Cleveland Food Community Supports Its Own

The Cleveland food community is at its strongest when it comes together for a common purpose – like creating fun, memorable food experiences. That’s exactly the point behind Whisk, a pop-up event concept developed by the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) designed to merge culinary education with entertainment. Here’s a short video that gives you a taste of the pop up we attended shot by Karin McKenna, one of our regular contributors.

LillyCCLK2We attended a chocolate and wine pairing hosted by Lilly Chocolates proprietor Amanda Montague, and Carl and Catherine St. John, the management team behind the Western Reserve School of Cooking. The event was held at the cooking school’s second location, their mid-town space at 2800 Euclid Avenue, a flourishing center of culinary creativity, collaboration and learning.

Amanda started the night allowing guests to sample the pure white, milk and dark chocolate. She noted that her white chocolate is different than what most people think of – it’s not the thin, waxy stuff of childhood Easter baskets. Only chocolates from France, Switzerland, and Belgium are the basis of her complex, flavorful creations that can contain a bite of the unexpected. “Chocolate is the vessel we’ve chosen to showcase our flavor profile,” she says.

LillyCCLK3The evening featured some of her most popular items including the Frou Frou with blood orange, passion fruit, and orange liqueur (paired with the bubbly Prosecco) and Forty Winks, a lavender infused, double chocolate ganache with candied violet and rose petals (paired with the rich, smoky Cabernet) that was as sensual on the palate as it sounds. The flavor combination of this truffle was inspired by a lavender macaron she had from New York City. Many of the flavors comprising her dreamy creations invoke a memory that means something to her, she says.

Carl and Catherine poured four wines that included a Prosecco, a Pinot Noir, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Port, each complimenting two different Lilly truffles.

It turns out that building your own pairings at home is pretty simple and intuitive. Match light wines to lighter tasting truffles made of white chocolate and citrus, and pair your big, fruity wines or port with dark chocolate and berries.

unnamedThe mid-town WRSOC space is just across the hall from the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen and the ECDI is just upstairs. The marriage of the three organizations creates unique opportunities to for new entrepreneurs and products. Carl says, “we’re able to promote other businesses working out of the CCLK by using their products or making them available for sale, or introducing established local businesses like Lilly Chocolates to new customers.”

WRSOC will take Whisk on the road, heading west to the Bop Stop on March 23. The event and will feature three CCLK caterers, Raw Trainer, Fire & Ash, and Young Sprouts with some live jazz. Register for the event here. For a schedule of WRSOC classes and events, at the Mid-town or Hudson location, head to

— Lisa Sands