Pro Chefs Dish on Kitchens: Michael Symon Shares His Tastes
Michael Symon, restaurant proprietor, Iron Chef winner and star of The Chewand Symon’s Suppers allows you to feel as though you know him the moment you watch him on TV. Whether he is bantering with his friends or cooking with confidence and passion, he is never stuffy or intimidating. You truly feel as though he would be a great teacher, because he wants you to enjoy cooking as far as he does.
Like cars, luxury appliances are all about power, looks and performance, but a fantastic cook can cook anything. I wanted to understand what appliances a chef like Symon desires in his own kitchen — and what he does not. So I asked him.
Chef: Michael Symon
Restaurants: Lola, Lolita, Roast, Bar Symon, Bspot
TV shows: Iron Chef, The Chew, Symon’s Suppers
Books: Carnivore, Live Resist
Specialty: American cuisine
Q. What is your perfect kitchen layout?
A. Definitely a open kitchen, including an island with plenty of seating. I like a island for a few reasons: Ordinarily when we have the room, I’d really like to have the stovetop in the island so everybody can sit around while I am cooking and I can be a part of this conversation. The island is the center of the house. We have breakfast there; we lay out food for parties there. Ideally I’d really like to have an island that is big enough to hold the stovetop and serving and chairs, but that is not necessarily an alternative.
Q. And also your perfect cooking appliance arrangement?
A. Range top with four burners and a French high and separate double ovens. 1 reason for the double ovens is that I like the elevation. If I am cooking something I have to keep an eye on, then I put it in the upper oven, while the lower oven is fantastic to get a longer braise or roast.
Even to get an expert chef, there is still “out of sight out of mind,” and things like pine nuts I will put in the oven with the light on and forget about these.
I believed I needed a griddle, but I ended up never using it and maintaining the stainless cover plate onto it and used it more as a landing spot. I really like the changeable and consistent heat on a French top.
As for indoor gas grills, they’re not really my thing. I am one that likes to grill fire.
Wm. F. Holland/Architect
Q. What do you think about open leftovers versus closed burners to get a range top? Electric versus gas oven?
A. Open gas burners over electrical for certain. I really like to see the heat rather than a dial telling me how sexy it is. Electric ovens petrol — a more even heat that’s great for roasting and baking.
Q. What one additional kitchen cooking gadget could you propose for a house cook?
A. I don’t have one, however, a steam oven could be good for home cooks — consistent heat, quicker cook times and more consistent results, and they’re excellent for roasting a chicken.
Q. Would you do an induction cooktop as a replacement to gas — or as a supplement?
A. Not a fan. Give me gas constantly — a lot less difficult to regulate, in my opinion.
Q. What dishes would you cook to test-drive a new appliance?
A. When somebody is looking out to get a job at one of our restaurants, which is called “a stage,” I have them prepare an omelet, scrambled eggs and sunny-side-up eggs onto the burners, and a chicken in the oven. These dishes not just show the way the appliance performs but will be the very best ways to determine how skilled a cook is.
Rebekah Zaveloff | KitchenLab
Q. What kind of refrigeration arrangement would you want?
A. Drawers within my island and a huge fridge in the pantry to get big stuff, but for my kitchen we don’t have the room for that, so a bottom-freezer-style refrigerator will probably work just fine.
Q. What is your perfect cleanup arrangement? Sinks first.
A. Large single-bowl sink — great for pots and pans. We do a good deal of entertaining and a lot of stuff in big roasting pans etc.. A double bowl is never big enough to wash that kind of thing. Love veg sinks in the island close cutting board surfaces. A pot filler or sink near the cooking surface is actually important. Not a fan of the main sink in the island. I like the cooktop in the island, and when I can not have that, then I’d want a prep sink. Once the celebration starts, [my spouse] Lizzie loves to put ice and wine or champagne in the island sink.
Q. What about faucets? Few individuals actually consider how they can make life easier depending on the plan, but as far as I like function, I can not stand an unattractive faucet.
A. I prefer two-handle and side-spray Alternatives. I really like commercial-style faucets — simple to use and plenty of range. I like having foot controls for the prep sink; they help keep things tidy.
Rebekah Zaveloff | KitchenLab
Q. What is your favorite backsplash substance?
A. I am a fan of classic subway tile — simple cleanup and timeless.
Q. Your Favourite countertop material by the range? For an island? For prepping? For baking?
A. I like marble everywhere. It’s simple to wash, holds up to cold and heat — lasting. I understand people fret about marble, but if you go to Europe, you visit marble anyplace that is a bazillion years old, and it looks great. There’s something about how it patinas; the longer it gets beat up, the better it looks, and not every substance ages that way. Same with older pewter bars. They’re stunning with rings and symbols all over them.
David Armour Architecture
Q. What is your favorite material for a kitchen floor?
A. Tile, but with good cushy floor mats in front of the cooker. These legs are tired and old!
Q. Your opinion on perfect lighting for a house kitchen?
A. Recessed on dimmers. I like a whole lot of glowing light while cooking. But Lizzie likes to dim it down when I’m done.
Q. What ingredient could you not live without?
A. Salt. Impossible to cook with no. But I’d also be really sad without citrus and vinegars!
Inform us in the Comments: What kitchen feature do you rely on most?