Michael Symon Reveals Why Cooking With Ray Liotta Was So Special - Exclusive

Michael Symon grew up eating pappardelle with Sunday sauce. He's not simply passionate about the dish — it's his happy place. When Symon opened his Italian joint, Angeline, in Atlantic City, his mom's Sunday sauce was the star of the show. "We used to get in trouble for walking by and dipping bread in it while it was simmering," the celebrity chef told The New York Post. "Now my mom knows to make a double batch for this reason!" 

You wouldn't truly understand Symon's zeal for the sauce unless you grew up in a similar household. "Goodfellas" legend Ray Liotta — who was adopted into an Italian-American household — did. That kind of shared understanding forms a blood bond. As Italian Michelin-starred chef Paolo Gramaglia told CNN, "tomatoes are in our DNA." It's little wonder that when Liotta and Symon cooked together on the set of "The Chew," their chemistry was tangible through the screen. To this day — Symon told Mashed in an exclusive interview — he cherishes the moment.

Michael Symon remembers Ray Liotta's The Chew experience

Ray Liotta visited the set of "The Chew" in 2018. Fans might remember Michael Symon geeking out with the actor over the "Goodfellas" sauce-making scene — the one where they're delicately slicing garlic with razor blades in prison.

"Cooking on the show with Ray was spectacular. It was special in a lot of ways. We knew a lot of the same people," Symon remembered during his exclusive interview with Mashed. "[Same with] growing up, eating a sauce of that nature. Watching the movie and then getting to make it with him was one of those special moments for me. [I loved] the whole story about Martin Scorsese's mom and how she would make the sauce every day and bring it to the set and go over how it was made."

That moment on "The Chew" with Liotta transported Symon. "What makes food special to me is how sometimes it could bring you back to a place. That type of sauce — if you grew [up] Sicilian or Italian American — it brings you to a place," he told us. "It brings you to your childhood and sitting around the table with your family. The products that I grew up [with] — that sauce that I made was in that show." 

Chef Michael Symon recently partnered with Contadina, a company that cans the kind of tomatoes you need for a good Sunday sauce. As part of the partnership, Symon developed a new Roasted Chicken with Tomato Chili Relish recipe! Check it out by visiting his Instagram.