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Voicings: Michael Symon


Image courtesy of Michael Symon Restaurants

Michael Symon has a very full plate. In addition to being a co-host of ABC’s The Chew, the chef is a Food Network and Cooking Channel regular – as well as a James Beard Award-winning restaurateur with a seemingly ever-expanding empire, including Cleveland restaurants Lolita and Lola Bistro, and Roast in Detroit. Known for his love of meats, Symon is a master at topping juicy burgers with melty cheese, a skill showcased at his B Spot burger joints in Cleveland, Columbus, and Detroit. (He’s also the proud reigning champ of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash; his burger made with Castello Havarti gave him his fourth win earlier this year – “Burger domination,” he boasts.)


 

ON BURGERS:
“At B Spot we have about 15 different cheeses that we use on burgers. Creamy Havarti, to me, is the greatest burger cheese. It just melts so nicely, and the flavor’s so great.”

“I think blue cheese on a burger’s polarizing. But caramelized onions, blue cheese, and mushrooms to me are, man, so good on a burger together.”

ON HIS CAREER IN TV:
“I won Food & Wine’s Best New Chef in ’98. That was kind of when Food Network was starting out. They had me on a couple of shows, and then I was co-host of a show in ’99. [A career in TV] just happened naturally. I never went to school to be an actor or to be an on-camera personality, but I knew how to cook and I knew how to teach.”

“Although Iron Chef is fun and I loved competing, at the end of the day food isn’t a sport. Food is about bringing people together and making them happy.”

ON BEER:
“I love sour beers with cheeses. There are so many great cask-aged sours now, and I think they’re just brilliant with cheeses. There’s one out of Michigan, a company called Jolly Pumpkin, with amazing sours. I particularly love their La Roja; it’s aged in a red wine cask, which adds just the perfect note of sour that is still very refreshing.”

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of Michael Symon Restaurants

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of Michael Symon Restaurants

ON THE CHEW:
“What I love about The Chew is we get to reach over 3 million people daily and teach them how to cook delicious food from scratch that’s simple and inexpensive and very attainable. My goal from Day One has been talking to people that maybe are getting their kids fast food a couple of days a week, [saying,] “Let me show you how to make this, and make it quickly and for not a ton of money. And it will still be absolutely delicious, and you can sit down and enjoy a meal at the table with your family,” which is how I was raised.”

“Doing The Chew every day is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on, I think. It’s been a complete, complete joy.”

ON HIS UPBRINGING:
“When I was 10 years old, I was already making baklava with my mom. I was a little kid in the kitchen. I always wanted to learn how my grandparents made their sauces. I just always loved food. There wasn’t an “Oh, my gosh, I’m going to be a chef” kind of moment.”

Katie Aberbach

Always hungry for a good story, editor Katie Aberbach brings an extensive journalism background to the culture team. Formerly a food writer and editor for the Washington Post Express, Katie works to ensure that culture’s print coverage is timely, accurate, and – of course – appetizing.