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Michael Symon's 23-Year Marriage Is 'A World without Rules' & His Wife Is 'The Most Special Person' to Him

Gaone Pule
Apr 17, 2022
07:30 A.M.
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Apart from cooking up a storm on TV shows, Michael Symon indulges his beautiful wife, Liz Shanahan, whom he has been married to for two decades, with home-cooked meals. The couple met in the '90s, and sparks flew as things moved fast for the pair, who could not deny their strong connection.

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Michael Symon is an American chef who creates boldly flavored dishes that reflect his heritage, having grown up in a Mediterranean and Eastern European family. 

Symon also shares his lively, approachable cooking style with viewers as an "Iron Chef" on the Food Network in shows such as "Burgers, Brew & 'Que." 

(L) Business partners chef Michael Symon and his wife Liz Shanahan on "The Chew" cooking show on February 17, 2012. (R) Michael Symon and Liz Shanahan pictured in an embrace during Season One's "The Chew" on December 15, 2011. / Source: Getty Images

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He is also ABC's resident chef and a former co-host of the Emmy-winning TV show, "The Chew." Besides showcasing his cooking skills, the Cleveland native is the author of six award-winning cookbooks.  

One of the books even landed on The New York Times Best Sellers list. When Symon is not working, he spends time with his family and wife, Liz Shanahan.  

The 52-year-old told Food Network.com that he is an avid gardener and always likes planting an enormous cutting bed for Shanahan that he takes care of.  

Liz Shanahan, Dario Cecchini and Michael Symon during Titans of BBQ at Pier 97 on October 12, 2019 in New York City. / Source: Getty Images

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On November 1, 1998, Symon and Shanahan married at the Pilgrim Church in Cleveland. In 2017, they relocated to Greenwich Village. The couple met in 1990 when Symon was a 20-year-old "young punk who had just graduated from culinary school." 

His first job was at a 40-seat restaurant called Players; he told The New York Times in January 2018. His future spouse, Shanahan, managed the front of the house, said Symon adding

"I was impressed by the way she carried herself. She was pretty and had a presence." 

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The pair later became fast friends and bonded the way people who work closely together do at intense jobs. However, that did not last for long as Symon found another job at a restaurant called Caxton Café.  

The establishment needed a manager, and he took up the position. Years later, Symon dialed Shanahan, who was by then divorced with a six-year-old son, to see if she wanted the job, and she did.  

After work, they would go out with the other staff members for drinks. They would make out, but Symon felt uneasy about it and suggested they be friends instead.  

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A week would pass, and they would go out again and do the same thing. Inevitably, the duo started dating, and months later, they moved in together.  

Two years after that, Symon popped the big question. The reality TV star revealed he did not have money at the time, so he borrowed a ring from a friend. "I lined the hallway with balloons which had different notes attached to them. The last one had the ring," he recalled

The restaurateur shared what he learned from his relationship with Shanahan and exemplified their positions at their joint venture. He stated there are boundaries.  

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Symon said there are things that he is right about, and the same goes for his wife. He supports her sentiments and does not debate her: 

"If she feels strongly about something, I don't debate her, and I've learned not to doubt her and to trust her instincts in business and in this marriage." 

He added that their relationship history taught him that they both have strong points and have learned not to fight the boundaries because there are things beyond one's control. 

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The couple has a heightened sense of connection, communication, and passion for each other. Symon shared that his lovely spouse is enjoyable to sit with and listen to.  

The feeling is mutual for Shanahan, who admitted that though this is her second marriage, it was the first time that she had been able to breathe

"Michael is very chill and nonconfrontational. When you're around that, it gives you the ability to trust and gain confidence." 

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She said they had a solid foundation as good friends because it helped to learn to like each other. Shanahan has also realized that she does not always have to be right with her husband.  

The brunette does not have to be first and has the confidence to admit when she is wrong. Shanahan noted if a partner were constantly combative, it would sever the relationship. But now, she could take a step back and listen to what someone else said because she used to say anything and hurt others. 

