Great Lakes Geek Show - Michael Symon
Podcast by Dan Hanson, the Great Lakes Geek

Iron Chef Michael Symon
Michael Symon
Iron Chef
Food Network

Chef Michael Symon has been exposed to a national and international audience with his win in Food Network's Iron Chef competition. He recently won the 2009 James Beard Foundation Award in the Best Chef Great Lakes Region category adding to his fame and his new book Michael Symon's Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen should make him more famous.

But Michael Symon was known and beloved in Cleveland long before this national acclaim. Some say he saved, or at least revitalized, the Cleveland restaurant scene.

Though a world-famous Iron Chef, Symon remains a regular guy, true to his mother's Greek roots and his North Olmsted rearing. After St. Edwards High School. Symon graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York before returning to Cleveland where he worked at some cool Cleveland restaurants, building his chops.

Symon's Lola and Lolita restaurants are Cleveland treasures and he has been busy expanding his empire to Detroit with Michael Symon's Roast and Bar Symon in Avon Lake.

We may not immediately think of a business person when we think of a chef, but owning and running a restaurant is a difficult business proposition. We have all heard the statistics on how many restaurants fail.

Restaurants have the same issues as other businesses - Cash Flow, Customer Service, payroll, Inventory management and so on. So it is Symon's successful business experience and advice that we are concerned with in these two videos, more than his Smoked Berkshire Pork Chop or Taku River Salmon recipes.

The videos are from a COSE Small Business Conference held at the IX Center last fall that Symon keynoted. In the first video, Symon answers a question from the audience about the key to his success. "No one will outwork me," said the Iron Chef. Good things happen when you work hard, are passionate and are good to people.

In the second video, Michael Symon offers the small business people in the crowd advice how to compete against the big chains. You have to build your business around yourself and your personality to compete.

Be yourself. "Build your business around yourself", Symon told the crowd, "unless you're an ***hole. Then build it around someone else." The audience cracked up.

Look for more business advice from the Iron Chef soon. Right now, I'm too hungry to go on.

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Dan Hanson, the Great Lakes Geek

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