I am often asked which Iron Chef is the most intimidating to judge in Kitchen Stadium, and without hesitation, I always reply, “Bobby Flay.” His well-earned reputation, coupled with that calm penetrating stare when a panelist dares to give a negative comment on one of his dishes, is enough to make even the toughest of critics shrivel like a salted slug.
Fortunately for me, he definitely seems to bring his “A” game when I am on the panel, and although he is not always victorious, I am constantly reminded of why he is the chef so many contenders want to test their culinary chops against.
I grabbed a couple of minutes with Iron Chef Flay before battle to ask him these, 10 very important questions.
The Cookery Police are going to raid your house and take all of your books. They allow you to save one. Which would it be?
BF: The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers
Who was your culinary mentor(s)?
BF: Jonathan Waxman and Wolfgang Puck
What is your single favorite piece of kitchen equipment?
BF: Chimney starter
Have you ever considered that any ingredient in Kitchen Stadium was beneath you?
BF: No, not at all.
Have you ever put a dish in front of the judges on Iron Chef America that you knew was lousy, but you got away with it?
BF: No. I made a fondue out of goat cheese that sucked and the judges hated it, rightly so.
I know you like to travel as much as your schedule allows. Which country’s cuisine has been the most surprising in its variety and quality?
BF: Ireland. It has a bad rep for cuisine, but the ingredients are amazing and the chefs are changing the culinary landscape.
Is there one chef out there that you would love to persuade to battle you on Iron Chef America?
BF: That’s easy: Gordon Ramsay.
Could you survive without green chili?
BF: Yes, but only if you don’t take the red ones, as well.
What would be the one tip you would give any aspiring young chef?
BF: Work for a chef whose food you respect and absorb all you can.
Name your three desert-island ingredients.
BF: Ice cream, bourbon and red chili