As we put together this year's Tastemakers issue, a celebration of rising talent that's become my very favorite issue to work on, the news came that Kenny Kim and Misako Ohba, the couple featured on last year's Tastemakers cover, were closing Freshstreet.

As we put together this year's Tastemakers issue, a celebration of rising talent that's become my very favorite issue to work on, the news came that Kenny Kim and Misako Ohba, the couple featured on last year's Tastemakers cover, were closing Freshstreet.

Ceasing their Japanese street food pop-up inside Double Happiness will allow Kim and Ohba to take an extended (and open-ended) vacation, including plans to visit Ohba's parents in Japan.

It was devastating news, and not just because I'm losing my access to pork cheek yakitori and okonomiyaki fries. Freshstreet was one of just a few Columbus spots that had started getting traction in terms of generating attention for their distinctive food on a national level.

So with Freshstreet out of the picture (at least for the time being), what should Columbus do next to continue building on that national buzz?

I have one idea that just could catch on: Let's begin cultivating ourown Midwestern cuisine. Or, heck, we could be more specific and call it Ohio cuisine, or some other fun Ohio-themed name.

Think about it. When Itake a trip to another part of the country, I want to eat the regionalfoods I can't get anywhere else. Grits and biscuits in the South. Just-caught, whole steamed lobsters in Maine. Street tamales in Los Angeles. Writers are always looking for the story angles that set one place apart from another, and we're not giving national publications that story yet.

We have amazing restaurants cooking Italian cuisine, French cuisine, Spanish cuisine, lowcountry cuisine. And that's all well and good-a dining scene should be well-rounded. We also have a few chefs cooking the kind of food I'm talking about. But we haven't yet learned to talk about it as Ohio food. Instead we say locally sourced-but isn't that how any city could describe its food?

The one thing we have easy access to that no one else does is Ohio-grown produce and meats. What we don't have easy access to, most crucially, is seafood. And it's as simple as that. Midwestern cuisine hasn't been nearly as defined as Southern cuisine or New England cuisine, so the sky's the limit in terms of how we can interpret it.

I'd like to see more chefs embrace this hardcore local approach to cooking, and begin to brand themselves and their restaurants that way.

In the meantime, let's salute a few of the places already paving the way.

1. Skillet: This is what it's all about. All hail Kevin Caskey, the patron saint of Ohio cuisine!

2. Knead: The local focus here is so strong, Rick Lopez once made calamari from Ohio pork tenderloin.

3. Tip Top: It's all about Ohio comfort food here, from pot roast sandwiches and meatloaf to bratwurst with sauerkraut.

4. Alana's: Alana Shock's menu changes daily based on what's growing at area farms.

5. Till: Magdiale Wolmark's food feels exotic, but look closely and you'll see familiar local vegetables and meats.

6. The Coop: From a new kitchen inside the Hey Hey bar, Angie Theado tops her famous yak burgers with local eggs.

7. Kitchen Little: Try hearty casseroles and brunch fare made with meats from North Market Poultry & Game.

8. Rubino's: Thin-crust, square-cut pizza has thus far been Columbus' culinary claim to fame.

9. Der Dutchman: Family-style fare from Ohio Amish country.

10. Greenhouse Tavern: Not in Columbus, but we can't ignore Jonathon Sawyer's trailblazing farm-to-plate concept.

Let's eat!

Shelley Mann, Editor