Executive Chef Ellis Cooley photo by Anna-Jeannine Herman
Over the course of the hour, guests enjoyed a small sampling of the restaurant’s fresh fare (including sliced heirloom tomatoes with aioli on toast, sweet beet salad with goat cheese, sausage stuffed peppers skewered with tomatoes, corn pudding with scallops and more) as Executive Chef Ellis Cooley discussed the restaurant’s efforts to support the garden to table movement – not only by buying local as much as possible, but by actually growing vegetables in an impressively-sizeable garden right on-site at the hotel.
This past season, Chef Cooley oversaw the clearing of a large strip of overgrown weeds, brush, and grasses along the back of the Cleveland Airport Marriott’s parking lot. He replaced the useless vegetation with 40 cubic yards of topsoil (that translates to about 4 dump trucks full) and then started planting!
Though he deliberately chose plants well-suited to the area’s climate, he was unprepared for the success of the first year’s crop; nearly every seed planted has produced a plant, and the once-weedy patch is now overflowing with corn, squash, fennel, several types of peppers from mild to unbearably spicy, tomatoes, and more. The kitchen has its hands full with the habanero crop, and there is no shortage of fresh vegetables.
In addition to the restaurant’s efforts to grow their own vegetables, strong consideration is given to local farmers over larger suppliers. Whenever possible, Chef Cooley chooses to keep it simple, fresh and local.
The swearing in of the new board by Chapter President Matt Radicelli. Photo by Anna-Jeannine Herman
After a tour of the gardens, Chapter President Matt Radicelli (Founder, Rock the House Entertainment Group, Inc.
) swore in the new year’s board members, including President-Elect Deb Hermann (Chairbabe/CEO, Ghostlight Productions
), Vice President of Membership, Scott Pickel (Owner, Everything Tented
), Vice President of Education and Programs, Rachael Fuller (Special Event Coordinator Cleveland Zoological Society
), Vice President of Communications Laura Cahill (Coordinator, Community and Media Relations Lake Health
), and Directors Jim Lottig (Senior Account Representative, Event Source
), Candice Lopez (Conference Services, Kalahari Resort
), Katrina Marshall (Special Events and Communications Coordinator, Cleveland Food Bank
), Barbara Felt (Business Development Representative, Positively Cleveland), and our hostess Mary Frances Ody (Senior Event Manager, Cleveland Airport Marriott).
Other attendees included Jennifer Thomas (100th Bomb Group Restaurant & Banquet Facility
), Aable Rents
Director of Business Development Zane Gloer, Facility Rental Associate Brian Hurtt along with Julie Anderson and Paula Coakley from the Cleveland Botanical Garden
, Catering Sales Manager Shannon Harris, Jeff Alley, Renee Domaratz, and Bob Megazzini from the Cleveland Marriott at Key Center
(Council of Smaller Enterprises) Event Manager Heather Dodosh and Katie Stevenson, Bob Javorsky (Rentals Event Sales Lasting Impressions Events
), Brenda Kucinski (Event Director, Artistic Events by Catan Fashions
), Disc Jockey/Designer Anna-Jeannine Herman and Justin Herman of Something New Entertainment
, and of course the rest of the team from the Cleveland Airport Marriott, including Catering Sales Manager Michelle Hodous, Sales Coordinator Heather Double, and Sonja Scully.
Meet the Chef:
With his simple, straightforward and ingredient driven culinary style, Ellis Cooley combines a lifelong passion for cooking and over ten years spent working in some of the world’s top kitchens under many celebrated chefs. Ellis started his career in Atlanta, his hometown, but quickly found the desire to travel and work under a wider variety of top chefs. His journeys took him through South Florida, Spain, France and Austria before settling down in NYC. Once in New York, his culinary prowess was recognized and he was selected to open the ultra modern Hotel on Rivington on Manhattan’s lower east side. After a very successful opening, Ellis focused on larger properties and landed himself the job of restaurant chef at the New York Palace hotel in midtown Manhattan. After his time in New York, and with his sights set on warmer climates, he sold his winter coats and moved to Miami where he did consulting work for private condominiums.
When the opportunity presented itself to move to Cleveland and open a farm to table restaurant he jumped at it…and bought back those old winter coats. “What better place than Cleveland to work alongside so many up and coming chefs and be surrounded by farms.” Ellis is excited to be in a city with such heart and love of good food along with having such a diverse and engaged population. He truly believes there is no better food scene in the country than right here in Cleveland.“I love to show our guests the variety of wonderful dishes we can make for them through our tasting menus. I get really excited when the wait staff brings back an order for them! I like to go out and introduce myself to the table and find out a little bit about what they’re interested in. Then I go back to the kitchen and put together a dining experience they won’t forget!”
-Chef Ellis Cooley