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February 16, 2008


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Glad to hear you are working on a show idea.... one thing I always liked was where the chef would go into peoples homes and cook a great meal with the stuff in the fridge and cupboards. That would be a good episode... but for an overall feel, some thoughts...

1. Cooking with items viewers can work with... no Foie Gras and stuff like that.

2. People like seeing Symon because of your sense of humor and the "fun-ness" you bring to the viewer. Keep your humor.

3. I would like to see an epiosde of you running your restaurant.... and if you are going to start a new restaurant somewhere, it would be awesome to see it as a reality type show where we get to see what goes into opening a new place.

4. No costumes and gimmicks (ala Alton Brown on Good Eats.) That's funny the first time he does it, but it gets old quick.

5. Seeing what it takes to be a celebrity chef... the flights, the schedule, etc (which reminds me I've sat in first class with you a number of times flying into LGA, but never bothered you and have crossed paths with you at Giant Eagle once in North Olmsted.)

6. Sauces, sauces and more sauces. I'd love to know how to make those, what works well together and why.

7. Reality, the Food Network is missing a full blown cooking reality styled show (no set, no phony audience.) I don't need to see Bourdain eat a raw cow on the floor of a third-world country. I don't want to be grossed out.

Whatever you come up with, I'm certain it will be a top show. Food Network needs some new flair... I still love the channel, but too much RR, Paula Dean, Alton Brown gets old after a while. We need something fresh. Iron Chef America competition was a great show because it had all new faces.


One other thought... maybe a show incorporating the local Cleveland talent with you... like Mike Sokolowski and some others from around the area.


For cookbook: No cookbook would be complete without the recipe for that vanilla champagne vinaigrette (or whatever it specifically is) that is served on your apple/pear/blue cheese salad at Lola. The single best and most surprising we've ever tasted. Indescribable. Wow!

As for cooking shows --- the whole "not taking food too seriously - and yet taking it so seriously" aspect of the Bourdain show is what makes it great. He loves and respects nothing more than food - but sort of lets it happen - goes with the flow (which I have no doubt MS will do). By the same token, there are some food/cooking shows on that scream "I'm the expert and here are the 47 things you have to do with this recipe to make it like I did and I'm the greatest, BTW" and those can be boring and make food/cooking seem so regimented and not "alive" I guess.

I like getting actual recommendations of places the chef likes to eat, shop --- what equipment they like to use. (If it impresses a chef like MS - it's probably good enough for me) Neat tips of how to slice this or how to cook that. Also fun to see chef' actual chef or celebrity friends interact, where that happens (not in contrived situations...)

A mix of fun, practical, informative, irreverant and entertaining would the perfect one. On site or in studio.. or both.


I should have noted - like some above - Nigella Lawson, Ina Garten and Alton Brown all do cooking/food shows that don't take themselves too seriously. You feel these folks would just as soon be doing the show for 2 people as they would for 2 million. They love what they do. They make everything they do look so good and make it fun in the process.

Derrick R.

Chef Symon,

One thing i hate about cooking shows is that the chefs that host the show are not chefs chef, meaning a legit chef would never be caught watching these "chefs". Thats what i like about bourdain is that hes in my opinion a chefs chef, hes a no bullshit chef. The same thing goes for cook books as well. the french laundry cook book is a chefs book. bobby flay is not. i know you are a chefs chef i just hope you dont change.

Derrick R.

David Lay

Sounds very exciting indeed! You deserve the success you're enjoying!


Hi Michael,
First, I would like to be in competition with Amy for your house...I'm guessing it is already sold.

About your show I have two suggestions: 1. Make sure you always laugh...your signature laugh is great and it makes people feel at ease.
2. How about a type of show where you pick one topic and thoroughly explore it for the whole 30 or 60 minutes. Example: Pork Cheeks. Most people watching the food network for entertainment (and not actually cooking at the same time as watching) do not know which cheek of the pig a pork cheek comes from. You could start with that and then move on to how to acquire the best cheek from the butcher, how to clean and trim, then how to cook (several ways), eat and store the leftovers. It would be nice to see one type of food thoroughly explored. And you could do on site shots of you purchasing the cheeks (a la bobby flay)and eating.

