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March 25, 2008


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Patricia Biesen

Hi Michael, I just wanted to say I enjoy reading your blog. You mentioned Chicago. I live in the Lincoln Square neighborhood and it is filled with great restaurants and a lot of ethnic foods. You must check it out the next time you are in town. When you walk down the street you'll hear a bit of Korean, Asian, German and well . . . Chicago-ese.



Ahh...you can beat Chicago chefs!

A shame I hate Vegas, as now I'll never get to eat at Mario's steakhouse. Or your restaurant, should you choose to open one there. ;) I have eaten at Mesa Grill though (both Vegas and NY), and I agree that BF is underrated as a chef. Perhaps because he's too visible and maybe his tv persona is a tad obnoxious. I hope your new tv career only enhances your reputation as a chef.


I found your blog through Adam over at Amateur Gourmet.
I've always wanted to go to Vegas- I could care less about the gambling but would LOVE to eat my way down the Vegas Strip!
It is so nice to read about chefs who are down to earth real people. As a beginner/spectator in the food world, it is inspiring to me to see someone who seems genuinely thankful for the people around him and isn't all wrapped up in the celebrity thing.
You are the perfect example of a nice guy not finishing last!

Natalie Sztern

Why would u not offer Frank more of an incentive to stay such as a piece of the action...considering he sounds like a valuable asset not just as a friend and knowing he wants more of a guarantee for his family-good business sense is not to lose such a valuable asset...but then i can't imagine owning two restaurants and a busy career in the television entity and not having trustworthy people behind the scenes with something to lose if the goods go down in value


natalie..we take very good care of our employees..which is why frankie was with us for 15 years..it was a case of him wanting a 9-5 non restaurant job and being able to spend time with his family...live to cook, ms


I don't think anyone who has eaten at one of your restaurants, or has talked to anyone on your team, can't help but notice the fearless loyalty. Everyone that we've ever met obviously loves their working environment. Something special is going on there, and it translates into the experience.

I agree that, if you can brush aside that East Coast bravado, Chef Flay is highly underrated. He certainly demonstrates a passion for what he does!



How bittersweet Frank's departure must be. I'm guessing it was just as difficult for him as it was for you.

Mucho congrats on the nomination! Fingers crossed here.


i've also had a few great meals at mesa in vegas. bobby flay's "problem" isn't his food or restaurants, it's that he's been overexposed and pimped on the food network.


Vegas may be great...but a place for you to check out is Hudson...the Inn at Turners Mill is for sale and you coul pack the place...just a thought...Greg


Congrats on the James Beard finals. You certainly deserve it.


ms quote: "we take very good care of our employees..which is why frankie was with us for 15 years..it was a case of him wanting a 9-5 non restaurant job and being able to spend time with his family"

I am not in the restaurant business. My question is---if a typical restaurant day is way beyond 8 hours---what would 15 years in your business be using the typical 40 hour week as a yard stick.

It must be at least 20 years.

bob mcgee

It's always been a cool/weird thing for me that most of the time, when cooks/chefs leave the restaurant job, it's usually about family. It's really inspiring to me. This industry can break people, and turn you old too quick. It's such a hard and commendable decision he's made. I reread Soul of a Chef a couple of weeks ago, and was reinspired towards the kinship of the line. It's bittersweet, I know.


Michael - We have several out of country guests in town for the next several weeks. They would love to not only experience the atmosphere of Lola, but would like to do so when you will be onsite. Are there certain days you definitely will or definitely will not be there during the next 2-3 weeks? Most likely a week-night since the weekends seem pretty booked up. Thank you in advance!! Nice job with the rabbit on the most recent Iron Chef.



congrats on beard. no surprize your fine staff are branching off, although painful for you thats great to see because in the end it's good for the cleveland food scene as a whole. the more BAR CENTO's, etc the better.

question: as we know a lot of food publishing editors i am curious about your book deal, if you can say, who is the publisher-to-be? thx


Hi Michael. I am sitting at work and really have no idea how I found your blog, but just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading it. It was really nice to get an update on everyone and hear about all the progress you have made. As your former employee, I am elated to see how well you are succeeding in everything that you do. You were a wonderful boss! Alana Fleming (now Dunn!)


as a fellow brown-aholic, i was curious to get your take on the tailgating scene. have you ever hosted one / what are your favorite tailgate foods / etc?

thanks for making all c-towners proud!

