Wednesday, December 02, 2009

An Iron Chef Breakfast

It’s not every day that you have an Iron Chef making you breakfast. But yesterday I was invited to a special cooking demo at the Williams-Sonoma store in Union Square featuring Michael Symon of “Iron Chef America.”

I’m not sure what I was expecting. Maybe I was waiting for the smoke machines to start up, or I half expected Alton Brown to pop out from one corner. But it wasn’t anything like that. It was more like gathering at Symon’s home on a Sunday for brunch. (Of course, the first thing that hit me was the smell of bacon frying up in the pan.)

Symon, chef and owner of the popular Lola restaurant in his hometown of Cleveland, was in town promoting his first cookbook, “Michael Symon’s Live to Cook.” (Co-written by food writer Michael Ruhlman with a forward from fellow Iron Chef Bobby Flay.) The cookbook is a mix of stories and recipes from Symon’s life, from childhood to his rise as one of the nation’s most recognizable chef (his distinctive laugh probably gives him away wherever he goes, too).

Watching Symon cook for over an hour, I got a real look into the man that you never really see on TV. Symon talked about his love of cooking, his marriage to his wife (who’s a sommelier), PORK, the three-year writing process for his first cookbook, his growing restaurant empire, and what he made for Thanksgiving dinner (turkeys three ways).

Symon’s cooking, at least for breakfast, is nothing like what he plates up on “Iron Chef America.” Instead, his food is simple comfort food, using ingredients that reflect the ethnic neighborhoods he grew up around in Cleveland.

Like breakfast. There wasn’t anything special in the eggs he made with goat cheese or the potato pancakes (his father’s recipe) that looked a lot like latkes. Here’s my plate that was served up. Pretty straightforward, right?

But this plate probably best represents Symon, who at his core is a down-home guy who grew up and still lives in Middle America.

His cookbook keeps things simple while introducing you to the food of his America, which includes ingredients like sweetbreads and his grandmother’s pig’s-head ragu. The recipes (often Italian) might sound familiar, but Symon gives you some insider tricks and bits of his personal experience to take them to another level.

Special thanks to Chef Symon for breakfast, and to Williams-Sonoma for the complimentary copy of Symon’s cookbook.

Other cooking demos:
Ming Tsai
Eric Tucker
Macy's Big Day Out


minispud said...

Wow, that looks like it was awesome. I was waiting for this post all day. What is that in the 2nd to last picture?

Single Guy Ben said...

Hi Minispud, that photo is of Symon's spicy dates recipe. He served it as a starter as people were arriving. He later mentioned that it's the one recipe in the book that everyone should try because it's super simple. It was the first time I ate dates with nuts that had chili in them, which made them spicy and different.

Hungry Dog said...

How do you get these invitations? Lucky! Sounds so fun. I like Michael Symon, maybe I'll check out his cookbook.

Carolyn Jung said...

Sorry to have missed the breakfast, especially after seeing those potato pancakes. He's so much fun. I judged a cookie contest with him, and I've never seen someone so methodical in arranging his plate of cookies. It was truly something to behold. ;)

Mrs. L said...

Michael Symon? So jealous!

Jenster said...

Michael Symon is so hot! Sorry, had to make a sexist comment here. ;-)

Jeff said...

Jealous! Huge fan of Symon especially after reading about him in Ruhlman's book that is currently escaping me. Plus the man loves pork and cooks offal so man crush is in full effect.