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Issue Date: May 2008 Issue

Michael Symon

Michael Symon is cruising in the car with his mom as he describes the mechanics of how he turns raw ingredients into his famed dishes.

“To create a dish,” he says,“I think about three components: acid, salt and fat.Acid cuts through the richness of fat. Salt brings everything together.”

But the taste that really gets his culinary engine humming is sour. “I use a variety of citrus, a multitude of vinegars and even certain dry wines,” he notes. “They make flavors clean and bright. Keep the palate open. Without it, dishes are flat.”

The grilled hanger steak at Lola is turbocharged with this flavor philosophy. The beef is paired with a salad of pickled shallots, serrano peppers and jalapeños. A reduction sauce is hopped-up with diced house-made cucumber pickles and pickled chiles. “I want to do stuff that’s exciting to eat, and this dish has a lot of action,” says Symon. You could say it takes your mouth on a fast ride in a hot rod. And the secret to his success? It’s simple, he says. Just keep on tasting. “I’ve learned by putting food in my mouth. That’s the best way to learn everything you need to know about flavor.”

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