Northeast Ohio restaurant owner and chef Doug Katz will open Chimi in Cleveland Heights June 12, highlighting South American cuisine entirely via takeout and delivery.
As a “ghost kitchen” located at Katz’s catering kitchen at the former Katz Club Diner at 1975 Lee Road, Chimi will prepare and cook the foods for curbside pickup and delivery within the area, with no indoor dining.
Katz told the CJN the concept was developed after Zhug, his Middle Eastern-inspired Cleveland Heights restaurant, opened last year, as South American was the next style of cuisine he and his team wanted to attempt.
“I love working with spices, I love great flavor, and so after Zhug opened, we talked about what would be the next ethnicity we’d like to take on – and it was South American,” he said. “So we thought during this time, why not hone it a little and create something that we can launch in a ghost restaurant style.”
Chimi is in reference to chimichurri, an Argentinian herb relish that pairs well with grilled meats and fish. “It’s great on everything actually,” Katz said.
He highlighted a Peruvian chicken dish served at Chimi, which features an aji verde sauce – an emulsified mayonnaise-like sauce with herbs and chiles.
“The chicken sort of has this acidity to it, but it also has a slight sweetness to it – think of as just a great summer grilled meat,” Katz said.
He also described a peanut salsa with a special thickness to it that also features dried chile. The kitchen will also serve locally made Shagbark Seed & Mill corn tortilla chips that Katz said pair well with Chimi’s various dips.
Online orders are preferred and can be made on Chimi’s website, chimicle.com. Customers can also preorder.
Katz typically uses Chimi’s kitchen for his fire catering – the catering company associated with fire food & drink, his restaurant that focuses on local, sustainable cuisine in Cleveland’s Shaker Square neighborhood. Since fire closed due to the pandemic – and is not immediately reopening and there’s little market for catering currently – timing was right to develop the new Chimi concept. Cameron Pishnery, who is also executive chef at fire, is Chimi’s chef.
The food is made to travel well, Katz said, as those seeking such a culinary experience shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality because they are taking the food home rather than dining at a restaurant.
On opening the kitchen during the pandemic, Katz said “we figured, why not go upstream and fight the current, and it will allow us to be stronger when we come out of it.”
Moreover, similar to Katz’s other local restaurants, like Zhug and Chutney B, his Indian and Thai spot at the Van Aken District in Shaker Heights, Chimi is meant to inspire a fun culinary experience – which may be especially lacking for regular restaurant patrons during this time.
“I feel like it’s such a great summer so far with great weather, and it’s so fun to just get out and experience something new and different,” he said. “You shouldn’t have to sacrifice because it’s takeout or delivery – it shouldn’t be that you are getting sort of a secondary experience. So we are trying to create a great experience.”