Side note:I don't like live audience cooking shows (except Iron Chef because they don't get too much camera time). You are the star, not the audience.

And for the book, please have one photo per recipe so I can see what it is supposed to look like when complete. My mom has taught me not to use a cookbook that doesn't have photos. That would be like trusting a skinny chef!

Finally, thank you for stopping by my table at Lolita on Friday the 8th. You are a gracious host and I was so floored to finally talk with you after being a huge fan for some time now. And thank you for letting us snap a photo with you. It is framed at my desk at work.

All the Best to you and Liz.

Live to Eat Lola Fries,


Welcome to the east side! I run around the Shaker Lakes all the time. It's beautiful.

As for cookbooks, I love pictures and also ideas for substitutions in case you don't have all the ingredients or want to try something different with the flavor.



Brian Torri


So many of us are so happy for you, for not only your success over the last year, but for actually staying in Cleveland and doing what you do best there. Is there any way they can shoot the show in Cleveland? I would really like it if you could do that to show folks how to get stuff from stores that aren't in major cities, like Alton's trips through that supermarket he always hits in Atlanta. LoPresti's, I'm sure, has ways of helping you out, for example. And my mom is sending me a copy, paper or PDF, I don't know, of the article from St. Ed's, of your recent doings, which, to me, along with that banner over W. 14th St. at Lincoln Park (anyone who's in Cleveland on vacation or business should see it, I think), is just a reminder of how much Cleveland in large part just flat out roots for you each and every time they can. Not to mention the commendation from City Council...

Any chance you can capture some of that in a cooking show, the particularness, if you will, of Cleveland as a location, an influence among the many other influences in your cooking? Chefs, like many other professions, are not simply made, they come from places and bear the marks of their raising in several ways. What I really like about watching you is how strong a sense of humor you have and how down to earth you are _at the same time that you are so intense and utterly committed to kicking butt_ like on the Iron Chef competitions.

That said, I like Alton's way with equipment in the kitchen and how he talks about things. What I haven't often seen yet are discussions of good knives and knife technique. Alton did one show on that and essentially had to do a whole show on it, giving us recipes that played off of whatever cooking technique he had at the time. I think the one thing many of us who are fans of cooking shows don't realize is how hard it is for you folks to select how much of any one part of the cooking process to do/show on air and still keep the momentum going. Another good example of knife technique was something Robert Irvine showed one of his relatively amateur assistants (from the site he was sent to work at) how to cut an onion, which I've always found hard to do at the ends.

As for the east side, I think they've done a wonderful job redeveloping the old Kaufmann's/Macy's site at Cedar and Warrensville. I think you'll find that interesting, as is the redevelopment of Severance Town Center, where they have a really nice Border's. Coventry is always fun, but you'll just have to get used to all of the curving, looping streets and numerous six point and crazy-angled intersections over there. And yes, I moved to the Chicago area from Cleveland, graduated from Cleveland State and had my youngest brother go to St. Ed's.

We hope you do us proud and I'd say just go ahead and do your show and your book in your own voice without even thinking about that. I trust you, and I think you can get lots of other viewers to trust you too. Good luck and God bless.



heather ... we r starting to show the house today... so if u have an interest u can email me at michael@lolabistro.com...thx, ms


The thing I really love to see on cooking shows is when the chef offers substitutions and shortcuts for the basic recipe. Obviously, you aren't going to substitute chicken for tripe or something silly, but I love it when a cooking show says WHY an ingredient is included so that I know if I am adding something for an acidic note, if I'm out of lemons could I add a dash of vinegar instead. Obviously, it wouldn't taste exactly the same but would it work? That kind of thing.

When I go out with my shopping list, sometimes an ingredient doesn't look so fresh or isn't available. I wanted to make scallion pancakes the other day and the scallions were really awful looking and I didn't want to go to another store as that was the only ingredient for my meal that I was lacking. So, I subbed shallots and they were fine. Not exactly the same, but it worked for my purposes. I love knowing tips and tricks of that nature. Not every recipe works out with a different ingredient, but when they do, it's great to have that knowledge.


Sounds like you got too much on your plate :*)

Yet, with your sense of humor, you shall enjoy the craziness.

