April of last year we went to Sonoma and San Francisco for the week. Like every trip I take, I spend a fair amount of time researching where to eat. For this trip, I e-mailed Michael Symon to inquire about his favorite places since I remembered reading he just returned from the Bay area. He quickly responded with not only his suggestions, but his friend’s as well, fellow chef Chris Cosentino of Incanto. We actually ended up at Incanto one night, and to our surprise (more like complete shock), the sever brought out foie gras and bacon on toast with strawberry-rhubarb jam topped with trotter for us to start our meal. As she set the dish down she said, ‘Michael Symon welcomes you to San Francisco.’ I still can’t believe it – Michael Symon not only took the time to share restaurant suggestions with me and call around for more, but extended this incredibly kind and thoughtful gesture. When I first started this blog I sent out an e-mail to a bunch of chefs looking to do Q&A’s -something I thought would be fun to explore and was curious to see who would respond. Michael Symon was the first (he responded with answers in 15 minutes). And he barely knew me. And when my sister was securing items to be raffled to help raise money for one of her coworker’s son’s who had cancer, Symon again was the first to respond to my e-mail and generously donated. These are just a few examples of the encounters I’ve had with him. You all know that Symon is a great chef. I’d also like you to know that he’s even a better person.
Whenever we bump into him or his wife, Liz, they treat us as if we’ve known them forever. They are genuine, funny and the perfect representation for our city. I’m thankful that authoring this blog has given me the opportunity to get know so many wonderful people, including the Symons.
As most of us know by now, chef Symon’s first cookbook, Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock your Kitchen, comes out November 3. Courtesy of the publisher, I’ve been given two copies of the book, one for me and one to giveaway.
As soon as I opened the package, I started perusing the book and all its beautiful photography. I still haven’t put it down. It’s filled with dishes from Lola and Lolita as well as meals he makes with his family. And there are stories – lots of stories with history. And information, really good information that’s geared to make us all better in the kitchen. My husband and I plan to cook our way through every page of this book and hopefully become better homecooks because of it.
Symon’s cookbook is a true Cleveland representation with contributions from Heidi Robb and Michael and Donna Ruhlman. You can’t not be excited for Michael. We have all cheered him on, on both the local and national stage, and supported him since Lola first opened in 1997. He’s one of us.
If you’d like the other copy, just tell me your favorite part of the pig to cook with and why. I’ll pick a winner on Thursday. Happy reading and eating.