As one of Bobby Flay’s first-ever special guests on his all-new series Beat Bobby Flay, Michael Symon was tasked with finding a rival that could outcook the host; after all, no one knows Bobby and his cooking style quite like his longtime colleagues. While Bobby and Michael work together, they’re also close friends and have been known to spend time together offscreen. FN Dish recently caught up with Michael on the set of Beat Bobby Flay to learn more about their friendship and to get an insider’s look at what the famed Iron Chef Flay is like off the clock.
Fans know that you and Bobby are great friends. How did your relationship start?
Michael Symon: Originally we met on my first Food Network show — in 1998 — with Wayne Harley Brachman. Wayne was Bobby’s pastry chef for, like, 15 years, so Bobby and I met then, and we’ve been friends ever since.
What are some things about Bobby that viewers might not know or see on TV.
MS: He’s a pretty quiet guy. [There’s] the personality they see on TV of Bobby — he’s very outgoing on television, obviously — but in real life he’s a pretty quiet guy. Pretty to himself, quiet guy. Very thoughtful guy — a great friend.
When you cook together, what are some of your favorite dishes to make?
MS: We cook outside a lot, so we do a lot of grilling of fish or whole fish. We cook together a lot in the summer, so we bust out the smoker quite a bit. But nothing really specific. We just kind of go to the store, see what looks great, buy it and cook it.
In all these years of working together, you’ve never competed against each other in the kitchen.
MS: We refuse to compete against each other, whether it be on Iron Chef or anything else. We’ve never gone head-to-head. We compete against each other on the golf course; we don’t compete [against] each other in the kitchen.
Who’s got the upper hand on the golf course?
MS: Currently me, which I like.
Tune in to the Season 2 premiere of Beat Bobby Flay on Thursday, July 31 at 10|9c.