1998 America's Best New Chefs | Michael Symon

Michael Symon
Lola, Cleveland

Age: 28

Background: Trained at the Culinary Institute of America. Worked at Piccolo Mondo and Caxton Café, Cleveland.

How he got into cooking: "After I blew out my arm wrestling in high school, I knew I couldn't get a college sports scholarship, so I started working at restaurants for money."

First food memory: "Making baklava with Mom when I was six."

Menu bomb: Pot pie with a filling of shrimp and escargot.

Favorite place to eat: Aureole, New York City.

Best thing about cooking in Cleveland: "Customers are open-minded. And it's my hometown."

Food vice: The Romanburger at Cleveland's Mr. Hero. "It's a hot sub with a hamburger patty, piled high with salami and cheese--I call it a heart-attack sandwich."

Recipe tip: If you don't have time to make pierogi dough, use store-bought spring-roll wrappers instead.

Info: 900 Literary Rd.; 216-771-5652.

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