Iron Chef Michael Symon talks food, football and parties


Chef Michael Symon passes around some tasty food on ABC's "The Chew." (Associated Press)

A Super Bowl party is typically filled with food, friends and beer. Iron Chef and co-host of "The Chew," Michael Symon is a big fan of all of the above. A Cleveland native and a huge Browns fan, we had a chance to chat with Chef Symon on what Super Bowl parties are like for him. See some of his favorite recipes for the big game here.

What is it about the food and football connection that makes it so strong?

I think that the reason that they connect so well is people watch football, and get together for food, usually in a very celebratory manner. The way that I grew up is, we always sat down and had dinner around the table or, when my mom or dad would have family or friends over, it was a much bigger set up with food and the whole experience.

Football is the same way. During the regular season, maybe it's just you and a couple of your buddies watching the game. And then the season goes a little further, the crowd gets a little bigger. Then the playoffs it gets bigger, then with the Super Bowl, you end up having about 50 people at your house.

I think food and football end up bringing that really kind of celebratory nature to them.

What's a Super Bowl party like at your place?

It's substantial (laughs). We don't mess around really. The past couple years I've hosted some and I actually went to Mario Batali's for a couple, too. We've had a lot of fun doing them. Like last year, what Mario did at his house was he waited to find out who the two Super Bowl teams were, and every quarter he did a different dish from Seattle or Boston. And then, everybody guessed the winner, and whoever there were more votes for, he did that as the final dish. That's a really fun way to do it.

This year, at my house, I'm gonna kill it with comfort food. I'm doing a big cabbage, kielbasa, smoked ribs and ham stew. I'm gonna do tons and tons of fried chicken because I think fried chicken is every bit as good cold as it is hot. And then a lot of kind of noshy, grab-it things like some different fried chips and different dips. Things like that. I'm a drinker of beer and bourbon so we'll probably do a set mixed cocktail with bourbon that everybody can kind of dip into. And then I usually do anywhere from 10 to 12 different kinds of beers. And we'll feature beers from Carolina and beers from Denver.

Anything not allowed at your Super Bowl party? Like if I showed up wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey, what would happen?

If someone showed up in a Steelers jersey at my house I'd bury them in the snow in the back (laughs). They would not have a fighting chance. It would get ugly quick.

It's a weird thing. If the Steerlers make the Super Bowl, I still have to watch because it's the Super Bowl. But man, it gets a little bit more painful. I respect the hell out of that organization, but boy it's hard sometimes. And my whole family is from Pittsburgh, so there's that, too. Both my mom and dad were born in Pittsburgh. So all my uncles and cousins live in Pittsburgh. So I've been tortured for a long time.

Where does your passion for football come from?

We were a huge football house growing up. If there was one sport in my house that everybody got into it was football. I played football as a kid, but my uncle played for the Broncos (Pete Duranko). So my dad's side of the family was a giant football family. Most of them played football, minimally at college, some made it to the NFL. It was always a part of my life growing up.

So you're siding with the Denver Broncos on this one?

You know, I think Carolina is going to win the game, but I'll cheer for Denver because I'd love to see Peyton Manning get one more. I just have a lot of problems seeing Carolina losing. But I am hopeful that Peyton can get one more. I think Cam's going to have plenty more chances to get some.

Big Peyton fan then?

I think he's been great throughout his career. High-class guy. Always seems to do and say the right things. He only has one Super Bowl, I feel like he should have more, but yeah, I've always been a fan.

Is he better than Tom Brady?

(Laughs) Wow, that's a good question. If I was building a team right now, if I had the first pick of building a franchise right now, quite honestly, I'd take Cam Newton. I think [Brady] is an incredible quarterback. You can certainly make an arguement for best ever. But he also had those great Belichick defenses for all those years that Peyton did not have in Indy. So I think that Peyton is a little bit better.

But the thing about Brady that's amazing is that he's playing at this level at his age. Because of that, at the end of the day, he'll probably end up being the better quarterback because he just keeps going.

Go to snack for a Super Bowl party?

I love fried chicken for the Super Bowl. It's great hot. It's great at room temperature. And if you put it in the fridge and take it out it's great cold. It's like pizza. There's not a temperature with fried chicken where it's not fantastic. 

So foods like that work really well for Super Bowl parties. As do, if you want something more substantial, anything like a stew or a chili or something that you can keep on the stove. Keep it right below a simmer, and it's just going to keep getting better as the day goes on.

Any predictions for the Browns next season?

Well, I like the hires. I love the coaching hires. I think that Hue Jackson is the right guy. I think we're going to start moving in the right direction. I am the eternal optimist, so I'm going to say 8-8 next year.

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