We’re so excited to tell you about our new GM and sommelier, Todd Thompson. Todd brings to fire a wonderful mix of talent, experience and a deep affection for the small farms and local foods so essential to our mission. It isn’t surprising that Todd found a life in the food industry. As a child growing up in rural Western New York state, Todd was surrounded by small farms, big gardens and green forests. His family foraged wild foods, gardened and canned the season’s bounty. He recalled days spent with his grandmother picking wild strawberries and tending the family’s garden.
“It was truly a gift to learn to appreciate real food from such an early age,” he commented.
Since his arrival at fire Todd has been working with Doug on streamlining front of house operations and raising the quality and variety of our wine and bar menus. Todd has a passion for discovering small wine producers who create distinctive vintages that reflect terroir and offer great value. Todd has also been working on our bar menu–bringing in wonderful obscure new spirits and testing out some of the super tasty classic cocktails of the 1920′s. We’re looking forward to ever more delicious and interesting bar offerings featuring unique liquors and lots of fresh local produce. We’ll keep you posted on this. In the mean time though, Todd was kind enough to answer a few questions for the blog.
How long have you lived in Cleveland?
I have lived in Northeast Ohio since the fifth grade. I was born in Jamestown, New York and did my middle and high school years in Madison, Ohio.
What were you doing before fire?
Before fire I worked for InterContinental Hotel Cleveland, first as the manager of Table 45 and later as the assistant director of food and beverage. Before that I spent several years at the Blue Point Grille.
How did you come to the restaurant industry?
When I was a freshman in high school I started working at a winery in Madison picking grapes in the vineyard. I stayed there a total of five years and was very fortunate to learn wine from the ground up, literally. While in college I started serving to pay the bills and quickly realized that all that time working in the fields and cellar was quite useful. From there, one thing led to another. That and the fact that poetry is somewhat less than lucrative brought me into world of hospitality.
I have always liked fire. In fact, it was my choice for my birthday dinner this past year. My introduction to what food can really be was the two years I worked at Parker’s Restaurant in Ohio City. Parker taught me what food is, what food should be and definitely what food isn’t. Doug has the same reverence for food, tradition, sourcing and quality that I learned was so crucial to the true art of dining. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work in an environment that promotes the same professional values that I try to adhere to in my personal life. It is incredibly satisfying to be a part of an organization that has such a true commitment to quality and sustainability.
What do you feel is the best kept secret in Cleveland?
Almost everything good in Cleveland is a secret and I don’t mean that to sound snarky. It’s just that people outside of this area have no idea how good the dining is, how wonderful our park system is or how much there is to do. However, the one secret that stands out to me is how beautiful Cleveland is in the summer time.
Tell us about your perfect day.
Let’s see, a perfect day… I don’t have a single formula for getting to that place but it definitely involves a combination of some or all of the following: running, cycling, a good book, cheese, coffee, Champagne, a good book about cheese, coffee and Champagne, a cornucopia of delicious treats far too numerous to mention individually, Pinot noir, music, my lady, my dog and quite possibly Grand Marnier.
And your favorite book/movie/album?
I don’t really have a favorite book and I will read almost anything. I love movies of all sorts, some of my all-time favorites are North by Northwest, Lawrence of Arabia, No Country for Old Men and Treasure of the Sierra Madre. If I love movies then I live for music. I like most genres but most often return to noisy indy-pop.
Choose a super power…flight or invisibility.
This seems like one of those pop psychology questions. If I pick flight then I’m most likely outgoing, confident and optimistic with a penchant for throwing caution to the wind. Invisibility means that I am introspective, pensive and prone to weighing my decisions carefully. With that in mind, I’m going with teleportation.
Humm…. clever …very clever . Thanks Todd-keep us posted!
Post and photos by Amy Viny