Grilling Iron Chef, Chew Star Michael Symon

Leslie Kelly
Celebrity chef Michael Symon

Affable celebrity chef Michael Symon is the special guest at this year's St. Martin's University Gala on Saturday, an annual event that raises scholarship funds for students with a live cooking demo and both live and silent auctions. This will be the eighth year of the gala, and the third with a celebrity chef as the focus, with St. Martin's alum Armandino Batali acting as the driving force behind that initiative. Last year's record-breaking event featured Food Network superstar Guy Fieri. 

 Seattle Magazine recently interviewed Symon via email: 

Seattle Magazine: Thanks for coming out for the St. Martin’s benefit! How often do you do charity events? How’d this mission get accomplished?

Michael Symon: I do between five and 10 charity events a year and this one was simple. Mario Batali asked me if it was possible. I told him absolutely. Plus, I love his dad.


SM: You’ve got a gift for connecting with people. How do you make everyone happy when you’re at a big event?

MS: The good news is most people are there to support a great cause, which always puts even the crankiest people in a good mood. LOL. I just feel you want to make sure the event has a good amount of energy and let everyone know how grateful you are that they are there and being supportive.


SM: How much cooking will you be doing? Or is it more about the menu planning and supervising?

MS: I will be demonstrating most of the dishes served during dinner.  This event required a lot of menu planning and supervising, the fortunate thing is my whole culinary team will be there to assist me during the event.


SM: What was your very first kitchen job?

MS: I was a prep cook and then moved to rib cook at Geppetto's, a pizza/rib restaurant, when I was 14 years old.


SM: When was the last time you worked the line at one of your restaurants?

MS: Two weeks ago at Roast in Detroit. I hop on the line as much as I can.


SM: What’s your favorite low-brow place to eat in NYC?

MS: I think low-brow has become the new high-brow, so it is getting hard to tell the difference, but I am currently loving Ippudo and Mission Chinese in NYC.


SM: Did Mario Batali give you advice about where to eat in Seattle?



SM: What’s next up for you? A new book? Restaurant? Another TV show?

Not sure, I take it one day at a time, but I am pretty sure one of all of those things will happen within the year.

Tickets for the gala are $400 apiece, though most guests buy tables, and only a limited number of individual tickets are available. To purchase, call 360.486.8885.