Give Michael Symon an apron and place him in a kitchen and he’ll not fail to make magic. Symon is a thoroughly trained professional chef whose name is almost synonymous with the restaurant culture in the area of Cleveland in his home state of Ohio. Over the years, he has whipped up many recipes that have left food enthusiasts salivating, drooling. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t encountered his own share of lows.
Michael is also an astute businessman. He owns several restaurants in the Cleveland area and beyond such as Lola, The B Spot and Mabel’s BBQ. The chef has also found time to build a portfolio as a television personality and an author. He has appeared on networks like Food Network, Cooking Channel and is known widely for his appearance of the show The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Michael Symon’s Bio
Born September 19, 1969, Michael was born in Cleveland and spent his childhood in North Olmsted. It was here he enrolled at St. Richard School and subsequently transferred to Lakewood’s St. Edward High School, graduating in 1987.
His first stab at the paycheck life came after high school. Micheal worked as a cook at Geppetto’s Pizza and Ribs on a part-time basis. While he was here, he enrolled in and attended the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in New York, graduating in 1990. After New York, he took up employment at Player’s in Lakewood then at Piccolo Mondo and finally at Caxton Cafe. All the while, he was building a devoted fan base, albeit still a small one.
The next few years of Micheal’s career immediately after Caxton Café saw him work at establishing himself as an authority in Cleveland’s restaurant scene. He pulled resources together and opened up his first place in February 1997 in Tremont. He bought a local restaurant known as Bohemia from its owners Gerry Groh and his wife Lynda Khoury who were looking to close up shop and move away from the Tremont.
Micheal renamed the place to Lola which was his aunt’s name. Lola proved to be a massive success, receiving largely positive reviews from locals and critics alike. In October 2000, Gourmet Magazine listed Lola on the list of America’s Best Restaurants. Eight years after he started Lola, he renamed it “Lolita” and moved Lola to downtown Cleveland.
In April 2006, Michael Symon expanded into New York with the launching of Parea, his third restaurant. It featured a tantalizing high-profile Greek menu. Although it was given good ratings, it was ultimately not considered vibrant enough for New York’s palette. Parea was listed on Food & Wine magazine’s list of “100 Tastes to Try in ’07”. However, Symon closed operations and sold the place in 2007, a year after opening it.
For his next venture, Micheal chose Detroit, Michigan. It was here he launched Michael Symon’s Roast (simply known as Roast) in 2008. For the venue, he chose the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel. The next year, the restaurant was recognized by the Detroit Free Press as the 2009 Restaurant of the Year.
The same year in July 2009, Michael Symon picked up another venue in his home state, opening Bar Symon in Avon Lake, Ohio. The place had a tavern food theme and proved to be successful. Not long after, he built on its success by launching 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 picked to help craft items for the menu at Aramark, a food service company operating at the Cavaliers’ home ground. At the Quicken Loans Arena, two restaurants were renamed after each of Michael’s tavern themed restaurants and some of his signature dishes were put on the menu for suite catering purposes.
The following year, Symon closed the doors of Bar Symon and opened up four more “The B Spot” locations over the next two years. One of them was a B Spot stand at the home ground of the Cleveland Browns ahead of the 2012 NFL season.
Collaborating with The Paradies Shops and United Concessions Group, he revived Bar Symon in June 2012 by opening a location in Pittsburgh International Airport-Airmail. He opened a second Bar Symon in Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in May 2017.
As of 2017, Michael Symon has taken expanded into Texas and established more in Cleveland. He started Symon’s Burger in Austin, Texas in late 2015, and opened Mabel’s BBQ near Lola on East 4th Street in April 2016.
Awards, Media and Publishing Endeavors
Michael has made a lot of appearances for Food Network. From promoting their Nintendo video game Cook or be Cooked in 2009 to being one of the hosts on the network’s show Melting Pot. In 2005, he was a competitor on the cooking show Iron Chef America. He has also been on an episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and on the television competition The Next Iron Chef which he won.
Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate feature Michael Symon’s restaurant Lolita in its first episode. In February 2011, Symon was on Conan, a late-night talk show. Later in the year, he was brought on to co-host a The Chew on ABC network.
In 2001, a namesake and fellow Cleveland native and Michael Ruhlman published a book titled The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection. In the book, he devoted an entire section to Michael Symon, detailing his beginnings and growth in his quest for culinary dominance and perfection. Eight years later, in 2009, Symon collaborated with Ruhlman to publish his first cookbook, Michael Symon’s Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen.
Following this releases, Michael has 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 released his first barbecue cookbook Michael Symon’s Playing With Fire.
The chef extraordinaire also has a product line called Michael Symon Live to Cook Collection by Weston, produced by Weston Products, a kitchenware company.
Michael Symon has received many awards for his contribution as a media personality and chef. In 1995, The Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine named him Cleveland’s Hottest Chef. He was awarded the Best Local Chef by Cleveland Magazine in 2007 and a 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 ancestry thanks to his parents Dennis Symon and Angel Symon. Both parents have appeared on some of his television series such as Symon’s Suppers in 2012. He also has a younger sister Nikki Symon who works as an accountant, is married and has two kids.
Michael and his wife Liz Symon (formerly Shanahan) have been married a long time. It isn’t clear when they got married, however, their first son Kyle Symon was born in 1988. Kyle is not Michael’s biological son as he was a result of Liz’s prior relationship.
Liz is a vegetarian even though many of her husband’s recipes are described by critics and Michael himself as “meat-centric”. Michael and his wife have worked together on many of his restaurants since 1997.
Height and Weight
The kitchen magician stands at a height of 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m). He revealed in a 2018 interview that he weighs 208 pounds (94.3 kg).