What the Chef: Doug Katz
by Jane Snow
If there’s such a thing as a foodie gene, Doug Katz has one. He got it from his mother, Linda, who took cooking classes and raised her son on fine food instead of Pop Tarts and Tang.
The payback has been sweet. She gets to dine out whenever she wants at one of Northeast Ohio’s top restaurants, Fire Food & Drink in Shaker Heights. Her son the chef opened the restaurant in 2001 in his hometown after graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America and then sharpening his skills at restaurants in Boston, Aspen and Portland, Ore.
“I always knew I wanted to come back to Cleveland to do something in our community,” says Katz, 41.
He first started making waves in Northeast Ohio in 1998, when he became executive chef at Moxie. His innovative food attracted local and national attention as well as a wife. Karen came to dine one day and left with his heart. The couple now has 8-year old twins.
While Doug’s life was evolving, so was his food. He opened Fire with a regional American menu. Now the menu is contemporary American with lots of global accents. Pulled pork is served with a lime-cilantro rice cake, green chile and crispy black beans. A whole fish is roasted in Doug’s Indian tandoor oven and served with a French mayonnaise sauce (aioli) with charred green onions and a side of potatoes topped with gremolata, an Italian citrus- garlic seasoning.
Other than running three or four miles most mornings, Doug’s off-duty pursuits revolve around food. On his day off he might go to a farmers’ market and then ride his bike on the towpath.
He is exactly where he wants to be in both career and location—chef-owner of a critically acclaimed restaurant in his hometown, where he treats his mother to dinner about four nights a week. What a nice way to say “Thanks, Mom.”
Fire Food & Drink is at 13220 Shaker Square in Shaker Heights. 216-921-3473.