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Shanahan is also O.C.D and prefers having coffee handles to the right. Symon tries to live with it, but she has learned to let go more and, with that, has learned to be patient: 

"Our marriage is intertwined in personal and business because we work together, which is how we started. The business part is simple. Marriage is harder." 

Both parties have found their strengths and have discovered each other's strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, "I will always have his back, and he will always have mine," said Shanahan. "I don't think we would be married if we didn't have that." 

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The couple has a partner named Doug Petkovic on the business side of things. They employ roughly 400 workers to operate Lola Lolita and four B Spot restaurants in Greater Cleveland. Symon said he would not make it without his business partners: 

"Oh, I could never live without them. Without Liz or Doug, completely impossible. We just understand each other." 

A PROUD STEPDAD TO SHANAHAN'S SON - WHO FOLLOWED IN HIS FOOTSTEPS

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Along with being a successful business owner, Symon is also a proud stepfather. The TV personality has served as a role model and a mentor to Shanahan's son Kyle from a previous marriage.  

Kyle has followed in his stepdad's culinary footsteps and opened up Grindstone Coffee & Donuts in 2016. His grandparents inspired the name of the store.  

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The father of two shared that he and his grandmother would hike through a river where workers tossed remnants of broken grindstones and carving stones when he was little.

"When I was little, my grandmother and I would hike through the river where the workers tossed the remnants of broken grindstones and carving stones," Kyle said in a March 2018 interview.

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He added that he would hunt them like they were ancient treasure while noting that those days were some of his fondest memories to date:

"I would hunt for them as if they were ancient treasure. It's one of my favorite memories."

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His brioche donuts have become the patrons' favorite of his Sag Harbor establishment. It sells thousands of donuts daily, an outcome Kyle never expected.   

Opening a donut shop had always been a dream of the Ohio native: "I grew up in the industry," said Kyle. "I had no choice, really," he shared in an interview with The Southampton Press in August 2016.

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Apart from being a business genius, Kyle is also a family man. He welcomed his first child with his wife, Krista, their daughter Emmy in December 2018.  

His second child, son Butch, arrived in October 2021. Kyle's dad enjoys being a grandfather and constantly shows off his grandkids on social media, posting adorable pictures of his growing family.

SYMON'S GORGEOUS HAMPTONS HOME 

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While he has amassed great success in his food franchises, Symon continues to prepare his best dishes in his stunning kitchen in his Hamptons estate

The "BBQ Brawl" star purchased the property from another cookbook author, which meant the kitchen was already a perfect fit for his culinary master.  

However, Symon and Shanahan did make a few changes to adjust the space into a more family-friendly environment. "Personalizing a space is the most important thing a new homeowner can do," he told Food Network. "We use every bit of this kitchen because we designed it exactly for our lifestyle." 

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Symon put his kitchen to good use, particularly amid the ongoing pandemic, as he hosted live cooking classes on Facebook called "Cooking Along with Michael Symon." 

He focused on using ingredients he already had at home or grew in his garden. The author later filmed "Symon's Dinners Cooking Out" at home using one of his favorite cooking gadgets, a smoker in his backyard. 

Symon enjoys football Sundays at home, throwing some barbeque onto the grill or in the smoker and spending time in his backyard with pals. 

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Inside his humble abode, the dining area has a kitchen island with plenty of seating for guests. He opted for black barstools instead of traditional kitchen chairs and deemed the most important. 

Since Symon spends most of his time in the kitchen, he took it up a notch by installing state-of-the-art appliances, including a black BlueStar stove. 

Symon and Shanahan have a beautiful view from their kitchen windows. The "Food Feuds" star started his indoor herb garden on the windowsill.  

Symon, the James Beard Award winner, always shares images of his granddaughter Emmy cozying up in the living room with brown leather couches.

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