Between Iron Chef America, Throwdown and the premiere season of Beat Bobby Flay, Bobby Flay has faced his share of culinary competitors. He’s no stranger to the demands of heated battles and knows what it takes to succeed in a pressure-packed arena. But, after all, as the goal of Beat Bobby Flay is to find a rival who can take him down, there’s no shortage of chefs ready to try their hands — and recipes — against those of the famed Iron Chef. FN Dish caught up with Bobby on the set of Beat Bobby Flay to learn his advice to his future competitors and what he thinks they ought to do to succeed. Read on below to hear what he had to say and find out what he revealed to be his culinary weak points.
What advice would you give a competitor preparing to battle you for the first time?
Bobby Flay: My advice would be … to challenge me to a dish that they’re really well-versed in, because the lights, the cameras and the action are going to be an obstacle that they probably don’t think is going to be a big deal, but it is.
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.
Just two losses after nearly 10 battles — that winning record could be earned only by Bobby Flay, a famed Iron Chef and the master of the throwdown, who first challenged hopeful chefs to head-to-head competitions on Beat Bobby Flay last year. This summer, Bobby’s bringing his A-game yet again for an all-new season of Beat Bobby Flay (premiering July 31 at 10|9c), and with his reputation on the line, the stakes will be higher than ever. FN Dish caught up with Bobby recently and chatted about what he’s looking forward to in this upcoming batch of face-offs. Read on below for an exclusive interview, and find out Bobby’s most-memorable battles, plus his strategy for securing victory after victory.
What are you most looking forward to in Season 2?
Bobby Flay: Being pushed to the edge. I want it to be really challenging ’cause that’s what keeps my edge going.
What are some of your most-memorable moments from the first season?
BF: When I lost the taco [battle] — that was memorable. One of my favorite dishes I made was the meatloaf with the Korean-style kimchi in it, ’cause I’ve only made meatloaf a couple times in my life, really, and I’m not that big of a meatloaf fan. So when they said meatloaf, I was like, Oh, brother. But it actually turned out to be really tasty.
Coining that phrase on last night’s episode of Beat Bobby Flay, Bobby likened these tiny fish to one product that nearly everyone enjoys: bacon. As both ingredients are deliciously salty, they’re capable of imparting rich flavor and transforming a dish to next-level deliciousness with minimal effort. The host reached for anchovies as he worked on a crispy, spicy topping for Cauliflower and Mushroom Mac and Cheese, and while his competitor wondered if they would complement dairy, Bobby’s dish indeed wowed the judges, who deemed his offering the best of the day.
While bacon is crunchy, anchovies are tender and can be broken down, so if you incorporate them into a dressing or dissolve them in a sauce — or opt for anchovy paste instead of whole anchovies — you’ll be able to enjoy their deep taste without biting into a whole anchovy or seeing them laid atop a salad or bowl of pasta. “You could get a lot of good flavor out of anchovies,” Bobby said, which is why he softened them in a mixture of breadcrumbs, Calabrian chilies and olive oil in his crispy topping.
Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite recipes with anchovies and anchovy paste below to experience their robust flavor firsthand.
He may be a revered Iron Chef, an unapologetic mentor on Food Network Star and a restaurant owner many times over, but when it comes to facing off against some of the best chefs in the country, Bobby Flay isn’t indestructible. Just a few weeks ago on Beat Bobby Flay, the host fell to Chef Brian Tsao in one challenge — Battle Taco — that would have seemingly been Bobby’s for the taking; after all, the Iron Chef is known for his affinity for and mastery of Southwestern cuisine. He offered guest judges his version of a puffy taco, and while they indeed offered praise for the dish, it was no match for Chef Brian’s Korean-inspired plate.
It turns out, however, that Bobby has a long history with puffy tacos. FN Dish recently caught up with him and he revealed that his 2007 puffy-taco challenge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay is among his most-memorable cook-offs to date — but not necessarily because of the result of the battle.
