Michael Symon's Loaded BBQ Potatoes Left Guy Fieri Stunned

Food Network celebrities Michael Symon and Guy Fieri have a close relationship, but in 2017, the two were engaged in a Twitter beef. The war of online words stemmed from Symon's hometown Cleveland Cavaliers playing Fieri's Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. Fieri had a Warriors jersey custom-made with "Symon" emblazoned across the back to troll his friend. "That jersey even looks big for you!!" the "BBQ USA" host jokingly replied on Twitter. Although. Fieri admitted the online beef was all in good fun. "Listen, the funny thing about this, I'm not a Twitter war guy. We're really good friends," he told Sports Illustrated at the time. "He's such a phenomenal chef."

The year before the 2017 NBA Finals, the Cavaliers defeated the Warriors, which made Fieri hungry for revenge. "So this year we're taking it to the airwaves a little bit, but it's all in good energy," he explained while discussing his rivalry with Symon in a 2017 interview. This led to the Food Network hosts declaring why their respective shows were the best. "For me, my show covers the three most important food groups," Symon told Sports Illustrated, referring to "Burgers, Brew & 'Que" as Symon was known for delicious barbecue.

Years later, in April 2022, Symon's Cleveland restaurant Mabel's hosted Fieri's crew to film an episode of "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives." To promote the Food Network crossover, Mabel's posted a photo of their loaded fried potatoes, which wound up making quite the impression on Fieri.

Guy Fieri loved Michael Symon's brisket

When Guy Fieri rolled through Cleveland to check out Michael Symon's barbecue restaurant Mabel's for "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives," he was treated to the brisket-loaded fried potatoes. In addition to the barbecued meat, the potatoes were topped with cheese sauce, scallions, and pickled jalapenos. The "DDD" host was blown away when he tried the dish and was notably impressed with the texture. "The potatoes survive this, and there's still a crunch like it's a potato chip," Fieri said after his sample tasting. "The brisket is championship brisket. It's tender, it's delicious," he added.

As the "Iron Chef" judge revealed during the episode, the brisket was prepared with a dry rub consisting of salt, black pepper, coriander, and celery seed. A Cleveland-style BBQ sauce was applied to the meat before the rub, and then the brisket was cooked for 12 hours. For the base of the dish they used russet potatoes which were steamed, cooled, and then par-fried to achieve that "crunch" that Fieri raved about.

The "Symon's Suppers" host used a sauce and dry rub for the loaded BBQ potatoes dish but usually opts for a minimal approach when it comes to barbecuing. "I love the style of Texas with barbecue. Most of the time, their seasoning is just salt and pepper, and they get all the flavor from the smoke," he told Tasting Table in February. In the past, Symon had given tips on preparing both barbecue and his noteworthy potatoes.

Why Michael Symon's dog inspired his restaurant's name

The barbecue restaurant where Guy Fieri sampled the loaded fried potatoes, Mabel's, was named after Michael Symon's Bullmastiff dog. The name was both an ode to the chef's furry friend and his approach to cooking. "Barbecue is slow. The brisket takes 18 hours, almost as long it would take Mabel to get to the back of the restaurant," Symon told WKYC in 2016. He used the slow-cooking technique for all the BBQ. "The ribs take about three hours, brisket takes 18 hours, beef ribs take 15 hours," the Food Network personality added. Becoming a barbecue expert was an organic progression for the "Symon's Dinners: Cooking Out" host as it dated back to his first job in the restaurant business. "I was 14 years old and I worked in my buddy's dad's restaurant, which was a barbecue restaurant," he relayed to Mashed in 2021.

Over the years, Symon not only picked up tricks on preparing savory meats but also developed a tasty potato recipe — the basis for the loaded BBQ potatoes at Mabel's. In a recipe shared with the Food Network titled "JW Potatoes, Mabel's Style," Symon recommends cooking the potatoes at 400 degrees for an hour and fifteen minutes. He suggests doing this the day before if possible so they can fully cool. Then cut them into one to two-inch pieces, and fry in peanut oil or lard.