Earlier poster Banksy said:

"2. People like seeing Symon because of your sense of humor and the "fun-ness" you bring to the viewer. Keep your humor."

Hire some non-cook people to be on your T.V. show. Like a juggler who throws dozens of plates in the air. You know---kinda like a circus atmosphere.

Do you remember the comedian Steve Allen? His television show was live and always lively. Broadcast the kitchen bloopers along with the successful outcome of a menu accomplished.

Good luck with your upcoming projects---stay prolific....

Carole Cohen

Wow Michael and congratulations on all the adventures. Can't wait to buy the book so write fast LOL. And congratulations on being a Clevelander willing to cross the River. I moved back here in 1997 after being gone for decades....and am still amazed at the 'divide' as another commenter has mentioned. I sell houses now and can't tell you the number of times people say 'oh no I can't live there it's across the River' and you can plug in East or West to that comment depending on where they are now.

Much continued success - and when your house gets listed on our MLS I will do everything I can to sell it LOL

Douglas Craver

Congrats on all the great news. Nice move on partnering with zero pt zero. I'm a big Bourdain fan...his Cleveland episode was point on...and think his show is one of the best.

What makes it one of the best is Bourdain is equally gifted as a writer as he is a chef. So if you're not a writer yourself make sure you find one as good as Anthony to write for your new show.


We are looking for a house on the west side with a pimped out kitchen, and would love to know more about the one you are planning on selling! It would save us the time and trouble of renovating one, so if you could give more info, and what city on the west side is it in, that would be awesome! Thank you.


Chef Symon,

I hope you get to see this - me and my girlfriend drove from NYC to Cleveland this weekend and had dinner at Lolita on Saturday night. You must have been leaving as we were being seated, we wanted to say hi, but we missed you.

We both wanted to let you know that it was one of the best meals we've ever had, and totally worth the drive. Your staff, by the way, is incredible.

Thanks for a great restaurant, and giving us a reason to come to Cleveland.

- Rob and Amanda


We went to Lolita's tonight for the 1st time. It was a wonderful experience. Wow, the employees were so kind and sweet to all of us, and made my 4 yr. old feel like a "Princess"! When I asked about the new Iron Chef, I was told "you are their favorite boss"! The food? OMG. It was heavenly.

I'm a food network junkie, and I can tell you that I hate shows that travel and showcase meals on a budget, giada's adventures, the dean boys driving and giving each other brotherly comments. I like cooking shows that teach. I liked that your restaurant is focused on local farmer fresh ingredients. It really showed through in your restaurant. I liked you on the next Iron Chef challenge, because you chose to be "YOU". It's so refreshing to see "nice guys finish 1st"! Your staff speaks very highly of you. Be real and you'll be fine.


I have some rockin' ideas. Have your people contact my people : ).

Welcome to the east side!


I love to cook and truly enjoyed The Next Iron Chef. This blog is one of the few I read regularly!

In both cooking shows and cookbooks, I would like to see two things (details below)...
1) A reflection of the host's personality
2) An instruction that teaches me how to cook, not simply how to make a collection of individual dishes.

1) To make a show or book authentic, I like the little imperfections - the local vernacular, the passion showing through, times where you "break the rules" of traditional cooking or differentiate from the way you were taught and WHY you do it that way. I like to get the inside track rather than simply the boring party line.

2) There is a place in any cookbook or show for a collection of a few favorite recipes, but I want to learn method more than simply specific applications. Instead of telling me to use one sliced onion, tell me about why sliced instead of diced – or even better, why YOU prefer to use a sliced onion. At the end of an episode or book, I will then have something to think about – a method to apply to other dishes. Eventually, I will learn specific flourishes of your cuisine along with transferable cooking knowledge.

There’s my .02 cents. I look forward to more cooking with Professor Symon!


Love: 1-To see the chef's true personality. Not a whitewashed, TV approved version of said personality. 2- To see a chef truly excited about cooking (not repeating a well scripted "doesn't that look yummo?" 12 times an episode.

Hate: 1- Recipes that come with no backstory... If your grandma taught you how to make that tell me what the hell was her name was!
2- Super, highly stylized food photos. Not they're not gorgeous... but what is the thing REALLY gonna look like if I try to make it? Hm???

Congratulations on all the good stuff coming your way. Take the time to appreciate it all!!!



