Dining » Dining Lead

Class Distinction

The man behind Lola takes his fans to school.

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Cleveland-area foodies have a rare chance to get cooking with award-winning chef and Food Network regular Michael Symon during his upcoming appearance at Cuyahoga Community College on May 15. Symon, chef-owner of Tremont's trendy Lola (900 Literary Road, 216-771-5652), will pair up with culinary instructor Zona Spray to offer a three-hour demonstration class that is part of the 10-city Calphalon Culinary Discovery Tour. On the menu are herb-roasted lamb loin, eggplant capanata, pea crêpes with goat cheese, a spring vegetable omelet, and Bananas Foster crêpes -- all designed not only to whet the appetite, but also to show off Calphalon's professional-quality cookware.

In addition to the demonstration, the $40 fee includes a Calphalon tote bag, cooking accessories, recipes, and of course, samples of Symon and Spray's creations. The class runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Tri-C Metro Campus; to register, call 216-987-4081.

When he's not busy in his kitchen at Lola or flying back and forth to N.Y.C. to tape his show, Symon is one of three traveling representatives for Calphalon, along with cookbook author Joanne Weir and Boston chef Stan Frankenthaler. But despite his hectic schedule, he and his wife and partner, Liz, have found time to take over space above Lola, where they hope to carve out several private dining rooms and a large professional kitchen where Symon can conduct cooking classes -- perhaps with the assistance of out-of-town talent. If all goes as planned, those classes could eventually form the basis of Symon's own locally produced television show.

If Symon's itinerary sounds taxing, wait till you hear what Hudson resident Zona Spray has been up to since selling her cooking school and gourmet shop on Main Street. Besides regularly scheduled gigs as a culinary instructor in Colorado and Tennessee, the accomplished chef has been trekking through the tundra of the Arctic Circle for the past seven years, documenting the cuisine of the vanishing Eskimo culture. Spray was born north of the Arctic Circle, the daughter of teachers working in small Alaskan villages, but hadn't been back north until she began her project in 1993. Her research has convinced her that Eskimo women not only developed a distinctive and tremendously sophisticated cuisine -- including more than 190 wild seasonal plants that they preserved for year-round use -- but did so while working under the most primitive conditions. Spray's work already has earned her honors in academic circles; she's now planning to write a book on the subject.

Mojo on the road

Michael Herschman, chef-owner of that other Tremont treasure, Mojo (2221 Professor Street; 216-592-6656), is also on the move, preparing to lead cooking demonstration/wine-tasting classes at two neighborhood Heinen's stores. The warm-weather menu includes blue mussels in lemon-grass-infused coconut milk, paired with a Sauvignon Blanc; rare chargrilled beef and chimichurri, with a Malbec; and poached shrimp and roasted-corn-and-black-plum salsa, with a Gamay Noir. Despite their sophisticated descriptions, Herschman says the dishes are easy to make and just right for summer entertaining. You can see for yourself from 7 to 9 p.m. on May 10 at the Rocky River Heinen's or on May 17 at the Heinen's in University Heights. Cost is $25; call 216-2300, extension 411, for reservations.

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