Here's the dish on the new CLE Foodcast podcast

Lisa Sands is serving up something that she believes Cleveland very much needs: its own food podcast. Billed as “conversation for food and drink enthusiasts that starts where the pretty Instagram picture ends,” her recently debuted CLE Foodcast shines a light on all things food in The Land.

“I couldn’t believe Cleveland didn’t already have a food podcast,” shares Sands, a local food advocate and lifestyle writer. “I think there is room for more conversation and promotion around the food industry here in Cleveland. With traditional media shrinking, I felt that I could create another channel for people in my own small way.”

Sands with Farmer Jones, an upcoming CLE Foodcast guest, at the Culinary Vegetable InstituteOn May 11, Sands published the first three episodes featuring Crystal Angersola of Eat*Drink*Cleveland; Penny Barend Tagliarina of Terrestrial Brewing Company (and formerly of Saucisson); and Jeremy Umansky of Larder. She plans to release episodes weekly and to tackle topics such as sustainability with the Rust Belt Riders; food equity with chef Eric Wells; and restaurant longevity with Keep the Change Kitchen's Ben Bebenroth.

“My hope is to go beyond the shiny objects and latest trends to talk about important issues,” says Sands. “We’ll definitely have some fun—I want to talk about Ohio wine and why Cleveland loves donuts—but I also want to have intimate conversations.”

As Sands looks toward the future, her goal is to highlight “women and other underrepresented voices” in the industry, with the specific goal of interviewing folks such as Adun Spice Co. founder Ramat Wiley and influential food writer Toni Tipton-Martin (a former Plain Dealer employee who was the first African-American woman to hold the post of food editor at a major daily newspaper).

The podcast represents a unique intersection of Sands’ interests and career trajectory, as she brings a background in both radio and media to the project. Having majored in broadcast journalism at Kent State University, Sands spent 10 years working in promotions and marketing at Clear Channel, then went on to lead the marketing team at Whole Foods Market in Cleveland.

“While working at Clear Channel, I learned a lot through osmosis about production, interviewing, and making a good product,” says Sands. “Fast forward to working at Whole Foods, where I got the chance to learn all about local food, food sourcing, and food tracing.”

Sands innoculating mushrooms at Purplebrown FarmsteadSands also spent six years working in various freelance capacities for Edible Cleveland, where she forged relationships with many local farmers, chefs, and other movers and shakers in the food world.

“I was able to learn about the local food community in a really up-close and personal way, and I became a fan, champion, and supporter,” shares Sands. “When that chapter ended, I took some time to think about how I could use my skillset and background to amplify the local food community—especially coming out of COVID—and that is how CLE Foodcast was born.”

In creating the podcast, Sands has also enlisted the help of some people she met along the way, such as former Whole Foods Market store artist Matt Benkner and sound engineer Bill Conners, whom she worked with at Clear Channel. Benkner created the CLE Foodcast logo, while Conners is helping produce the podcast.

It’s all part of Sands’ vision to start a meaningful dialogue around Cleveland’s food scene and the people, products, and places that make it so special.

“There is so much imagery around food these days, but there are deeper stories to tell,” says Sands. “That’s the lane I want to be in.”

Read more articles by Jen Jones Donatelli.

As an enthusiastic CLE-vangelist, Jen Jones Donatelli enjoys diving headfirst into her work with FreshWater Cleveland. Upon moving back to Cleveland after 16 years in Los Angeles, Jen served as FreshWater's managing editor for two years (2017-2019) and continues her work with the publication as a contributing editor and host of the FreshFaces podcast. Along with her work at FreshWater, she is the editor-of-chief of Edible Cleveland and a contributing editor for Destination Cleveland. When not typing the day away at her laptop, she teaches writing and creativity classes for Creative Groove, Literary Cleveland, Cleveland State University, and more. Jen is a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.