Most of us don't spend a lot of time hanging out at Liz and Michael Symon's house -- and if you do, mad props to you. But even if you're not a member of the Lola owners' inner circle, you can be part of the next best thing by signing up for one of Michael Symon's immensely entertaining cooking classes.
Held in the hip new kitchen/classroom/dining space above Lola (at 900 Literary Road in Tremont), the events are intimate and relaxed, with Symon alternately demonstrating technique, dispensing culinary wisdom, and cracking wise. A recent class on Greek-inspired foods, featuring Symon's mother, Angel, as his co-instructor, was typical of the down-to-earth vibe: For much of the session, Angel humorously fretted over her son's cooking technique, reminding him repeatedly not to burn dessert. The maternal hovering eventually prompted an obviously delighted Symon to complain in mock dismay, "Here I am, a professional chef, and I overhear her telling my dad one day that I'm 'not a bad cook'!"
The menu for this particular class (part of Symon's Cooking Wise series) included roasted onions stuffed with ground lamb in a light yogurt-tomato sauce; roasted snapper with leeks, red pepper, and an avgolemono-style sauce; and Angel Symon's justifiably famous, honey-soaked baklava. Even better than sitting in on the prep, though, was sitting down at big tables in the private dining room afterward to feast on the finished works. With the chef doing double duty as server, and Liz Symon pouring specially selected Greek wines, the meal was as friendly and boisterous as a big, fat party -- with really good food.
The remaining classes in the Cooking Wise series are sold out, but a new series should debut around the end of June. Like the Greek class, these three-hour, $100 soirees will begin with a glass of bubbly and conclude with food and wine. For those with less time and/or money, Symon also teaches a Basic Techniques series, with discussion, demonstration, and sampling. These two-hour programs are $55; upcoming topics include stews (May 7), roasting (May 13), appetizers (May 20), hors d'oeuvres (May 27), and desserts (June 3). For more info or to register, call 216-771-5652, Tuesday through Saturday, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.