Hi Michael! Congrats on all the exciting things going on for you and your wife!

- pictures are important b/c they give the reader a sense how to present the dish
- keeping it simple (obviously this depends on how complex the dish is): I like to cook, but I'm still learning the basic methods, for example, proportion of olive oil to vinegar for a vinegarette. If your targeted readers are someone like me, who love to cook and experiment by starting with dishes that are not too complex or refined, then it's important to me that the list of ingredients is not long, and that all the steps in preparing a dish all fit on 1 page.
- colors!
- Stories are great! Especially what each dish means to you. They help us, the readers, connect and relate to you through the dish.

cooking show:
- vibrant personality (which you are nothing but, so you are set there)
- i REALLY don't like it when the star of the show gets sloppy and allow sauces to drip down the side of the pan; it's important to me for the chef/cook to be as clean and neat as possible
- really take the time to explain each step
- it'd be awesome for a chef to make the connection (to make it more obvious) between the major principles and methods behind the dish and how it's prepared

I can't wait for the shirts!!


okay.......i know what i want. call me crazy, i do not care. this is what I want!!!!

first of all, i need awesome personalities on a show to keep me entertained. you may think this is insano-crazy weird, but I watch a lot of Shopping with Chefs on fine living, starring David myers & Jill davie, because not only is the show entertaining but the hosts are informative. if it is scripted it sure doesn't sound that way. not to mention, Jill & David give you advice throughout the show. Ya know, "I'm not crazy about the nonstick on this roasting pan" or "This is the same grill I use at home!" How would I like to see you on TV?

1. Funny & laughing

2. Informative, something you say makes me say "Omg I didn't know THAT!" Something I can tell my very culinarily-wise 10-year-old sister and smirk while I'm saying it because she doesn't already know (whenever we see geese roaming around we always scream in unison "Free foie gras!")

3. Tell stories about why you are doing this/that or why you like this/that

Now about the book......

1. How about telling stories of how you got into this business and what it was like growing up in such a great culinary family (I'm half English and half Scottish, but your ethnicity has always fascinated me)? I am always hungry for lots of back story and lots of pictures. I am IN LOVE with good pictures!!!

2. Yummy recipes that I would be able to cook for family dinner parties or to impress my high school friends - stuff that's amazingly delicious and impressive but not, ya know, $100 a head fine-dining food (but just as yummy and impressive of course).

3. Offal would be good. Really interested in learning how to cook it. Isn't Cosentino putting out an offal cookbook this year?

If I get any more ideas I will comment on them....I hope this helps you!!!

Catherine, 13


Oh, and another idea about your new show...,

This is probably one of the most hare-brained ideas ever spawned, but here goes.

I have always fantasized about a cook's show where instead of just being able to order a book at program's end, actually being able to order a rendition of the actual meal one has just seen prepared on the program.

I wouldn't care if it weren't made personally be the TV chef or if it was frozen and overnighted or what, I would pay for it.

Money could be made for you, the network, and foodies would be happy. Your ratings would probably rise since people would tune in to see what's available for that episode.

I submit to you, "It's THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK of a cooking show?"

If it sounds too crazy, so be it. If it's worth considering, "Remember you heard it here FIRST, folks!"




i wanna show that pits you against other chefs in a death match. i would love to see you end ina or rachael ray ala Mortal Kombat. or at least beat up Bourdain. Seriously, a show for real peeps, not fluffed up, pretentious morons. aim high, my friend, for those who can handle the big words and enjoy a beer at a pig roast.


RE: The new house. I'd be less disappointed if by "east side" you meant NYC. It's very charitable of you to join Ruhlman in your futile attempt to balance out C-Town, but why bother when any self-respecting West Sider can tell you there isn't a good reason to go any further east than University Circle & Little Italy?

RE: the cookbook. I disagree with others on compromising on ingredients. Suggestions for replacements are great, but specific places where the preferred ingredients can be found are even better.

RE: the cooking show. Your use of the word "edgy" scares me in the same way that the term "bad-boy" in reference to Bourdain or anyone else who cooks for a living amuses me. My only advice would be to stay true to your Midwestern roots, refuse to be reduced to a marketing gimick, and forego style for substance.

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