Say ahhhhhh. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

This is not a great photo, technically, but it’s a favorite of 2012 for all that it represents. That’s Billy Harris, apparently looking for tonsils to nibble on. Next to him is Paul Kahan, the Chicago chef, entrepreneur, badass cook, and purveyor of fine meats. At right is Jonathan Waxman, chef-owner of Barbuto in NYC and one of the godfathers of the new American cuisine. Bless them, they’d all come with many other colleagues to my town to benefit our amazing West Side Market and celebrate its hundredth birthday.

The head, it will be no surprise to Cleveland food lovers, is courtesy of Jonathon Sawyer, chef-owner of The Greenhouse Tavern (he also just started an ancillary vinegar business; see below). It had come to the table with much roasted meat still attached and was deeee-licious.

How can you not love a chef who sends a whole roasted steer’s head to the table?

I’ve begun the gradual recovery from my ten-day Key West hangover, catching up on work, and will post on those meals soon, but for now, Sawyer’s steer’s head, and a thanks to the powers that be that have put me in such close contact with America’s greatest cooks.

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© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.