Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Iron Chef Michael Symon:a man for all seasonings

A celebrity chef that's getting quite a bit of face time on TV lately is one of the newest Iron Chef America champions on the block,Michael Symon.

In addition to his regular appearances in Kitchen Stadium,Symon has two new food related programs on air;one for the newly launched Cooking Channel called Cook Like An Iron Chef and a Food Network series debuting this week,Food Feuds,that has him settling longtime recipe rivalries between local eateries.

With all of that heaped on his plate,you'd think there wouldn't be room for anything more. However,Symon is doing quadrupedal duty as one of the new judges on the third season of The Next Iron Chef.

He and British food critic Simon Majumdar join NIC mainstay Donatella Apia on the panel and as much as I dug Jeffrey Steingarten's input on the panel last season,this seems to be a change for the better.

While Symon and Apia have some disagreements on the food placed before them,their spats don't appear to be as stingingly sharp as Steingarten's was with her. Also,having a former winner of this competition as a judge is a smart move since that person not only knows what the contestants are going through but also is quick to catch on to any easy outs and basic mistakes made by any of the competing chefs here:

So,what is it about Symon that makes him the go-to guy for food shows lately? A good part of this is his strong likability factor. Symon's easy going nature and sense of humor about himself gave him a lot of fans from that first season of The Next Iron Chef(myself included)and that hasn't wavered in any venue he's been in so far.

Symon has a Michael Chiklis type of persona-more Ben Grimm from the Fantastic Four movies than The Shield-a tough yet tender guy with down to earth tastes. He can cook four star cuisine with finesse and flair but it's not hard to imagine him having a nice juicy cheeseburger at a funky little diner or roadside stand in Anywhere,USA.

Like many successful people,Symon truly enjoys his work and is more than happy to spread the joy,along with the barbecue sauce,onto others:

Another check in the plus column for Symon is his confidence,which never comes across as arrogance. His professionalism and poise can be severely tested during his Iron Chef battles but even up against a personality as big as his own(such as Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman),Symon holds his own and brings his fun side out to play a little as well:

That saying about a little goes a long way does apply to some persistent personalities that pop up in numerous pop culture spots but in this instance,Chef Symon hasn't come anywhere near to wearing out his welcome just yet. It is time for another big league chef to make his mark,after all,and Symon has plenty of chops and prior screen time to merit his expanded fifteen minutes of foodie fame.

So,for the new batch of Iron Chef hopefuls battling for the win this season,I hope all of you are taking notes when Symon speaks. As for future NIC contenders,this is the guy whom you all want to be standing beside someday and whose culinary career both on and off screen is pretty sweet as well as savory. Michael Symon is a fine cut of character and charisma,served up with style:

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