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?
MS: He said EAT AT SALUMI!!
SM: What’s next up for you? A new book? Restaurant? Another TV show?
MS: 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.