Renowned in the culinary world and adored in his hometown of Cleveland, Michael Symon is the chef and owner of critically acclaimed Lola and Lolita restaurants in Cleveland. Michael’s pedigree started upon graduating from The Culinary Institute of America in New York in 1990. Michael quickly began revitalizing the Cleveland palate, while practicing in some of Cleveland’s up-and-coming restaurants, such as Player’s, Picolo Mondo, Giovanni’s and The Caxton Café. In these venues, he found success as well as a loyal following and fan base.
In 1997, Michael opened his own restaurant, Lola, collaborating with his future wife, Liz. Lola opened just west of downtown Cleveland in the community of Historic Tremont, receiving glowing reviews. To complement Michael’s menu, Liz brought an unpretentious elegance to both the design of the restaurant and unique wine selection from lesser-known boutique vineyards that made Lola Cleveland’s destination of the year. In 2005, Michael, Liz and Doug Petkovic gave birth to a new concept of Lola so they could open Lolita. They once again revitalized a new section of Cleveland with the re-opening of Lola in the heart of downtown Cleveland on E. 4th St. in 2006, becoming once again, the cornerstone and darling of the Cleveland dining scene.
Michael has earned much attention through the years for his thoughtful cooking style and his attention to detail. He was named National Rising Star by Restaurant Hospitality magazine (May 1997 issue), one of the top Ten Best New Chefs by Food and Wine magazine (July 1998 issue), America’s Best Restaurants in Gourmet magazine (Oct. 2000 issue), featured in Michael Ruhlman’s book The Soul of a Chef (2000) and nominated for best chef-great lakes region by the James Beard Foundation (2006). He has also made appearances on WKYC-TV (Cleveland) on Mondays with Michael and iVillage Live on NBC. Previously on Food Network, Michael has hosted more than 100 episodes of The Melting Pot, in addition to appearing on episodes of Sara’s Secrets with Sara Moulton, Ready, Set, Cook and Food Nation with Bobby Flay. In 2007, Michael competed on the reality competition series The Next Iron Chef and won, securing his place as a permanent Iron Chef on Food Network’s hit series Iron Chef America.