Give Michael Symon an apron and put him in a kitchen, and he will not fail to perform magic. Symon is a thoroughly trained professional chef whose name is almost synonymous with the restaurant culture in the Cleveland area of his home state of Ohio. Over the years, he has prepared many recipes that have left saliva and drool in the minds of food lovers. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t experienced his own share of lows.
Michael is also a shrewd businessman. He owns several restaurants in the Cleveland area and beyond, including Lola, The B Spot, and Mabel’s BBQ. The chef has also found time to build a portfolio as a television personality and author. He has appeared on networks such as Food Network and Cooking Channel and is widely known for his appearance on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Michael Symon’s Bio
Born on September 19, 1969, Michael was born in Cleveland and spent his childhood in North Olmsted. Here he enrolled at the St. Richard School and then transferred to St. Edward High School in Lakewood, where he graduated in 1987.
His first sting in life with the paycheck came after high school. Micheal worked as a part-time chef at Geppetto’s Pizza and Ribs. While here, he enrolled and attended the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in New York, where he graduated in 1990. After New York, he took a job at Player’s in Lakewood, then at Piccolo Mondo and finally at Caxton Cafe. During this time he built a loyal, though still small, fan base.
In the next few years of Micheal’s career immediately following Caxton Café, he worked to establish himself as an authority on the Cleveland restaurant scene. He pooled his resources and opened his first restaurant in Tremont in February 1997. He bought a local restaurant called Bohemia from the owners Gerry Groh and his wife Lynda Khoury, who wanted to close the store and move away from Tremont.
Michael renamed the place Lola, which was the name of his aunt. Lola proved a massive success and received largely positive reviews from locals and critics alike. In October 2000, Gourmet Magazine included Lola on its list of America’s best restaurants. Eight years after founding Lola, he renamed it “Lolita” and moved with Lola to downtown Cleveland.
In April 2006, Michael Symon expanded to New York with the opening of Parea, his third restaurant. It offered a tempting, high-quality Greek menu. Although it received good reviews, it was ultimately not considered vibrant enough for the New York palette. The Parea was included in Food & Wine magazine’s “100 Tastes to Try in ’07” list. Symon, however, closed the business and sold the restaurant in 2007, one year after it opened.
For his next project, Michael chose Detroit, Michigan. There he launched Michael Symon’s Roast (simply called Roast) in 2008. He chose the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel as his venue. The following year the restaurant was named Restaurant of the Year 2009 by the Detroit Free Press.
The same year, in July 2009, Michael Symon took another venue in his home state and opened Bar Symon in Avon Lake, Ohio. The venue had a tavern-style dining theme and proved to be a success. Not long after, he built on this success and launched the similarly themed B Spot in Woodmere, Ohio.
One of his biggest collaborations came in October 2009 with the NFL franchise Cleveland Cavaliers. He was selected to help produce items for the menu at Aramark, a food service company operating on the Cavaliers’ home turf. At the Quicken Loans Arena, two restaurants were renamed after each of Michael’s tavern-themed restaurants, and some of his signature dishes were added to the menu for suite dining.
The following year, Symon closed the doors of Bar Symon and opened four more “The B Spot” restaurants over the next two years. One of them was a B Spot stand on the home field of the Cleveland Browns before the 2012 NFL season.
In collaboration with The Paradies Shops and the United Concessions Group, he revitalized Bar Symon in June 2012 by opening a location at Pittsburgh International Airport-Airmail. In May 2017, he opened a second Bar Symon at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
Starting in 2017, Michael Symon expanded in Texas and opened additional branches in Cleveland. In late 2015, he opened Symon’s Burger in Austin, Texas, and in April 2016 he opened Mabel’s BBQ near Lola on East 4th Street.
Awards, Media, and Publishing Endeavors
Michael has done many gigs for Food Network. From promoting their Nintendo video game Cook or be Cooked in 2009 to one of the Network’s moderators of the Melting Pot show. In 2005 he was a featured actor on the cooking show Iron Chef America. He was also featured in an episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and in the television competition The Next Iron Chef, which he won.
In “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” by Food Network, the first episode features Michael Symon’s restaurant, Lolita. In February 2011 Symon was on Conan, a nightly talk show. Later that year he was hired as co-host of The Chew on ABC network.
In 2001, the namesake and fellow countryman from Cleveland and Michael Ruhlman published a book entitled The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection. In the book he dedicated an entire section to Michael Symon, describing his beginnings and growth in his quest for culinary dominance and perfection. Eight years later, in 2009, Symon published his first cookbook in collaboration with Ruhlman, Michael Symon’s Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Get Your Kitchen Cooking.
After these publications, Michael Symon co-authored many other books, including The Chew: Food. Life. Fun, Michael Symon’s Carnivore: 120 Recipes for Meat Lovers and The Chew: What’s for Dinner. In April 2018 he published his first barbecue cookbook Michael Symon’s Playing With Fire.
The exceptional chef also has a product line called Michael Symon Live to Cook Collection by Weston, produced by Weston Products, a kitchen appliance company.
Michael Symon has received many awards for his contribution as a media personality and chef. In 1995, Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine named him Cleveland’s hottest chef. In 2007, Cleveland Magazine named him Best Local Chef and he received the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Informative Talk Show Host for his work on ABC’s The Chew.
Michael Symon’s Family: Wife, Kids
Michael is of Greek and Sicilian descent thanks to his parents Dennis Symon and Angel Symon. Both parents have appeared in some of his television series, such as Symon’s Suppers in 2012, and he also has a younger sister, Nikki Symon, who works as an accountant, is married, and has two children.
Michael and his wife Liz Symon (formerly Shanahan) have been married for a long time. It is not clear when they got married, but their first son Kyle Symon was born in 1988. Kyle is not Michael’s biological son, as he was a result of Liz’s previous relationship.
Liz is a vegetarian, although many of her husband’s recipes are described by critics and Michael himself as “meat-centered. Michael and his wife have worked together in many of his restaurants since 1997.
Height and Weight
The kitchen magician stands at a height of 1.75 m (5 feet 9 inches). In an interview in 2018, he revealed that he weighs 94.3 kg (208 pounds).