Michael Symon is more than a chef in Cleveland. His bald head, booming voice and meaty dishes are staples of the city. The restaurateur is a fixture on the Food Network, the Cooking Channel and ABC (notably The Chew). He is the owner of downtown Cleveland restaurants Lola, Lolita and The B Spot.
One could go as far as to call him the LeBron James of cooking. Then again, Symon did not leave town for four years.
When James pondered his decision to stay in Miami or return to Cleveland this summer, Symon voiced his opinion toward an old customer.
— michael symon (@chefsymon) July 9, 2014
"He was always great to us before he left," Symon says. "He was very supportive of my restaurant and me and helping out with charity stuff. If I needed a jersey signed, he was up for it. I wanted to see him come back. We just threw our name out there and did anything we could to bring him back."
James was a frequent visitor of Lola during his first stint with the Cavaliers. Symon commends James on being a supporter of all Cleveland restaurants and businesses. But James' first "Decision" left a poor taste in Symon's mouth.
"I hated the way that he left, but I never had a personal thing with LeBron because he was already great to the city of the Cleveland," Symon says.
Now, with James back, Symon has to follow through on his end of the bargain. James will indeed design a burger with Symon. The dish will add to Symon's already diverse menu and a percentage of sales will go to the LeBron James Family Foundation.
@KingJames thank you coming home..i owe u a designer burger & a dinner for your charity of choice..lmk…great day for northeast ohio
— michael symon (@chefsymon) July 11, 2014
As for the burger itself, Symon is not expecting James to go for anything too meaty. The King's figure suggests a lighter order.
"He ate a lot of steaks when he came to Lola," Symon says with a laughs. "Right now, he's looking about as lean as can be. There's not going to be a lot sugar and bread in that burger."
On a personal level, Symon is excited to see his fellow Cleveland celebrity on a regular basis again. Symon has not seen much of James since his Miami sabbatical.
Symon spent his summer working close with Bank of America and the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card. Fans could show off their barbecue dishes to Symon at the hashtag #123BBQ and he unveiled a series of webisodes on YouTube called Serious Eats.
LeBron James is far from the old Cleveland athlete that comes through Lola and Symon's other establishments. He provides meat to a series of players from the Cavs, Browns and Indians.
ThePostGame asked Symon what he would serve the top athletes such as Kevin Love, Brian Hoyer and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland. Symon was quick to respond with hypothetical dishes:
Michael Symon's Dishes For Cleveland Athletes
"He ate a lot of steaks when he came to Lola. I would grill him a ribeye."
"[Johnny's] a little bit more on the flashy side. Word on the street is he's been hitting up Chipotle a little bit. I would barbecue him up some slow smoked pork ribs."
"He's already played in the Midwest. He's coming back. I'd definitely give him a little pork and sauerkraut–slow cooked pork. Maybe some kielbasa in there and honey mustard."
"He comes into the restaurant all the time. There are no limitations with Swish. I'd ask him what he wants and go bang it out on the grill."
"Brian is a great guy. Big supporter of the restaurant. He tends to be adventurous, but he doesn't know he's adventurous. He'll get this joke if he reads it. I would grill him up some sweet bread and no, they are not bread."
"He's young, he's kind of starting to get more comfortable in the NBA. I'll try to get him a little more comfortable going out to dinner. I'd get him half a grilled chicken and I would serve it with a salsa verde. Simple and clean. It'll help him prepare to go to the next level."
"He's very fleet of foot. I'd have to go a little bit lighter. Maybe go out to the lake, get a little bit of wild salmon. Keep it very simple, very light with some lemon and virgin olive oil."
"He comes to the restaurant quite a bit. He's like Swish. I'd give him whatever he wants."
"Sometimes his hammies are a little bit tight. I'd probably have to go vegan with him. Some grilled green beans, some eggplant. Keep him nice and loose, so he doesn't pull a hammy."
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.