Besides my Polish grandmother, no one, except Chef Michael Symon, has done more for the humble pierogi. Using his father’s recipe, Chef Symon incorporated the lowly dumpling into gourmet cuisine by stuffing it with lobster and crab. Chef Symon calls upon his heritage, whether it’s his mother’s Greek and Sicilian ancestors, or his father’s Eastern European roots , and refines the best examples of those cuisines. He also likes to throw in a dash of Cleveland, avoiding pretension and striving for accessibility in his food.
At Lolita and the soon to reopen Lola in Cleveland, along with his New York City venture Parea, Chef Symon is practicing what might be classified as New Midwestern Cooking, a unique style that has earned him honors such as Food and Wine Best New Chef, a James Beard nomination, multiple appearances on the Food Network including an Asparagus battle with Iron Chef Morimoto, and even his own chapters in the book, Soul of a Chef.
In this week’s podcast, I spoke with Mike Symon about curing his own meats, James Beard, his Iron Chef dream ingredient, and what’s going on in his new restaurants.