. Yes, we have Iron Chef Michael Symon of Lola and master chef Zach Bruell of Parallax, but there is now a new name to add to that list. Chris Hodgson, a fellow Hawken School graduate, is opening a new restaurant, Hodge's. Hodgson, the runner up on the Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race, gained national attention as a chef for introducing food trucks to Cleveland. His traveling trucks Dim and Den Sum and Hodge Podge are popular stops for Cleveland foodies. But Hodgson is moving to the next level...opening his own restaurant. Joe Crea of The Plain Dealer discusses further:

    There's good news along with word of an unfortunate restaurant closing in downtown Cleveland.

    It's been rough sledding for Zinc Bistro since opening chef Tom Quick left. Executive chef and general manager Ron Bell tells me Zinc will close by the end of this year, maybe as early as Christmas Eve.

    But the space won't sit empty for long. By early spring, the lovely spot on Euclid Avenue -- a stone's throw from East Fourth Street's restaurant row -- will be home to a high-profile young chef.

    Food-truck operator Chris Hodgson, who achieved nationwide recognition when he finished second on "The Great Food Truck Race" on Food Network this year, will open Hodge's, his first brick-and-mortar restaurant, there in late March.

    Hodgson and business partner Scott Kuhn (Washington Place Bistro, Welshfield Inn, 87 West Wine Bar) will take eight to 10 weeks to overhaul the 4,000-square-foot space, a slice of the once-grand William Taylor Son & Co. department store.

    Neither menu nor decor has been finalized, Kuhn and Hodgson say.

    "The place should have a warm kind of feeling, hospitable and comfortable," says Kuhn. "From a square-footage perspective, there'll be no change at all, but from appearance, it'll be a big change."

    "We're going to do fusion comfort food, the more playful sides of what we do on the streets," says Hodgson. "There'll be some mix-and-match and some rustic cuisine."

    One chef will be preparing food right at the bar, "creating smaller plates -- things like deviled eggs, chicken-liver toasts and other snacks, from $1 to $4," says Hodgson.

    "We want to have a high-energy interaction between the guests, the bar chef and the servers. Keep it fun."

    In season, that bar chef will shift his or her show to the restaurant's fabulous 100-seat patio, where the partners are working to install a clean-burning, coal-fired oven.

    "No one else in Ohio has one. It reaches about 900 degrees, and pizzas, everything baked in it, has a unique flavor profile," Hodgson says.

    After Zinc closes, the restaurant's former patrons and others will find coupons on the Washington Place website, offering reduced-price specials at the restaurant housed in the former Baricelli Inn in Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood.

    Some members of Hodgson's food truck crew -- including his sister, Katy Hodgson, who appeared on "Food Truck Race" -- will work at Hodge's. He plans to interview applicants for the job of sous-chef. According to Bell, the new operators have said they're open to interviewing Zinc's current employees.

    As for his popular food trucks, Hodge Podge and Dim and Den Sum, they'll be used primarily for catering and special events.

    "They'll be a way to get our food out to the suburbs and get more people acquainted with what we do," he says.

    Read more at The Cleveland Plain Dealer

    Check out this video of Hodge Podge too:

    Filed under: Entertainment, Forest Hill News & Events
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