Yesterday morning I was lucky enough to be among a handful of journalists who were invited to Williams-Sonoma to enjoy a breakfast made by Michael Symon. The restaurateur and Iron Chef was in town to promote his recently released cookbook, Michael Symon's Live to Cook. The book took Symon, and co-writer Michael Ruhlman, three and a half years to write.
While cooking up bacon, scrambled eggs with goat cheese, and his dad's recipe for potato pancakes, the friendly, outgoing, and opinionated chef got to talking. To hear what he has to say about chefs who don't cook on their downtime and find out what compromises he had to make with his publishing company, please keep reading.
On working with Michael Ruhlman: I told the stories and he rewrote them. He said to me, "Everything you write has four exclamation points after it," and I said, "I can't help it — I'm excited!!!!"
On food trends: The whole food trend thing really aggravates me. Pork is not something that goes in and out. It's not a trend. I'll always eat pork. Let's make good food. Good food shouldn't be trendy. It should be a way of life.
On using the recipes in his cookbook: A recipe is a wonderful guide, but at the end of the day, just let your own palate guide you. I like dishes that are salty, acidic, and spicy with a lot of fat layered in, so I cook that kind of food. Change my recipes to suit your needs.
On publishing his first cookbook: It was so much harder than I thought it would be. First we had to pick out the recipes, than scale them down to small amounts, then figure out how to make the dishes in a home kitchen rather than the kitchens we use in the restaurants. Then, there's the writing and going back and forth with the publisher. They didn't want recipes with things like pig's head and I didn't want a cookbook with my picture on the cover. In the end we compromised. My picture is on the cover and the pig's head ragu is inside.
On cooking at home: Chefs that don't cook at home shouldn't be chefs. I cook every holiday and at least once a week. It's truly mind-numbing that there could be chefs that don't cook on their day off.