Much like you probably prepare to cook an important meal by stocking up on any ingredients and specialty tools you may need, so, too, do the culinary teams on Food Network shows before filming begins. Shopping for goods to stock the pantry and refrigerator is up to them. For the all-new series Beat Bobby Flay, the team was tasked with readying the kitchen with enough food and equipment for not one round of cooking, but two, and the selection had to be great enough to ensure that the guest chefs and Bobby would be able to make whatever dish they wanted.
FN Dish was on the set of Beat Bobby Flay recently and caught up with the show’s culinary producer, Danielle LaRosa, to find out more about what it takes to make the series happen. Read on below to see insider photos of the kitchen and learn some of the most-popular ingredients on set from Danielle.
“We have at least 200 items in our pantry daily for both contestants and Bobby to have access to,” Danielle said. “Some of these 200 items include 30 kinds of spices (plus more as the season has gone on), 80 items in the dry pantry (including breads, vinegars, dried fruit, etc.), [and] 45 different kinds of fruits and vegetables.”
With Bobby’s winning record in Kitchen Stadium and years’ worth of cook-off experience on Throwdown, the chefs hoping to take him down on his all-new series, Beat Bobby Flay, know that victory is going to be far from simple. This Iron Chef is known for his get-it-done sensibilities in the kitchen, and as the chefs who’ve cooked alongside him and the judges who’ve tasted his food know, he’ll stop at nothing to turn out challenge-worthy plates every time.
Before a competitor can advance to battle Bobby, however, he or she must win in a face-off against a peer; it’s up to Bobby’s closest friends and colleagues to determine which among them would be most-likely to succeed in a head-to-head matchup against him. FN Dish caught up with these Round 1 special guests — either on the set of Beat Bobby Flay or at the Savor Borgata celebration at Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa — to ask them a question: What does it take to beat Bobby Flay? They know his strengths and weaknesses like few others do, have cooked with him personally and professionally, and they’re sure to be honest when it comes to doling out advice to Bobby’s potential defeaters. Hear what Alex Guarnaschelli, Anne Burrell, Michael Symon and more Food Network stars had to say.
No stranger to fierce competition, Bobby Flay is a longtime Iron Chef with a winning record in Kitchen Stadium, and he’s thrown down with some of the top chefs and home cooks across the country. But beginning this weekend, Bobby will launch an all-new kind of contest on his upcoming series, Beat Bobby Flay. Beginning with a sneak-peek episode on Monday, March 3 at 10|9c, Bobby will welcome rival competitors into the kitchen for a face-off, and he’s looking to find who among them can beat him in battle. Each show will feature two competitors going head-to-head in a preliminary-round cook-off; it’s up to Bobby’s closest friends and colleagues to decide which competitor is worthy of the chance to challenge Bobby in Round 2.
FN Dish was on the set of Beat Bobby Flay recently to take in the sights and sounds of the competition, and to get an insider’s look at the kitchen where the contest unfolded. Bobby and the rival chefs have their own workstations in the kitchen, which offer all of the tools, pans and equipment they may need to turn out winning dishes. The pantry overflowed with myriad fresh produce and an assortment of dry goods, while the refrigerator was piled high with creamy cheeses, crisp lettuce, a range of meats and various stocks.
Just this past summer you watched two fearless chefs put their reputations on the line as they attempted to take down Bobby Flay in the kitchen. Beginning this March, all-new hopeful competitors will head to New York City to do the same on the first-ever season of Beat Bobby Flay. These established industry professionals are confident in their cooking chops, but when it comes to facing off against an Iron Chef, everyday skills may not be enough to succeed.
Before the chefs can go head-to-head against the famed culinary master, they’ll have to prove their worth in a showdown against each other. Bobby’s closest friends and longtime chef-colleagues will be on hand to judge this preliminary cook-off before deciding which one can advance to battle with Bobby. While Bobby may have years of experience in culinary competitions behind him, his competitor will have one key advantage: choosing the challenge dish. With only seconds of on-the-spot thinking to prepare, Bobby will have to make the ultimate version of his rival’s dish in the hopes that a new crop of judges will select his as supreme in a blind tasting.