Restaurateur Michael Symon visited Detroit on Friday to cook a five-course meal for a gala at his meat-centric restaurant Roast.
The sold-out gala, being held Friday night at Roast in the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit, benefits Greening of Detroit, a nonprofit that aims to improve the ecosystem.
While in town, the Cleveland native stopped by Greening of Detroit’s 2.5-acre farm in Eastern Market for a cooking demo inside a 144-foot-long hoop house, where kale, chard, peppers, herbs and other food grows year round.
“We love Detroit, and we love being part of everything that you guys do here,” said the celebrity chef nearby a table of ingredients that included frisée lettuce, Fresno peppers and an entire octopus. “It’s all edible, and smaller ones are easier to cook,” he said of the octopus.
“The Greening (of Detroit) really sums up a lot of that city pride,” Symon said, “and what you can do with something if you put your mind do it instead of just walking away”
The Greening’s gardens serve to teach people how to become urban farmers and provides food for local restaurants and the needy.
As Symon assembled an octopus salad, he dispensed food advice, emphasizing cooking with what you like and using ingredients that are fresh and available.
“Don’t get caught up in the ingredients, get caught up in the season,” he said. “Look at what is prevalent and use that with the dish.”
The Iron Chef and James Beard Foundation Award winner, who was casual and funny with the small crowd, believes less is more, especially when adding ingredients or dressing.
“It’s not called sauce, it’s called pasta. Pasta should be lightly sauced. Salads should be lightly dressed.”