Whether it’s enjoying Grandma’s sprinkles-dusted sugar cookies and marshmallow-studded hot cocoa by her fireplace, singing along with your favorite carols in the car, or curling up on the couch and watching timeless Christmas movies, holiday rituals are an essential part of the season. For many, the celebration simply wouldn’t be complete without certain traditions. Just in time for the upcoming holidays, FN Dish sat down with Iron Chef Michael Symon during a recent trip to Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa to find out how he celebrates the season. Although much of his work takes him to New York City, he’ll be celebrating in his hometown of Cleveland this year, and when it comes to his seasonal sipper of choice, he’ll reach for rich hot cocoa over eggnog any day. Read on below to hear from Michael and learn more of his holiday must-haves.
Hot cocoa or eggnog: Hot cocoa
Gingerbread or sugar cookies: Gingerbread
The movie Christmas Vacation or Elf: Christmas Vacation
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Check out Michael Symon’s New York City kitchen, then pick up some of his finds for your own kitchen.
It’s probably no surprise that if you ask Bobby Flay to choose between a burger and a hot dog, he’ll probably laugh and expect you to know better. But if given the choice between barbecue chicken and steak — what do you think he’d say?
FN Dish caught up with Bobby, Michael Symon, Guy Fieri, Marc Forgione, Masaharu Morimoto, Aarón Sánchez and Andrew Zimmern to ask them several grilling rapid-fire questions, perfect for the hot summer months.
Click play on the video above to hear what each had to say about charcoal and gas grills, hot dogs versus burgers and barbecue chicken versus steak.
Voice your opinion by voting in these polls
Despite some extremely tough battles, it was Iron Chef Michael Symon who finally emerged victorious from the first-ever Iron Chef America: Tournament of Champions. He defeated Iron Chef Garces in a classic confrontation, claiming the title, as well as the bragging rights over his fellow members of the Kitchen Stadium club.
Before he went out to celebrate, I caught up with him and asked for his thoughts on the tournament and his victory.
Since you won, I’m assuming you think that the Tournament of Champions was a good idea. Would you still have felt the same if you had lost?
MS: I definitely still would have thought it was a great idea to have the Tournament of Champions, even if I hadn’t won it. But I’m not going to lie to you, I would have enjoyed it a whole lot less!
Bobby Flay didn’t take part in the tournament. Do you think that cheapens the title, and how do you think you would get on against Iron Chef Flay if you did battle him?
MS: You only have to look at some of the tough battles between the other Iron Chefs to know that Bobby’s absence did not weaken the tournament at all. Iron Chef Flay and I have known each other for so long and are such good friends that we have promised that we will never compete against each other. I know it’s a cop-out, but if we were forced to battle, I think it would probably result in a tie.
Michael Symon was the first Iron Chef I ever encountered in person. And I am delighted to say that, during the last three years, I have had the opportunity to hear his all-too-famous laugh on many more occasions, both as a co-judge on The Next Iron Chef as well as when I am lucky enough to judge his battles in Kitchen Stadium.
Just before he entered into battle against his fellow Iron Chefs, I took the chance to catch up with one of my favorite Food Network chums and demand answers to the following questions.
You once told me that you feared only “My wife, my mother and God — not necessarily in that order.” But is there any chef that you would hate to come up against in Kitchen Stadium?
MS: Not really. That’s not because I don’t think there are any chefs out there that are better than me, but because I live for competition and the battles in Kitchen Stadium. So win or lose, there is no one I’d be afraid to go up against.
May Madness hits Food Network this spring as Iron Chefs battle it out — one-on-one — in the first-ever Iron Chef America: Tournament of Champions
. With five episodes and a panel of revolving judges, the tournament features high-stakes, bracket-style battles between the best of the best in the culinary world. The tournament begins Sunday, May 5 at 10pm/9c
with a face-off between the two newest Iron Chefs, Alex Guarnaschelli and Geoffrey Zakarian.
Get the full schedule
How many times have you searched for the ultimate recipe only to find one that’s nearly what you’re looking for but features perhaps a single ingredient or flavor that you simply can’t bare? When that happens, do you scrap the recipe altogether, vowing to find one that’s perfect, or do you settle for the undesired taste because the rest of the recipe fits the bill? We caught up with Iron Chef Michael Symon at the 2013 South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and he told us that instead of an all-or-nothing approach to recipes, look at them as detailed suggestions you can use to build the dish that best suits your tastes.
“Let your palate be your guide,” Iron Chef Symon said. He was reminded of a time that his father suffered through a batch of salsa that, while it was made according to its recipe’s instructions, boasted cilantro, an herb his father doesn’t like. Looking back on the moment now, Iron Chef Symon recalled that it would have been perfectly acceptable for his father to swap in other “soft, leafy herbs” for the cilantro so as to keep with his preferences and ultimately allow him to enjoy the dish.
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Last week, FN Dish introduced Rival Recipes, a weekly series that pits Next Iron Chef rivals, judges and standing Iron Chefs against one another in themed battles to find out whose recipe reigns supreme. In our first installment, Iron Chef Marc Forgione went head-to-head with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian in an Italian Dish Showdown. In the end, Chef Zakarian’s pasta with bolognese bested Chef Forgione’s gnocchi with brown butter, but only by a few dozen votes. Didn’t get a chance to vote last week? There’s still time to pick a plate.
This week’s mashup features Iron Chefs Bobby Flay and Michael Symon, and they’re leaving behind Italian classics and focusing on Thanksgiving favorites. With Turkey Day just a few weeks away, everyone wants to know: dressing or stuffing — which side pairs better with the bird? The chefs themselves are divided on the issue. Chef Flay is bringing an earthy, smoky Sourdough, Wild Mushroom and Bacon Dressing to the battle, while Iron Chef Symon opts for Cornbread Stuffing made moist and luxuriously rich thanks to heavy cream.
The vote is in your hands — are you a loyal stuffing lover or do you prefer the simplicity of dressing? When it comes to bread, does crusty sourdough strike your fancy or will you reach for golden, crumbly corn bread? Vote below.
In just 90 seconds, FN Dish uncovered the best bites of 2012 (so far) from Food Network stars and Cooking Channel champs at the recent New York City Wine & Food Festival. Get a taste of their dining and at-home experiences: Click play on the video above for exclusive interviews with Bobby Flay, Jeff Mauro, Alex Guarnaschelli, Michael Symon, Robert Irvine, Alton Brown, Bobby and Jamie Deen, Marc Forgione, Marcel Vigneron, Ted Allen and the Neelys.
What’s the best bite you’ve had in 2012, whether it’s something you’ve made or had out? Tell us in the comments below.
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Michael Symon still feels bad about getting chopped last season on Chopped All-Stars, but not because he’s a sore loser. The Iron Chef was competing for Autism Speaks, and says it still gets to him that he wasn’t able to win $50,000 for this charity that’s near and dear to his heart. “You feel like you’ve let down a greater cause, not just your own well-being,” he says. “It beat me up a little bit.”
Michael got his chance to give back by serving as the host of this year’s Autism Speaks Celebrity Chef Gala, which took place Tuesday in New York. More than 90 chefs from coast-to-coast, including fellow Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Next Iron Chef contender Nate Appleman, descended on Wall Street to cook for this worthy cause.