Chef Michael Symon ’90, Cleveland’s Hometown Chef

Michael Symon '90 gives a cooking demonstration for CIA students
Michael Symon ’90 gives a cooking demonstration for CIA students

CIA Alumni Bio

Renowned in the culinary world and adored in his hometown of Cleveland, Michael is the executive chef and owner of the Symon Restaurant Group whose stable of eateries include Lola, three locations of B Spot Burgers, and Mabel’s BBQ in Cleveland, OH; Bar Symon located at the Pittsburgh International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport; Roast at the Westin Hotel in the historic Book Cadillac building in Detroit, MI; and Angeline at the Borgata in Atlantic City, named after Michael’s Italian grandmother. In December 2018, Michael entered the Las Vegas dining scene with Mabel’s BBQ at The Palm, a 250-seat meatery with three custom smokers. In January 2019, he followed with the opening of Sara’s, a secret 45-seat “meateasy” supper club tucked inside Mabel’s, which brings back old school Vegas style of eating.

A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Michael’s pedigree includes being named one of the Ten Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine in 1998 and receiving a James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef Great Lakes in 2009.

Born to a family of Greek, Sicilian, and Eastern European heritage, food played an integral part in his childhood. Michael started cooking in high school when a broken arm ended his competitive wrestling days. Returning to Cleveland after graduating from the CIA, Michael work at Players, Picolo Mondo, Giovanni’s, and The Caxton Cafe before launching Lola Bistro in 1997 followed by Lolita in 2005. He stepped out of the kitchen appearing on the Iron Chef in 2005 and, in 2007, was a winner of Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef. Michael was one of the rotating hosts for Food Network’s Melting Pot series and appeared on Sara’s Secrets with Sara Moulton ’77, the Ready, Set, Cook program,  No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain ’78, Food Nation with Bobby Flay, Dinner: Impossible, The Best Think I Ever Ate, and served as a mentor on All-Star Academy. He has also appeared on the Cooking Channel’s Cook Like an Iron Chef, Symon’s Suppers, Food Feuds, and Burgers, Brews & ‘Que.

Michael has been featured in national magazines such as Gourmet, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Saveur, Food Arts, Esquire and O, The Oprah Magazine. He served as a co-host of the popular ABC daytime talk show, The Chew, for seven seasons and has contributed recipes to the series’ cookbooks The Chew: What’s for Dinner; The Chew: Food. Life. Fun.; The Chew Quick & Easy: Stress-Free Recipes for Every Occasion; The Chew: An Essential Guide to Cooking and Entertaining: Recipes, Wit, and Wisdom from The Chew Hosts; and The Chew: A Year of Celebrations: Festive and Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion. Michael was the recipient along with co-hosts Clinton Kelly, Carla Hall, Daphne Oz, and Mario Batali of the 2015 Emmy award for Outstanding Informative Talk Show Host and the 2016 Emmy for Outstanding Informative Talk Show for The Chew.

Michael was a spokesperson for Vita-Mix and a brand ambassador for Calphalon, developed a line of cookware called Michael Symon Live to Cook Collection by Weston, and partnered with Ergo Chef in the design and creation of Michael Symon Cutlery. He was featured in Michael Ruhlman’s The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Towards Perfection. Symon went on to collaborate with Ruhlman in 2009 with the creation of his first cook book entitled Live to Cook: Recipes & Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen. In 2012, Michael released Carnivore: 120 Recipes for Meat Lovers. A segment on the first season of The Chew was the inspiration behind the 2013 cookbook Michael Symon’s 5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners and the follow up, Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 For Every Season: 165 Quick Dinners, Sides, Holiday Dishes, and More released in 2015. In 2018, in collaboration with Douglas Trattner, he released Michael Symon’s Playing with Fire: BBQ and More from the Grill, Smoker, and Fireplace. In 2019, Michael again partnered with Douglas Trattner for the new book Fix It with Food: More Than 125 Recipes to Address Autoimmune Issues and Inflammation.

In 2010, Michael was the first chef ever to host the annual Farm Aid benefit concert and he actively supports Share Our Strength, Urban Community Schools, and Autism Speaks.

When he’s not working, Michael enjoys riding his motorcycle, cooking at home, playing golf, contemplating his next tattoo, gardening in the backyard, and spending time with his wife and business partner, Lizzie, and their dog, and Old English Bulldog named Ozzy.

Chef Michael Symon majored in culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. He is a media personality and executive chef and owner of the Symon Restaurant Group in Cleveland, OH and Las Vegas, NV.