OUR FAMILY TREE
CHEF, FARMER, FOUNDER
Trained at Johnson and Wales University, Charleston, Chef Ben Bebenroth graduated in the top ten of his class and won the school’s national Taste Down Under cooking competition in 2004. He was rewarded with a 5-week trip to Australia, where he traveled with a French Master Chef to tour the country’s best restaurants and cook for national dignitaries along the way.
In early 2006, after spending some time in Northeast Ohio’s top kitchens, Bebenroth founded Spice of Life Catering Co. (now Spice Catering Co.) with a passionate commitment to source all ingredients from small, sustainable family farms within a 150-mile radius of Cleveland, Ohio.
In 2012, as distribution systems between regional farms and restaurants became more efficient, Bebenroth opened the popular Cleveland restaurant, Spice Kitchen + Bar. In 2014, he acquired Spice Acres, a 13-acre Countryside Conservancy farm in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, to grow foods for catering clientele and restaurant guests. In 2016, he and his wife, Jackie, established a non-profit organization, Spice Field Kitchen, that offers education and outreach to students and individuals who seek to learn more about farming and cooking.
Ben has spent most of his decade-long career forging relationships with local producers in order to understand how to balance consumer demand with seasonal offerings. This knowledge, combined with his award-winning culinary talents and farming experience, make him one of the most sought-after local food authorities in Northeast Ohio.
DIRECTOR OF CULINARY OPERATIONS
As students at Johnson & Wales University, Chef Joshua Woo and Chef Ben Bebenroth became fast friends, bonding over endless days in the classroom and full nights in Charleston kitchens. Upon graduation, Woo moved up to Cleveland to help Bebenroth launch Spice of Life Catering Co. in 2006. He stayed on about a year, and then moved to Wilmington, North Carolina to take on leadership roles at such notable restaurants as Yosaké Downtown Sushi Lounge & Restaurant, Roudabush Café, Husk, and the Balcony on Dock Street. Woo returned to Cleveland to rejoin Spice in the summer of 2014.
CATERING DIRECTOR, SPICE CATERING CO.
Jess Edmonds has over a decade of experience in the food and beverage industry, honing her service talents in high-traffic Cleveland hot spots. After graduating from Cleveland State with a focus in PR and marketing in 2005, she blended her textbook knowledge with acquired hospitality skills to plan weddings,benefits, and farm dinners for parties of up to 500. She has helped build the Spice brand and the event planning department over the last eight years, and is incredibly proud to be a part of such a dedicated team.
Liz is the friendly voice you hear when you call in for reservations during the day. To our staff and vendors, she’s the ever-adaptable go-to person who wears the most hats in the organization. She’s been with Spice almost seven years, starting as a catering server before becoming our office manager. Since then, she’s mastered the art of negotiating with contractors, cutting through the red tape with the City of Cleveland, getting grant approval for renovations…in addition to her regular duties of payroll, A/P and A/R, answering the phone, receiving deliveries, and more. She also helps run off-site events on the weekend. Be sure to say “hi” if you see her in the office, decorating the restaurant, or enjoying a well-deserved glass of wine at the bar.
Andrea Heim has been active in farming since 2009 where she began with a petticoat and frock at Hale Farm and Village. Since that time, she has served in the Peace Corps, coordinated the original Spice Acres (Chef Ben’s 1-acre plot in Broadview Heights), helped build an urban farm (Rising Harvest), and managed the organic farm at Crown Point Ecology Center. She is thrilled to be back with the Spice Team and can’t wait to get plans underway for the upcoming season. She brings her obsessive organization, tailored tractor skills, and passion to the fields and barns of Spice Acres.