Bits and Bites of Cleveland: Brick and Mortar Pop-Ups, Silver Spoon, NEO Food Tours

As can be seen from this snapshot of the recent Silver Spoon Awards, Cleveland is full of people hungry to sample the wide variety of skilled chefs that call Cleveland home.

UPDATE: Chris Hodgson’s Brick & Mortar Pop-Up has been rescheduled to July 11 and 13.

While there is certainly no shortage of amazing restaurants in Cleveland, there often seems to be a shortage in time to try them all out.

Fortunately, the Cleveland food scene has remedied the situation with culinary events that help the community more easily explore the chefs and restaurants that make their home here.

Below is a sampling of a few recent and upcoming food events. The events listed below – much like Chef Jam and Emerging Chefs – don’t just serve up delicious food but also provide unique access to our vibrant food community.

The team from Deagan's Kitchen serving up

Silver Spoon Awards

I’ve been meaning to write about this for awhile. The Silver Spoon Awards was an excellent strolling food event that kicked off the last couple of weeks of delicious dinners.  The event on May 26 benefited the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. Scott and I volunteered for the first couple hours of the night at the silent auction and then explored the restaurants that were there.

The restaurants that were featured included the winners of Cleveland Magazine’s Silver Spoon Awards. My favorites? Deagan’s Kitchen‘s shrimp tacos (can’t wait to try this restaurant out!), AMP 150‘s Vidalia onion soup (a superb seasonal alternative to their mushroom soup), bacon guacamole with fried wonton crisps from Bac in Tremont (I never want to eat guac with tortilla chips again), and pretty much every dessert at Sweet Melissa‘s table.

However, the best part of the evening was learning more about the Arthritis Foundation’s impact. While we sampled some of the dishes, we met a couple whose son was diagnosed with arthritis at only a few years old. They shared their story of how the Foundation has provided more than just access to health services, but more importantly a network of friends and family that have supported them over the last ten years. The conversation demonstrated the true value of this organization.

You can learn more about how to contribute to the Arthritis Foundation by visiting, and for more reviews of the Silver Spoon Awards, check out WhyCLE and CLE Food and Brews.

Chef Jonathon Sawyer's latest project kicks off by hosting Chefs Chris Hodgson and Lee Anne Wong in Chef Sawyer's new Noodlecat space.

Brick & Mortar Pop-Ups

From the mad mind of food-obsessed Chef Jonathon Sawyer comes Brick & Mortar Pop-ups.  These pop-up restaurants are an avenue for chefs to experiment with different concepts and unique dining experiences in a temporary setting. The first two pop-ups will give a sneak peek to Chef Sawyer’s new space Noodlecat on 240 Euclid Ave. as it plays host to Food Truck Master of the Universe Chris Hodgson and Bravo’s Top Chef contestant Lee Anne Wong.

On July 11 and 13, Chef Hodgson will be serving up a menu of B.E.L.T. Steam Bun, Rib-Eye Taco, Peking Quail, and Orange “Chicken” (which is really going to include orange glazed crispy shortbreads). Chef Lee Anne Wong follows up on June 23 and 24 with Easy Japaneasy – a selection of “fingers, sticks and slurp.”

Tickets for these dinners are $50 each. Chef Hodgson’s tickets can be purchased via Eventbrite at the link above; to rsvp for Chef Lee Anne Wong’s dinner, email

What I particularly like about this concept is Chef Sawyer opening up Noodlecat early and sharing it with other chefs – giving them an opportunity to be inspired by a new space and exposing new audiences to their creativity.

Michele Iacobelli-Buckholtz at Murray Hill Market introduces a selection of cured meats, fresh parmigiano-reggiano cheese, prosciutto wrapped figs, and turkey on pepper jack drizzled with cranberry mayonnaise at the second stop on NEO Food Tours' Little Italy event.

NEO Food Tours

The last NEO Food Tours in Little Italy wasn’t just fun, but a learning experience as I got to explore a neighborhood I had only scratched the surface of on previous visits. And who better to guide us through the streets than La Dolce Vita’s gregarious owner Terry Tarantino?

The menu included a delicious caprese, homemade charcuterie (my favorite being prosciutto wrapped figs), Michaelangelo’s tortellini and gnocchi with house Bolognese featuring duck and veal, and eggplant and white bean/tuna crostinis (my favorite dish of the entire night).

For a full review of the evening, read Hungry in CLE’s post Mangia! Mangia! You can also catch a glimpse from the coverage on NewsChannel5.

Although the next tour of Tremont on June 22nd is sold-out, tours will continue to be offered on the third Wednesday of each month with an exploration of E4th on July 20th. In addition to these signature dinners, NEO Food Tours will soon be offering gastro-bike events, market tours and brewery/wine tours.

More information can be found by following NEO Food Tours on Facebook or @NEOFoodTours.


I love these sort of events and definitely recommend them because they allow you to easily explore what’s out there — and as I’ve discovered the last few weeks there’s a lot!

Disclosures: Volunteers at the Silver Spoon Awards were able to attend the event for free and enjoy the food while not on their assigned shift.  Additionally, I volunteer with NEO Food Tours assisting in PR/community outreach.

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  1. Great post! Thanks for the shout out too! Can’t wait to go on another food tour this summer :)

  2. Pingback: Why? Silver Spoon Awards! | Why CLE?

  3. Pingback: NEO Food Tours Travels to Kamm’s Corners Farmers Market and AMP 150 « Clue Into Cleveland

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