11 Things You Didn’t Know About Michael Symon

1

He graduated from the CIA.

Celebrating Paul Bocuse: Paul Bocuse arrives on campus for the grand opening of The Bocuse Restaurant at The Culinary Institute of America’s Hyde Park

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The Culinary Institute of America, that is. Michael is a member of the class of 1990, and is one of many notable alumni from the cooking school: the late Anthony Bourdain, Todd English, and Roy Choi also attended.

2

His first job was at a pizza and rib joint.

Friday night. Cleveland. Gym and errands done. Now pizza. Wine. Netflix. Chill. �� #Cleveland #pizza #wine #fridaynight #geppettospizza #216 #mykindofnight

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Before culinary school, Michael was just a teen in Cleveland, Ohio who looked up to his friend’s dad, the owner of Geppetto’s Pizza and Ribs. At 14, Michael got a job as a rib cook at the joint, prepping stations in the kitchen and finishing off ribs on the grill. From there, he was hooked. As he told Thrillist: “I was so instantly, spontaneously in love with the business that every day was fun for me.”

3

He met his wife in a restaurant.

Good bye Paris!…Thank you for giving @lizsymon and I 4 days of magic!…Now back to reality..time to shave & get back to work!…Happy New Year everyone! #muchlove #detoxtime #pantsdontfit #magicplace

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Michael and Liz Symon have been married for nearly 20 years, and it all started in a restaurant. Liz was the front-of-house manager at Players, where Symon had his first job after college. A few years later, Michael asked her to come work at another restaurant he had moved to, and soon after they started dating. The two never had children together, but Liz had a son from her first marriage.

4

He’s credited with reviving the Cleveland food scene.

FACT: #Sundays are for B Spot ����❤️ #SunDaze

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A Cleveland native, Michael has opened several restaurants in the city, including Lola and Mabel’s BBQ. His hometown pride runs deeper than just eats — Michael’s favorite team is the Cleveland Browns, and he appeared in several “This is Cleveland” advertisements when the city was refurbishing its downtown.

5

You can eat his food at a basketball game.

Little pregame on the sidelines w/ @lizsymon … the boys are looking good…I smell a W… go @clevelandbrowns

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Michael’s favorite sport may be football, but his food can be eaten while watching a game of hoops. In 2009, The B-Spot and Bar Symon outposts opened up in the Quicken Loans Arena, home to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The spots serve up burgers, milkshakes, salads, fries, and onion rings.

6

He’s all over the Food Network.

new season of #BurgersBrewQue premieres tonight @ 10pm on @FoodNetwork!!! gettin meaty with @chefcapon & @michaelstrahan

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It’s safe to say Michael is an integral part of the Food Network family. Besides his current show, Burgers, Brew & ‘Que, Michael has appeared on Melting Pot, Iron Chef America, Food Nation with Bobby Flay, and The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

7

He was with ‘The Chew’ from the beginning.

Thank you everyone…what a great ride!

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Michael was a co-host on all seven seasons of The Chew, which ended its 1,500-episode run in June 2018. In a Facebook post, Michael summed up his time on the show with this: “I truly loved going to work everyday and can’t thank all the fans enough … I also want to thank the 150 ppl that have worked on the show and have become like family … I can say without hesitation it was the most fun I have ever had doing TV and it was because of these fantastic people.”

8

He’s written five cookbooks.

I couldn’t be more thrilled that my new book PLAYING WITH FIRE is finally on sale today. the recipes in this book are inspired by some of the best BBQ I’ve tasted around the country…dry ribs from memphis, wet ribs from nashville, brisket from texas, burnt ends from kansas city, and of course some of my cleveland-style favorites from @bbqmabels…get the book and get cooking! If you make something you love, share using #playingwithfire. i can’t wait to see what you make…

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The latest, Playing With Fire, came out in April. It’s focused on BBQ and live-fire grilling, and has recipes inspired by one of his Cleveland restaurants, Mabel’s BBQ. An earlier cookbook, Live to Cook, includes a foreword by his pal Bobby Flay.

BUY NOW Playing With Fire, $22, amazon.com

9

There are two foods he won’t eat.

Kyle started doing these donut sundaes @grindstonecoffee …oh man I’m in trouble these are so deeeliscious

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As a chef and food television host, there’s not much Michael won’t try. But don’t offer him raspberries or kiwi … as he’s told fans on Twitter, he is allergic to both.

10

His award shelf is stacked.

thanks @chicagomag !

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Michael won Best Burger at the Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival three years in a row, earned a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Informative Talk Show Host (with his The Chew co-hosts), and a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Great Lakes.

11

His guilty pleasure is straight outta Cleveland.

If you’re from NE Ohio you know this is the best chip dip ever made. ❤️�� . . . . #lawsonschipdip #lawsonsdip #neohio #ohio #enjoylife #sassy #redhairdontcare #livelife #lovelife #chipdip #instafood #instaeats #instasnacks #keepitreal

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According to his website, Michael’s guilty pleasure is salt and vinegar chips and Lawson’s Dip. It came from a since-closed grocery store of the same name, and can still be found at Circle K stores in the midwest. As for his favorite beer — that would be Jolly Pumpkin La Roja.

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