There’s a standing joke we have at Executive Arrangements. When Chef Douglas Katz stops by the lunch table to greet an EA client, chances are that he has lived in or visited the city where they currently live! We are pretty sure Douglas has been to every city in the US, which makes dining at his restaurants so impactful to newcomers exploring Northeast Ohio for the first time.
Douglas is a celebrated chef, owner and executive chef of fire food + drink, owner of Fire Spice Company, chef and partner of Provenance, Provenance Café, and Catering by Provenance at the Cleveland Museum of Art…And, he’s an Executive Arrangements’ favorite!
He is also the kind of chef who is as comfortable in the kitchen making amazing food as he is out on the floor meeting patrons.
EA enjoys spotlighting our community partners. We spoke with Douglas to get his thoughts on Cleveland as a city, a food scene and a great place to live!
We know you are a born and raised Clevelander, but how many times have you relocated and to what cities?
“I lived in Shaker Heights while growing up. I then attended the University of Denver followed by The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. I then did a one-year internship in Boston followed by two years in Portland and two years in Aspen.”
What brought you back to Cleveland?
“I just love Cleveland. It’s such a great ‘small town’ that has everything. I originally came back to be the executive chef at Moxie. But, I knew that I would open my own restaurant because I love connecting with the guests and really getting to know my clientele.
I chose Shaker Square as the home for fire food + drink because it is the epitome of a vibrant town center. It is incredibly diverse, yet you still see the same people regularly and can easily make connections.
Cleveland, in general, has so many great neighborhoods. And, close families allow the neighborhoods to grow and build. Cleveland is also nice because it is so easy to get around town. We have great business efforts and cultural interests. It’s a great place to raise a family. It’s an under-the-radar kind of place. But, if you live here, you love it!”
Your restaurants are some of Executive Arrangements’ favorite stops on our guided explorations for candidates and families considering a relocation to Cleveland! Why is is so important to you to stop at the EA lunch tables and talk to potential Clevelanders?
“It starts with Margy [Margy Judd, EA’s President]. I want to support her and the work of Executive Arrangements. Executive Arrangements is actively welcoming people to our community, and that is exciting! I definitely love Cleveland and feel like a community ambassador for the city.
I love stopping by the tables to find out how many people are moving here and where they are coming from. I enjoy passing along the love that I have for Cleveland from growing up here. It’s such a great community. I truly believe that and want to share with people who are making the decision to move here.
Plus, as a restaurant, we thrive because of people, and it is important to nurture our customer base through both the food and the experience. I am excited to invite EA’s clients to become a part of a great city.”
We feel that Clevelanders are resourceful and creative people, and you are no exception. What is your take on why sustainability is so important to you and the future of Cleveland.
“A sustainable food system is important to the health of people and our economy. The importance of sustainability can really be seen through the incredible farmers markets in our region. We can learn so much from all of our local farmers. Supporting these farmers is of the upmost importance. I am happy to support other organizations to allow them to be sustainable, as well.”
Many people are surprised that Cleveland is such a creative foodie town. Why do you think our Midwest city has a cooler food vibe than most?
“Cleveland became more food savvy because real estate market prices were low enough to give chefs more opportunities to open restaurants with reasonable terms. We were allowed to grow! There are so many people who have worked in the restaurants and want to create their own. Cleveland is definitely a part of the food hall national trend, which is allowing people to take risks. We have been able to offer creative restaurants earlier than some other cities.
The strength of our farmers markets is another reason. Chefs and farmers are able to actively interact and bounce ideas off each other. The North Union Farmers Market was one of the first in country. That put us ahead of other places. We latched on early. When you deal directly with purveyors, you can give them ideas of what to grow.”
As shoppers and diners in Northeast Ohio, how can we connect to local farmers or markets? What are your favorite places to shop?
- Billy Ritter 77 (He makes amazing reclaimed clay ceramics, both functional and sculptural)
- Firefly Farm (Can be found at the North Union Farmers Market in Shaker Square)
- Mackenzie Creamery
- Miller Grassfed (fire’s burger and aged ribeye are from here)
- Na Kyrsie Meats (Great charcuterie)
- Noble Beast Brewing Co. (They source many ingredients locally)
- North Union Farmers Market
- Ohio City Provisions (A local butcher and grocer)
- Ohio Honey
- Rainbow Farms
- Rittman Orchards (Summer produce and great cider, beer and wine)
- Snake Hill Farm
- Fire Food and Drink: Sustainable splendor on Shaker Square
- The Champion of Sustainability
- Q&A with Douglas Katz, chef, restauranteur, and local food champion