Who is Michael Symon on 'Worst Cooks in America'? Award-winning Cleveland chef joins Anne Burrell on Bootcamp
The Cleveland native and James Beard Award winner thinks about mentoring home chefs as the greatest thing about being a chef
Chef Clara Hall left audiences in a state of awe on 'Worst Cooks in America' Bootcamp in the previous season. Her expressions when something went wrong in the kitchen, which practically happened quite often, turned her into a favorite with the audiences who were also of the opinion that they'd like to see her on every season going forward.
Unfortunately, she couldn't make a comeback and in light of the saying 'the show must go on', longtime bootcamp mentor and chef Anne Burrell was joined by chef Michael Symon who made an appearance in the debut episode of 'Worst Cooks in America: The Best of the Worse' that aired last week. Here are some interesting facts about the show's new mentor who thinks mentoring home chefs is the greatest thing about being a chef.
Who is chef Michael Symon?
Symon's love for food stemmed from his childhood. He grew up in a Mediterranean and Eastern European family and his Greek-Sicilian mother also greatly influenced his love for food and for cooking. "As you were eating [breakfast], she was talking about what we were going to have for lunch. We were the house where everybody on the street ate," he said in an interview once.
To honor his heritage, Cleveland native Symon creates boldly flavored and deeply satisfying dishes that also reflect his love for the city he was raised in. He owns a couple of restaurants including the now-defunct Lola, Mabel’s BBQ in Ohio and Las Vegas, Roast Steakhouse in Michigan, Bar Symon and B Spot Burgers in Ohio, and Angeline in New Jersey; all of which are examples of how he was raised and how food shaped him as a person.
Awards and accolades
Symon was named Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine in 1998. His restaurants also have been honored with numerous awards. Lola was named as one of 'America's Best Restaurants' in 2000 by Gourmet magazine. Similarly, it was named Cleveland's Best Restaurant on 18 occasions till the time it was open for business.
B Spot was on the list of 'Top 10 Best Burger Joints' by Bon Appetit and Food & Wine magazine and it also won the People's Choice Award at SoBe Wine & Food Festival on five occasions. Detroit Free Press named Roast as 'Restaurant of the Year' in 2009, the same year as Symon winning the James Beard Foundation Award in Best Chef: Great Lakes category.
Chef Michael Symon is a philanthropist
Symon founded the Michael D. Foundation Inc. in 2010 with his wife Liz for educational and charitable purposes. The primary focus of the foundation has been to assist Cleveland's culinary world and many charitable needs supported by the restaurant and hospitality industry. The foundation has helped bring relief to vendors at the West Side Market during the cessation of business at Cleveland's iconic market due to the fire in January 2013.
It also assisted with the creation and continued success of the Cleveland Chef’s Gala for Autism Speaks; supported the works of City Harvest, No Kid Hungry, and Urban Community Schools. The foundation also teamed up with Cleveland area food banks during the ongoing pandemic.
"When restaurants closed down [because of COVID], it gave us the ability to keep some of my staff working to make food for a lot of the restaurant employees who were out of work and for the food banks in Cleveland. Food banks had food, but they didn’t have [enough] people to cook the food. So it enabled us to help a lot in that manner. And through the course of the pandemic, we’ve probably been able to raise and donate close to a quarter-million dollars," Symon said.
TV Appearances besides 'Worst Cooks in America'
In 2010, Michael appeared on four Food Network/Cooking Channel shows, hosting 'Food Feuds' and 'Cook Like an Iron Chef', judging season three of 'The Next Iron Chef', and competing on 'Iron Chef America'. Michael won season 1 of 'The Next Iron Chef' in 2008, earning him a permanent spot on the panel of esteemed Iron Chefs. He made his debut on the network in 1998 with appearances on 'Sara’s Secrets with Sara Moulton', 'Ready, Set, Cook' and 'Food Nation with Bobby Flay', before being tapped to host more than 100 episodes of 'The Melting Pot'.
He also hosted the Emmy-winning show 'The Chew' alongside other chefs including Carla Hall. Other Food Network shows under his belt include 'Symon's Suppers', 'Symon's Dinners Cooking Out', 'Burgers, Brew & 'Que', 'The Best Thing I Ever Ate', 'Iron Chef Gauntlet', 'BBQ Brawl: Flay V. Symon', and 'The Big Waste'.