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February 16, 2008


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I agree with the previous poster, it would be awesome if the show was set in Cleveland, much like Duff's show is set in Baltimore. It would be cool if it was about the days in the life of a chef. What your day is like, how you manage both restaurants, all your employees, how and where you buy your ingredients, how many hours it takes, what you do in your down time, what you like to eat..etc.. I think that would be fascinating, and your passion for food is so endearing, it would be fun to watch!


Hi!!.. been enjoying your blog :).. good luck to you on the Food Network pitch!.. I really hope it turns out because it will be something different and MUCH needed for that network! (I haven't been too pleased with the changes as of late and there are only a couple shows that I enjoy nowadays..mainly Iron Chef and Alton Brown ;)....would be great to see a local Cleveland chef on there too. :)

going over to the "dark side" and moving to the East side, eh??? ;) --just kidding! LOL! ;)...hubby works on the east side but we've always been west (and south) siders so we've stayed here (lots of family on the west so staying near them) but have to travel to see our friends on the east side still!.. we're in the process of putting our house up for sale (a little scary the way the real estate is these days) and want to build a house (so the kitchen is exactly what I want!) but I'd be interested to hear about your house and maybe we'll come check it out once it's up for sale (then we won't have to build!).. are you in Lakewood? (we used to live there and wouldn't be opposed to moving there again :)--anyway, feel free to email me because the timing would be right.

looking forward to your book---we had the great pleasure of meeting Michael and Donna Ruhlman over the holidays -can't go wrong collaborating with them!-we are now obsessed with charcuterie and have quite the little curing and smoking operation goin' on here! LOL (especially after sampling your "big board"! ;)

Good luck in all your new endeavors!--keep us posted! :) -Katy


Be yourself...the edgy quality will come through on its own. Understand that most people watching the food network are not trained chefs. Offer backround info, an insight into your inspiration, lots of instruction about technique and ingredient substitutions, if available. Personal stories and kitchen/ personnel drama make for entertaining tv, though. So please don't make it all about the food.
Cleveland is lucky to have you here. I meant to say that when I met you at Lola on Friday, instead of just gushing about you being my boyfriend! A show on location here, or at least some good plugs would be great.
Thanks for all you do!


oops! forgot to post my comments about cooking shows! ;)

I think my biggest pet peeves with the cooking shows these days is everything is "quick and easy!!" and shortcuts!.. nothing wrong with shortcuts but how about some REAL cooking and techniques? (for us cooks who know how to cook and want to learn more?!).. I always feel like people are "talking down to us" and that drives me crazy.... too much camera work that is not needed (aka "cleavage shots"..LOL), we're there for the food! (well, SOME of us are... ;).... and I'm also noticing that the latest cooks all look the same (extreme skinny minnies with heads too big for their bodies. ever notice that?? LOL---it's like, puuuuhleeease eat some of that food you are cooking, you need some meat on your bones! (:O)..it's like they are promoting these pretty cooks and personalities instead of the food!..too much "sameness" on the network.

if you can keep it real with your personality and make it fun and teach good cooking (keep it simple) that would be GREAT!... I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

as for cookbooks--I have a pretty huge collection but I would say if it's different, that's good!... I would love to see a book with good recipes but a lot of technique covered too. (your favorite "can't live without" tools and appliances I'd love to see covered also).... maybe cover timing so that, if, say, you want to cook for a large group, have a sample menu and show the timing on making each dish in the menu so you know how to best prepare the meal and get things out in the right order so it's all done at the same time! (I don't think that has ever been covered--at least not that I've seen).

good luck! -Katy


Congratulations, Michael!!! All the success couldn't come to a more deserving person.

I use to watch you on Melting Pot Memories and I thought you shone while doing the ethnic recipes.

As for what I like in a cookbook--I love pictures that show what the food looks like. I like to know that the ingredients and cookware are capable of being found locally. I would love to learn more restaurant tricks. How to make good food fast.

Lastly, I always find it charming to learn about family traditions and recipes.