T Zalba

I too think bobby takes a bad rap for his "over-exposure" on the food network. The blue corn pancake with barbecued duck at Mesa LV is like "you've got to be kidding me, how do these guys do this?" Speaking of how you do things, I would love to see a show on fn about a real restaurant kitchen, with some history and culinary technique thrown in. Maybe you could do segments on site at Lola on a Saturday night so people could see the characters and organized chaos of a top notch kitchen crew. A night in the life, so to speak. I may be a little late to the party here so sorry for posting "off topic". I just found your blog today from reading ruhlman's (not sure what i like better, his prose or donna's photos, therefore I can't wait for your book)


I am right there with T Zalba, I'd love to see any show on FN (besides the 1 or 2 they do have) that deals with cooking. I have also just found your Blog (thanks Ruhlman...how f'n long were you going to keep this blog a secret?!). I have been through Cleveland many times but had never considered even slowing down never mind stopping. Thanks to you Michael and that S.O.B. writer, I will be planning a couple of extra long layovers in your fine culinary city. Congrats on your nominations Michael!


PS- as far as which is better...Ruhlman can flat out write. But I prefer Donna's Food Porn.



As a fellow chef who ages his own beef and bison, I must have a picture of a 100 day aged short line. Can you help me out? I do 30 days, but 100 days is pushing the envelope!


Of course I meant short loin.


Hi there. I came here from the home page for Lola.

I'm sad to say I haven't had the priveledge of eating at either Lola or Lolita. I'm planning a girls night out on May 17th for my best friend who's getting married. We will be staying at the Ritz Carlton. We're all in our 30's and she loves Tremont, but I know Lola is closer to the hotel. Would Lolitas or Lola be more appropriate for girls night out?



i just linked over to your blog from ruhlman's and i'm delighted to read your comments about carnevino. my husband and i ate there in february, shortly after they opened and we basically said/thought the exact same things: service was impeccable, the bone-in rib-eye was the best steak either of us have ever eaten (damn that sucker was flavorful and perfectly cooked!), the pasta was perfect and we both swooned over the spinach with hot peppers. always nice to hear validation of your thoughts from a professional!

i also just finished reading 'soul of a chef' this week while on vacation and if we ever make it out to cleveland, lola is at the top of the list for dinner!


First let me say --You SO deserve a James Beard award! My husband and I are HUGE fans of yours and love both of your restaurants. Your biggest fan, however, is my 6 year old daughter. We had to TiVo Next Iron Chef so that she could watch it because it was past her bedtime. She would jump all around the room and yell and scream for you. And if the judges ever said anything negative, she would be SO angry. Actually, she will not watch Cat Cora now because she thought she was mean to you. (I think she has her first crush -- hope Liz isn't too jealous!)

Anyways, my husband is hosting an Iron Chef competition for our church in Westlake and we were wondering if you had any recommendations on a "secret ingredient" that would work well for the average home chef wanna-be food network junkie but still leave room for creativity. Thanks so much! You are amazing.


julie..how bout sausage...u could get a couple diiferent kinds and their is a million different ways to use it...tell ur daughter thx for the support..live to cook, ms



I just read Ruhlman's Soul of a Chef, so I can really feel the impact that Frank's departure must bring. I felt like I knew you guys and could almost smell the slash and burn.

Oh, and I am so making that roast chicken. Now to find a source for boneless half bird.

Thanks for the inspiration.

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