Three of Food Network's longest-standing chefs, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, are no strangers to the demands of stardom, now having years of experience multitasking in front of the camera and cooking. But before they were industry professionals, Alton, Bobby and Giada, too, once had to learn the ins and outs of what this job entails, much like Star finalists will in the early weeks on set. As Star Talk gets ready to kick off an all-new ninth season of Food Network Star, we'll be taking a look back at each judge-mentor's earliest days on the network, revisiting their earliest shows and exploring how they turned their passion for food into a full-time job.
Although he's now the host of Bobby's Barbecue Addiction and Barbecue with Bobby Flay, this New York City chef's range in the industry reaches far beyond outdoor grilling. A longtime Iron Chef, Bobby has been competing on the Chairman's elite team of culinary masters since Iron Chef America's inception in 2005, although he partook in several face-offs with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, an Iron Chef in Japan, before he, too, joined the ranks of Kitchen Stadium stateside.
With more than 50 battles under his belt, Bobby's no stranger to the demands and challenges of cooking in Iron Chef America's great culinary amphitheater. He's been known to take sizeable but well-calculated risks in his cooking techniques, testing the boundaries of such familiar and unexpected Secret Ingredients as bananas, chocolate, wild boar and barramundi. No matter his challenges, however, more often than not, Bobby's showing in Kitchen Stadium results in a victory over his competition.
Whether he's throwing down against a competitor in Kitchen Stadium or cooking for friends and family in his at-home kitchen, Bobby gravitates toward the foods of the American Southwest, specializing in light, fresh twists on tacos, guacamole and more. He's been cooking since he was a teenager, first at Joe Allen's, a restaurant in New York City's theater district. There, he impressed Joe so much so that Joe sent him to The French Culinary Institute for formal training. Bobby quickly climbed the culinary ladder at various restaurants after graduation before ultimately opening his first solo venture, Mesa Grill. Now the owner of two additional Mesa Grills, plus Bobby Flay Steak, Bar Americain and more than 10 Bobby's Burger Palaces, Bobby has created a fleet of approachable restaurants at which his fans can experience the cuisine they know him for firsthand.
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