Welcome to the East Side.
As ever, Susan


I just read your post about the show and book. I look forward to both. I think it is wonderful to ask for ideas from folks. If I duplicate anyone else's suggestions - my aplogies - there were so many to read my eyes went blurry.
My thoughts about a cooking show:
When I was a little girl I discovered Julia Child's French Chef show here in San Francisco on KQED - it was the original run which gives a small hint to my age (over 50 but just barely!). What I still love about it today is that she did it on a set that looked like somebody's kitchen with pots and pans that were well used and worn on everyday appliances - just like ones in everybody's kitchen. I get turned off when TV chefs cook with restaurant quality 60" stoves and $400 gizmos. Is the point to inspire the "average joe" home chef or only those who can afford the expensive ingredients and kitchen toys?
The other thing about the show was that it wasn't perfection. We got to see her mess up the same way we might. That goes a long way to making the home chef feel more confident about trying something they see on a TV cooking show or any new recipe for that matter.
A small yet annoying thing about cooking shows is when they cover/blur/repackage the ingredients. Is it free advertising to not do it - probably. Do I care - don't give a rats ass if it is free advertising cuz I would prefer knowing what someone is really using.
Cookbooks: I love them and have about 200. I can just sit and read one and be very happy without ever cooking anything out it. I like cookbooks that have photos. I like chatty books that tell something about where a recipe came from and how it developed - historically or personally - or a story about how it flopped or really succeeded. I appreciate suggestions about alternate ingredients - would it be a totally different dish if you used regular broccoli as opposed to the romanesque sort of thing. I also like ideas about what to serve with it - would you be creating a taste disaster if you served that delicate little dish with asparagus?
I like how you write your blog just like you talk. Lots of enthusiasm and no fear!


I'd love to see you on a cooking show. You are made for one! Would love to see the creative process captured in a show. I love to play chef at home and have a huge amount of respect for those of you who can do it for real. - By the way, I'm visiting from California in April and coming to Lola for the first time. Cannot wait, it all sounds amazing. Any suggestions?


I'm just in awe at the amount of replies to your post! That says it all. Reading through I saw my idea of cooking in real peoples homes with what they have on hand! Challenge the chef and teach the homeowner to think outside the box.
The book will be exciting, can't wait!!


I think a cleveland setting would be nice for the cooking show but what I would like is to learn many different terms in cooking and terms for food and how to pick out prime foods such as fresh food and meats.


Cooking shows: Lets do away with all but a handful of FN Shows. Lets keep; Alton, ICA,Giada,Ace of Cakes, Barefoot Contessa, Tyler and Jamie. The rest of it can go. If you want the kind of stuff Bourdain does however, I wouldn't be doing it on the FN. Just ask him what happened and how he ended up at Travel Channel.

As for cookbooks, I want to learn. I want a little history about some of the ingredients and I want it to not be so damn hard all I can do is look at it. ( French Laundry Cookbook)


Wow! So much going on. That's awesome.

As for Food Network/Cooking shows, you clearly have a lot of advice, but I'll boil down my opinion: I want really good food only a really good chef can teach me. I'm disenchanted with things I can imagine in my own kitchen, yet I still want the food to be approachable. I don't mind specialty ingredients, as long as everything isn't specialty, and as long as the recipe is stellar.

Oh, I'm so hoping I'll find a good cooking show again (though I do have to say I like Jamie Oliver's latest). Thanks!

Chef A.

I would really like a show that told you the where ,how and why of a recipe.There are alot of times you see something you want to make and can't find the ingredients.I want to know the carbon footprint,I want to be entertained with no clevage,I have enough of my own.You're a funny guy,make it happen


hi michael and all who are reading,

don't watch too much tv, but my current favorite book is "sunday suppers at lucques" by suzanne goin with teri gelber...
here's why:

-book is organized into the 4 chapters: 4 seasons...so i try to stick to the season when using this book as a guide...it's fun, b/c one year i stear away from a recipe for one reason or another, but the following year, based on what i've learned, i try a new menu from the book.

-all menus are based on seasonal and local....

-descriptions of why the recipe is part of the book, everything from childhood traditions to kitchen experience...it's wonderful to know where and why something is so special to include in a book...

i think that's it in a nutshell...i've learned from this book, simple things...so i'll end with that, things that we can learn....and take with us as we continue to explore the wonderful world of cooking....

thank michael for all that you do!


