Chef/Owner of Lola, Lolita, Roast, Bar Symon and B Spot
Chef Michael Symon cooks with soul. Growing up in a Greek and Sicilian family, the Cleveland native creates boldly flavored, deeply satisfying dishes at his restaurants in America’s heartland: Lola, Lolita, Roast, Bar Symon and B Spot. He also shares his exuberant, approachable cooking style and infectious laugh with viewers as an Iron Chef on the Food Network and as a co-host on ABC’s The Chew.
Since being named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine in 1998, Michael and his restaurants have been awarded numerous honors: in 2000 Gourmet magazine chose Lola as one of “America’s Best Restaurants;” in 2010, Michael was the first chef ever to host the annual Farm Aid benefit concert; Bon Appetit magazine included B Spot on their list of “Top 10 Best New Burger Joints;” B Spot’s Fat Doug burger won the People’s Choice award at the SoBe Wine & Food Festival. In 2009, Michael earned The James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Great Lakes and the Detroit Free Press named Roast “Restaurant of the Year.”
Michael made his debut on Food Network in 1998 with appearances on Sara’s Secrets with Sara Moulton, Ready, Set, Cook and Food Nation with Bobby Flay, before being tapped to host over 100 episodes of The Melting Pot. He then went on to win season one of The Next Iron Chef in 2008, earning him a permanent spot on the roster of esteemed Iron Chefs. Throughout 2010, Michael appeared on four Food Network/Cooking Channel shows, hosting Food Feuds and Cook Like an Iron Chef, judging season three of The Next Iron Chef and competing on Iron Chef America. In January 2012, Michael’s show Symon’s Suppers, premiered on Cooking Channel and in September 2011, he joined the cast of The Chew on ABC as one of the show’s five hosts.
While Michael shines on television, he is a genuine hometown guy who made his name cooking in his Midwestern restaurants, all of which became critically acclaimed. Lola opened in 1997 and is now the cornerstone of Cleveland’s dining scene. Lolita, a Mediterranean-style bistro in the historic Tremont neighborhood, opened in 2005. Roast brought Michael’s meat-centric cooking to Detroit’s Westin Book Cadillac in 2008, and after opening the first two Cleveland locations of B Spot in 2009, Michael has expanded with multiple locations throughout Ohio, showcasing his passion for burgers, bratwurst and beer.
Michael published his first cookbook, “Michael Symon’s Live to Cook – Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen,” in 2009, sharing home cook-friendly recipes that draw on the flavors of his heritage. Michael’s second cookbook, “Carnivore,” dedicated to meat lovers, was published in October 2012 and his third cookbook, “5 in 5,” inspired by a popular speed-cooking segment on The Chew, was published in September 2013.
When he’s not working, Michael is riding his motorcycle through Cleveland, cooking at home, playing golf, thinking about his next tattoo, gardening in the backyard and spending time with his wife, Liz, and their bullmastiff, Ruby, and Old English bulldog, Ozzy.
Jim Victor & Marie Pelton
Jim Victor is a sculptor with more than 30 years of experience as an artist and teacher. Food sculptures carved from cheese, butter, chocolate and vegetables are among the many commissions that he and his wife, Marie Pelton, have created.
Jim first learned sculpture through clay figure modeling at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where he won the Cresson European Traveling Scholarship in 1967. After the Academy, he worked one year in the reproductions department (casting and mold making) at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, while also beginning a series of portrait sculptures of politicians and celebrities. Those works appeared in the New York Times, Philadelphia Magazine, Der Spiegel and others, and have been showcased in prestigious collections such as the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.
In the early 1980s, Jim created his first food sculptures – chocolate portrait busts of Mickey Rooney and Anne Miller for a celebration honoring the 1,000th performance of the Broadway show “Sugar Babies.” He debuted his first butter sculpture at the 1995 Pennsylvania Farm Show, creating a commemoration of the sacrifice of Pennsylvania soldiers who fought at the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
Combining his technical knowledge of food with his love of art, he launched Jim Victor Food Sculpture. Shortly thereafter, cheese was added to the sculptural menu with venues at BorderFest in Texas and “The Power of Cheese Car” at a NASCAR event in Richmond, Virginia.
Marie is an accomplished sculptor and graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She has worked with Jim since 2000 and the pair married in 2003.
Jim and Marie continue to be in high demand. Their recent commissioned works include a 12-foot chocolate replica of the Statue of Liberty for a grand opening celebration at the Hershey’s Store within the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas; an M&M mosaic of pro football legend Joe Montana for a 2014 Super Bowl event; a caramel rendition of Mt. Rushmore for Werther’s Original in Chicago; and a vegetable bust of 2014 NFL draft pick Anthony Barr for SUBWAY.