Michael Symon: burger man

Michael Symon is renowned for his “thoughtful Midwest cooking style.” But around these parts, the Cleveland native is also known as the 2010 Burger Bash winner. The Iron Chef’s pastrami-topped Fat Doug burger, topped with pastrami, Swiss cheese and coleslaw on a brioche, seized the crown last year; it’s now on the menu at his B Spot restaurant in Ohio. So can Symon make it two in a row? We chatted about meat on meat, festival favorites and the secret to a great burger.

What are your plans this year?

No goofing around. Burger Bash Thursday. Then BubbleQ. Then I’m doing the dinner with Michael Schwartz [Saturday’s Wine + Dine + Design]. It was the perfect storm for me this year — I’ve got like 10 really close friends in the business, and two wanted me to do their events. Don’t worry, I’ll figure it out. That’s why they invented coffee.

Any sneak peaks at what you’ll be defending your title with?

We’re staying with the meat-on-meat world. This year it’ll be our Yo! Burger topped with fried salami, hot peppers, some nice, aged provolone and some hot sauce.

What’s the secret to a great burger?

The burger to bun ratio — I don’t think it can be expressed enough how important that perfect amount of meat to bread is. Also, getting the proper amount of meat — you see burgers with 10 percent fat at the grocery store and they’re horrible, they have no happiness in them. We amp our burgers up to 25 percent fat and we do a course grind. It eats more like a steak.

Smoked meats and BBQ seem to be everywhere.

It’s so funny, everybody looks to L.A. and N.Y. for the food trends, but pork, smoked meats and sausages is definitely a trend that has come from the Midwest. We’ve been doing that for decades.

Valerie Nahmad


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