White On Rice Couple

What we get tired of about certain cooking shows are watching and listening to the same style of food monologue being performed behind the studio kitchen. "This is what I'm cooking today, this is how you do it, this is what it looks like when it's done". It's everywhere and it the food feels boring and uninteresting .
Personally, what we enjoy watching are shows that take us outside the kitchen to show where those vegetable came from, where the meat is sourced from, etc...
Then taking those found treasures and bringing them into the kitchen to be prepared. We get a much more appreciative sense of where the food is coming from. There are many people who have never even seen apples grow on a tree or lettuce being harvested from the farm.
So that's our thoughts. Good luck on your show!


I don't watch cooking shows because I personally don't learn a whole lot from them. Books are great, though, and I am thrilled that you will be publishing one soon! Hope you are not moving too far away from the urban core--the suburbs are so un-cool.....


What do you love and hate about cooking shows and books

Cooking shows:

Love -- I like how you said you are proposing an "edgy" style to your show. That is definitely something I like and it is what TV needs. It works for me if it is something I can apply at home on a daily basis. Tips on shopping, preparing, storing the food, etc. Also, show us what you do from start to finish. Maybe--you out there shopping, with ingrediants that most of us could find at our local stores. How and why you pick the items--your thought process behind the purchases. Obviously, the prepartion and execution of the meal would be great, but I agree with you, not in the "normal setting". Something different show-to-show would be great! Since you are a CLV guy, maybe time-to-time taking a fan shopping and then preparing the meal at his/her house. Also-- the best way then to store it for future consumption. Your tips of the trade!

Hate-- The normal, boring, cookie-cutter show. Chef behind counter shooting out quick instructions and creating a meal in 5 seconds. Nothing is that simple-- nothing. Chefs with no personality and those that have lost touch with the "real" people. It is very easy for me to switch channels when I see those individuals. One more thing-- Studio Audiences-- boring and very, very scripted.


Love -- I sound like a little kid, but yes, I love pictures. Pictures that illustrate exactly what the dish should look like. Also-- a variety of dishes from appetizers, snacks, drinks, entrees, and desserts. Pairings--meaning the entire meal from beginning to end. What appetizers to desserts would you put together. I also like the calorie, fat, all the "health" stats per serving. Those cookbooks that have a weekly meals with the ability to use some of the same ingrediants throughout. This definitely helps the readers plan grocery lists and peices it all together.

Hate: No pictures and 20 million ingrediants in each recipe. Also, ingrediants that I can't find anywhere in Heinens or other local stores. No tips of the trade- no health stats-- dishes I would never, ever, make because they are so far out there and take 10 hours to prepare and cook.

Good luck with your book and show!!


I'm with Lisa. Pictures are great, even better though are pictures that show different stages of the receipe. This way I know I'm not screwing it up too bad.


Please give some time to small farmers - show them at work with their products so we can remember where food comes from. That could be its own show of course - an hour on a small farm explaining production. I don't watch the Food Network much though.

For the book please have a good editor who checks the recipes thoroughly. Nothing worse than a sloppy cookbook with a big T when there should have been a small t instead.

Best of luck to you and your wife.

Julia O.

I love all these comments saying 'no cleavage'! Have they seen you?? I for one, love a little man cleavage, but am not a gold chain in chest hair fan for bald men. Too Telly.

The thing that production company does best is that they bring out the best in the guests & the host. No one is underestimated or pandered to, and there are no corporate tie-ins or obvious packaging of the host as a brand that makes viewers feel like they're being patted down by a pickpocket right before they lift your wallet. You, like Bourdain, have a big personality. Use it to draw out people who don't, but who are interesting food-people. Don't try to be wackier than you are, naturally. Have pity on us poor saps who grew up on Kraft dinner & fishsticks and are learning to cook in mid-life and just want to be better at it. You're a natural for demystifying elite food practices for befuddled Americans. Bourdain, Batali, Flay -- they all have more east coast snark onscreen than you do. Use that midwestern affability! And have fun, because if you aren't, we definitely can't. Good luck with the show.


What I thought shined through for you on The Next Iron Chef was your engaging personality and your love of food. These two aspects are what got me to root for you (then finding out you were a Browns fan sealed the deal). The main thing I would like to see is a show that you love to make. If it is interesting to you and fun for you then your ability, personality, and passion will make the show good.

