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March 12, 2008


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I bet it feels, especially seeing how far Matt Harlan has come,as though you have raised your own kids. I can only imagine how rewarding it is for you.


work ethic and desire to succeed will just not do it unless there is an excellent teacher as well. pat yourself on the back a little. they owe, at least some of who they are, to you.

Chef Bill Bailey

Ten Years at one restaurant...That's unheard of in our loyal-less industry.


unfortunately Bill lack of loyalty is not just in the restaurant industry, its everywhere.

Brooke Slater

It is a great tribute to you and your talents having helped inspire and teach your former employees. I can attest to having had great teachers and inspiring architects and landscape architects help me begin my landscape design business. Having the support of those who have achieved such greatness keeps us motivated and continuing to reach for the stars. My husband and I are very excited for your continued success and thank you for inspiring us entreprenuers. You are an amazing chef and a great treat to watch on television as well as dine at Lola & Lolita.


Some thoughts:


Kudos to you for 'raising' such great chefs. I just ate at Lolita last night and can attest to what a great job your staff is doing there. I had three Beta's while I was there, so take that for what it's worth!

Brian Torri

Loyalty like that is what Cleveland is all about. I moved there in 1987, and it was so much like the small town I grew up in. People just stick with people who stick with them, like Michael has with Mr. Harlan. They stay in one place, raise a family, and become pillars of their communities. And thank God there are still people like Michael in the world who take a chance on young talent like this and just give them a start, who can trust themselves to do that.

If you've got a great job with a great boss, people I knew would generally stick with it and enjoy the sense of belonging that would come with being in one place for so long. And think of it from the other end, too: Michael has to be creating the kind of environment one would *want* to stay in for ten years. It's not just about employee loyalty to him; it's a two way street.

By the way, Michael, as I deliver the mail out here in Chicago and can never, ever make it back to Cleveland to see my family for Christmas, I am set on going to Lola for my birthday party in January 2009, and we may even share/expand the occasion to include celebrating my brother Steve earning his Ph.D. in computer science the preceding December. I hope to personally thank you for all you do to not only cook good food and provide a worthy restaurant experience, but how, in so doing, you make much of the Cleveland area proud of you and, I think, give them some hope that they too can succeed in some way in their own way in life as you have. I think that that banner over W. 14th Street at Lincoln Park speaks in some small way to the pride in your accomplishments and the hope it inspires in a town and a region that needs it.

Keep being the good man that makes this all possible, and I think we'll all grow old together.

And yes, I realize often lately that if I'm not old yet (I'm 38), I'm no longer young, either.

I'm proud of you and your accomplishments, and I look forward to smiling at more of the same.


They may not have been old enough to drink, but you were. And I'll bet they made you drink heavily. ;-)


I read The Soul of a Chef recently - Matt Harlan as in Chatty Matty? he really must have come a long way! your restaurant must be amazing, chef Symon! I've always read that if you don't feel welcome or, just plain "right", I guess, you leave. You must be a pretty inviting soul if this guy's been with you for 10 years!!

And I'm not very old..14 in 2 months to be exact..but I kinda wish I was. I want to be a chef and I want to have the oppurtunity to work with great chefs of my parents' generation like you; my mom and dad are both about your age, give or take a year or two; Oh well..even if I don't I suppose I could always lead the charge for the new generation of chefs (and, at least, work with the kids of you older chefs)! I'm not afraid! I'll make my way someday. Maybe ppl will hear about me..who knows. I guess I can keep dreaming until cold reality kicks in and I realize how much culinary school costs..lol(better break out the piggy bank NOW)

btw, i still listen to your CIA Chef podcast when i need a boost. it really lifts my spirits. it reminds me that it ain't over yet..really, it hasn't even begun. In my case anyway.

Catherine, 13


Wow. What praise from a man who must be an inspiring teacher to foster such talent.

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it wouldn't be a chef/cooking blog without a little spam! :-/


Koodos to a Chef who acknowledges, leads and mangages PEOPLE!! You realize/d potential in people first and then trained them to be Chefs and leaders..ultimately restaurant owners! Having entered the chef world in my 30's, now 39, I am always looking for Chefs that I can work for that acknowledge potential and take themselves out of the picture and teach their workers by example.. Thanks for the effort you put into your career.

Joe Hartman

Love the blog, especially the places you talk about other chefs. My wife and I travel weekly so we are always looking for places to eat that may not show up on everyone's lists.

I'm sure it is just a type caused by overly helpful spelling correction but Josh Kabat's place is Reddstone not Red Stone. Looking forward to going there on my next trip to Cleveland.


I love Bar Cento. I only wish the Oxtail pizza could have lasted longer than one visit on the menu.

I'll have to try Reddstone.

Nora Knople

Dear Mr. Symon,

I believe from reading the above comments that you are someone who got where he is because of hard work, pure talent and the manner in which he treats his customers and potential customers. This is why I feel promted to contact you.

I was in Cleveland this weekend with my husband and brother (who came here from southern Indiana to eat at your place). We were not here for the MAC tournament we simply came to try Lola's. It was 15 mins until 5 when we arrived at Lola's. We stood out front for a bit as the hours said 5pm was the opening time and we were unsure if we could at least be seated 15 mins before opening or not. It was terribly cold outside and another couple asked us if the place was open yet or not to which I replied that the doors open at 5pm. The lady in the couple tried the door and we all went in because it was unlocked. We thought we could get a drink while we waited 10 mins at this point and it would be no trouble. It was only 10 mins at this point until the opening. The man at the door promptly told us that they were not open yet. I said that it was only 10 mins 'til, could we just sit at the bar and wait for a table because its so cold out. He pushes all 5 of us, (my husband, brother, the other couple and myself) out the door and tells us we have to leave and then locks the door behind us. We all left. He was very rude to us. We invited the other couple to come with us and find another place to eat where we would be seated now because we did not have to be treated that way. It was only 15 mins. Was it necessary to shove us out the door in to the cold and then lock the door behind us? I just wanted you to know. I do not plan to ever eat there again, nonetheless, I hope the best for you and all the success.

Nora Knople, C. Ht.


Out With The Old New and In With The New Old

Yes, as the sands of time flow we must accept the "genius" of the future. We make a peanut butter and sandwich for the young, and then they learn to cook a steak. Can the old gracefully accept being obsolete? Can they tread to the elephant grave yard with their trunks held high? The virtuoso cooks of today will become the maestro chefs for tomorrow. If you taught them the path to cooking success you created the monster.

Just think---one day (when you are REALLY old and gray) those hard working pros just might make you a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich... :*)


i saw you on 'iron chef' and you kicked ass...
as does your blog.

glad to have come across you!


i saw you on 'iron chef' and you kicked ass...
as does your blog.

glad to have come across you!


Congrats on the Beard nomination ( Best Chef Great Lakes). Very well deserved!


buddy s. cajayon

hi michael,

i'm your fan here in the philippines, i would like to congatulate you for winning the "next iron chef". you really are my bet. i hope you can visit us here in the philippines. i love your tattoo.=) pls. reply on my email number..thanks very much and God Bless!

buddy s. cajayon

hi mr symon,

what i mean is my email add =)


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