Monday, November 12, 2007

Clevelander wins Food Network title

I have met Mike a few times and he is a nice guy. I have been to Lolita's and Lola's and the food is always great. Cleveland has an unusual number of talented chef's and great restaurants and Mike's success only serves to raise Cleveland's food profile.

CLEVELAND -- Two of Northeast Ohio's most popular restaurants -- Lola and Lolita -- just got a lot more popular last night when their owner won the Food Network's ''The Next Iron Chef'' of America.

The top-rated food contest selected Northeast Ohio's celebrity chef Michael Symon of Cleveland as Americas' ''Nest Iron Chef.'' Symon has been competing in the past few months against top chefs where they create theme dishes under contest conditions. Yesterday, Symon beat out John Besh of New Orleans to win the title.

Renowned in the culinary world and adored in his hometown, Symon is the chef and owner at the critically acclaimed Lola and Lolita restaurants in Cleveland. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Michael's pedigree includes being included as one of the Ten Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine (1998), a memorable performance as an Iron Chef contestant (2005), and hosting Food Network's popular Melting Pot series.

Former host of Food Network's Melting Pot series, Symon has also appeared on ''Sara's Secrets with Sara Moulton, Ready, Set, Cook'' and FoodNation with Bobby Flay. Symon has been seen as a frequent guest on ''Village Live'' on NBC, and on ''Monday's with Michael'' on the WKYC Cleveland. Symon has been featured in national magazines such as Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Saveur, Food Arts, Esquire and O, The Oprah Magazine. Symon has also worked with Vita-Mix as a spokesperson and is a brand ambassador for Calphalon.

Michael has garnered a host of awards, including Restaurant Hospitality magazine's national 'rising star' (1997), Northern Ohio Live magazine's Best Restaurant and Chef in Northeast Ohio (1998) and one of Food & Wine magazine's Ten Best New Chefs in America (1998). Cleveland Magazine selected Lola as its Best New Restaurant in 2007, also naming Michael as Best Local Chef for Lola and Lolita.

He was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Great Lakes (2006). Michael likes to unwind from his frenetic schedule with a zip on either of his dual vintage Harleys along the back streets of Cleveland.

Lola is in downtown Cleveland's East Fourth Street entertainment district and Lolita is in Tremont.

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