What I would like to see from you in a show is your philosophy on food. I think the whys and hows of farm fresh cooking would be an excellent starting point for a show. The whys being easier and more obvious but need saying anyway. For the hows, I'd love to see a show that tells people how to find farmer markets through more traditional methods (not just using Google), how to approach a farmer for advice on their crop or livestock, how to select different cuts from the butcher, or even options for cuts when buying a whole hog or cow.

As for other shows / chefs that have aspects that I think fit you and could serve as inspiration for you are:

Emeril Lagasse and Rachel Ray - while the live audience aspect of their main shows is a little over the top, their ability to engage their audience is why they are "stars". I believe your passion and love of food comes through in a very similar manner that theirs does and being able to keep this aspect looking natural will engage your audience also. You don't need a damn catch phrase to do this either; if one develops naturally then go with it, don't force it.

Alton Brown - I love the educational aspects of Good Eats. While the skits are usually over the top and can turn off some people (please no skits), his show has made me a better cook. I believe you could do the same for your audience. I would love to learn some techniques from you.

Jamie Oliver - His organic / fresh ingredients passion clearly comes through in a manner that is not over the top and not preachy; this is something that I think you share with him and would love to see from you.

On a book, pictures are a must for almost all of the recipes in it (you don't need to have a picture of every variation of the same thing). Again, like the shows, I love cookbooks that make me a better cook and don't just have recipes that I can make. The more you can explain why a spice / herb combination with a cut of meat or a vegetable works with a dish can do more than I can adequately explain. Additionally, why different ingredients are added at different times and why to cook items at different temperatures and speeds will do the same.

One final thought; if you find yourself having to compromise who you are to get a show on the food network - don't do the show. It would serve you better in the long run to do a show that you love on the local PBS station then to do one that you hate on the showcase network.

Laura Ehlers

have eaten at Lolita and am eating there tomorrow night and taking in-laws, pre-cavs game. LOVE IT! I have alot of cookbooks but am hesitant to try something that sounds great with no picture. Lots of pictures please. And if you could put your Macaroni with chicken, rosemary and goat cheese recipe in there that would be great! Thanks!

Christopher Neill

Congrats on the house! I had a lot of fun growing up in Shaker (lots of little woodsy areas to get into trouble in).

They should just bring back "Melting Pot". I'd love to see more Aaron Sanchez, Wayne Harvey Brachman and company geeking around in the kitchen.

That right there was my favorite show on Food Network. Now its Sandra Lee's Gelatin and Diner's Across America Suckstravaganza.

No wonder they have Bourdain running in repeats on there -- Food TV knows they are losing their core audience now that their program schedule is a 16-hour Applebee's commercial.

The Songwriter for John Shaver

Simon says?
The Songwriter for John Shaver says you need your own personal theme song. And who else to write about a talent such as yourself but the equally talented Songwriter for John Shaver.
About 22 of my songs graced the airwaves of WKNR's Tony Rizzo show this last summer. While you were out creating your legend, I was creating the Legend of John Shaver. My most recent work was the award winning theme song of the Air Rizzy 800 shoes. These shoes, with the help of my song repeatedly played on Fox 8, were able to generate a final bid of $5000 for charity. Where will all of this take me? I don't know, but I will not rest until every man, women or thing in Cleveland has their own John Shaver song.
Went to Lola's this last summer. Food was excellent but the large table of 12, located in the middle of the room was like sitting in a wind tunnel. I hope you will have some heating/cooling people look into it. I don't know if others were bothered by it but the light fixtures above tables were literally swinging back and forth. It made for an uncomfortable dining experience for all at our table.


Two words: Boobs.


I agree with the guy that wants a food show that includes back stage at your restaurant. One channel attempted this a few years ago and utterly failed as the owner/cook was a jerk, he had no clue how to develop and run a restaurant, his fiancial backer was also a jerk. It turned what might have been an exciting series into a mess that no one wanted to watch. You are a successful restaurant owner and operator and I think an audience would be interested in watching you do it. Your story about the patron at table 3 last week was hilarious. I would love to see how you prepare yourself for a food contest or how you prepare for a benefit. More of these backstage peeks good show might make.

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