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.
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.
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.
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.
In honor of the newest season of The Great Food Truck Race, we asked Food Network stars, as well as some familiar faces from Cooking Channel and Travel Channel to share with us their vision for the ultimate food truck while FN Dish was at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.
Click the play button on the video below to hear what Marc Forgione, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, Michael Symon and Aarón Sanchez had to say.
Talk to us: What kind of food truck would you open?
The Great Googa Mooga. Googa what? That was my exact reaction when I heard the name for the first ever “amusement park of food and drink” that is taking place this weekend at Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Roots, Fitz & the Tantrums and Hall and Oates. These names are enough to draw in thousands of people to the newest food and music festival added to the roster of so many, but a first for New York City.
However, the true stars this weekend and what I believe was the biggest draw were the 75 food vendors, 35 brewers and 30 winemakers that dished out food ranging from barbecue to burgers, pizza and seafood and pastrami and ice cream. If you were craving it, you could buy it. While you might have to wait in multiple 30 minute lines, it was worth it — the food produced at this festival set a new standard for all festival food.
We spoke with organizer Jonathan Mayers, who launched Bonaroo and he said, “It’s time for food to get top billing.” He did just that. Included in those 75 food vendors were restaurants Spotted Pig, Roberta’s Pizza, Momofuku Milk Bar and Hill Country Barbecue. Special guests, demonstrators and chefs also included were Food Network’s own Michael Symon, Pat LaFrieda, Marcus Samuelsson, Anthony Bourdain, David Chang, Ruth Reichl and even Parks and Recreation’s Aziz Ansari. (For more with Michael Symon, click the play button above.)
Iron Chef Michael Symon — the unofficial mayor of Cleveland — tells Food Network Magazine what to eat in his hometown.
Roasted Pig Head from The Greenhouse Tavern
Michael is known for his love of unusual cuts of meat, so it’s no surprise that he digs into half a pig’s head at least once a week. “It’s a lot of pig face,” he admits. The pig is seasoned with a spicy Southeast Asian style barbecue sauce and served with lettuce cups. Michael often stops at this spot after work: It’s next to his restaurant Lola, and the chef, Jonathon Sawyer, is an old friend. $31; 2038 East 4th St.; thegreenhousetavern.com