For those who watch The Food Network with any regularity, “Bobby Flay” is a household name. But if you love food, and you still don’t recognize him, catch his show Wednesdays at 9pm/8c.
Bobby Flay, according to his bio on Starchefs.com, discovered his love of cooking at age 17, taking a job at Joe Allen’s restaurant in which his father was a co-owner. Allen was so taken aback at Flay’s natural talent that he paid his full tuition to the French Culinary Institute. How’s that for a scholarship? He later received the school’s first “Outstanding Graduate Award” in 1993.
Today, he is perhaps best known on The Food Network for being one of the four current “Iron Chefs,” able to prepare four-course meals in a single hour, as well as the host of “Throwdown with Bobby Flay,” in which he travels around the U.S. and challenges master chefs and bakers on their signature dishes.
“Throwdown” may be of particular interest, even to non-chefs, because it features many classic meals familiar to Americans all across the map. Past episodes have included macaroni ‘n’ cheese, Philly Cheese Steak, fish ‘n’ chips, pizza, and more.
The catch, with “Throwdown,” is that the guest chefs don’t know beforehand that they are part of Flay’s show, and are more or less tricked into believing that they are hosting their own special. Meanwhile, Flay and his team of assistants put together their version of whatever signature dish is being featured. Of note: Flay’s versions of each dish are almost always non-traditional. Some of the recipes from the show can be found at The Food Network’s site.
In case you’re wondering if the show is educational in any way, you can certainly learn a lot about how different dishes are prepared. Not only that, but you may also get some history lessons around where the various foods came from. It’s also interesting to see the success stories of many of the chefs Flay competes against. Just think: you may even be one someday!
Besides “Throwdown,” Flay has appeared in a number of other food-related shows, including “Taste NY,” “All Star Grill-Fest: South Beach,” “Grill It!,” which he continues to host, and “The Next Food Network Star,” in which he serves as one of the judges.
In addition to the above “cooking shows,” where you might reasonably expect to see Flay, you may be surprised to learn that he once made a cameo in “Law and Order: SVU,” playing the part of “Leo Ashford.” It was during this appearance that he met his current wife, actress Stephanie March, known for her role as Alexandra Cabot on “SVU.”
Now…if you aren’t a particular fan of The Food Network in general (and for some of the shows, that’s understandable) you may still like “Throwdown,” in that it’s not a typical cooking show. Lord knows, there are a good many people who cringe at the names “Martha Stewart” or “Rachael Ray.” “Throwdown” has all of the great recipes without all the nausea.
As mentioned before, Flay can also be seen on “Iron Chef America,” though he’s a bit more in the background. “Iron Chef” is, in five words, TFN’s answer to the NFL. Apparently, many fans of the original Japanese “Iron Chef” (a.k.a. “Ryori no tetsujin”) have been disappointed with the result, as the blending of cultures results in some strange combinations of food.
Mainly as a result of “Throwdown,” it seems, Flay has become a celebrity in his own right. He made an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” in this case to “show Americans how to build the perfect sandwich.” DeGeneres, as usual, made this a highly comedic event.
Flay’s is a great “humble beginnings” story, and you could even go so far as to say that he’s a role model for kids who struggle in school. Granted, not everyone possesses his talent for culinary wizardry, but you could just as easily transfer cooking ability to painting, sculpting, dance, music, sports, and more.
Some may ask the question, “What makes Bobby Flay such a great host?” Like other TV stars such as DeGeneres, Oprah, and Jon Stewart, Flay has an immediately likeable, down-to-earth personality and ability to charm his audience. This, perhaps, is one of the reasons he has crossover success with those who don’t typically watch cooking shows.
So…if you have a free Wednesday evening, check out “Throwdown with Bobby Flay,” and if you enjoy that, see him again Thursday at 8 PM on “Iron Chef America.” Bobby Flay just might make an unexpected foodie out of you.