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Robert William Flay (December 10, 1964[1] in New York City) is an American celebrity chef, restaurateur, and television personality. He is the owner and executive chef of six restaurants: Mesa Grill and Bar Americain in New York City; Mesa Grill in Las Vegas; Mesa Grill in The Bahamas (Atlantis Paradise Island, Nassau); Bobby Flay Steak in Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Bobby's Burger Palace in Lake Grove, New York & in Eatontown, New Jersery.

Flay has hosted seven Food Network television programs and appeared regularly on an eighth. He has also appeared as a guest on other Food Network shows and hosted a number of specials on the network.

Personal life

Bobby Flay was born December 10, 1964 to Bill and Dorothy Flay in New York City,[1] where he was raised and continues to live.[2] He is a fourth generation Irish American.[3] He married Debra Ponzek, another well known New York City chef, on May 11, 1991.[4] Flay and Ponzak divorced in 1993. He later married Kate Connelly on October 1, 1995, who subsequently divorced him. Mariska Hargitay set up Flay on a blind date with actress Stephanie March, her co-star on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, in March 2001.[1] The two began dating, and Flay proposed on December 19, 2003 while ice skating at Rockefeller Center.[1] They were married February 20, 2005,[5] exactly four years after their first date at Nobu restaurant.

As The New York Times reported, "An early draft of Bar Americain's menu had a beet and goat cheese salad with lentils, but Mr. Flay rejected it before the restaurant opened. 'When I go on vacation, they run specials on lentils,' he said."[6] In 2007, Flay stated that he had "made peace" with lentils.[7] Flay also dislikes fiddlehead ferns, stating that they "taste like grass."[8]

Professional life

Flay dropped out of high school at age 17.[9] Flay spoke about one of his dishes on "Iron Chef America", saying that his first job in the restaurant industry was at Baskin Robbins.[citation needed] Afterwards Flay took a position making salads at Joe Allen Restaurant in New York's Theatre District, where his father was a partner.[1][10] Joe Allen was impressed by Flay's natural ability and decided to pay his tuition at the French Culinary Institute.[11]

Flay received a degree in culinary arts and was a member of the first graduating class of the French Culinary Institute in 1984. After culinary school, he started working as a sous-chef, quickly learning the culinary arts. Flay was handed the executive chef's position after a week when the executive chef was fired. Flay quit when he realized he was not ready to run a kitchen. He took a position as a chef working for restaurateur Jonathan Waxman at Bud and Jams.[1] Waxman introduced Flay to southwestern cuisine, which came to define his culinary career.[11] Flay said, "Jonathan Waxman was the first person to teach me what good food was."[1] Flay additionally worked for a short time on the floor at the American Stock Exchange. Flay's first job back as a chef was as the executive chef at Miracle Grill in the East Village, where he worked from 1988 to 1990.[11] This caught the attention of restaurateur Jerome Kretchmer, who was looking for a southwestern style chef. Impressed by Flay's food, Kretchmer offered him the position of executive chef at Mesa Grill, which opened on January 15, 1991.[2] Shortly after, Flay became a partner. In November 1993, Flay partnered with Laurence Kretchmer to open Bolo Bar & Restaurant[2][11] in the Flatiron District, just a few blocks away from Mesa Grill.

Entrance sign to Mesa Grill in Caesars Palace

Flay opened a second Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 2004,[11] and in 2005 he opened Bar Americain, an American Brasserie, in Midtown Manhattan.[11] He continued to expand his restaurants by opening Bobby Flay Steak in the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This was followed by a third Mesa Grill in The Bahamas, located in The Cove at Atlantis Paradise Island, which opened on March 28, 2007.

Bolo Bar & Restaurant closed its doors on December 31, 2007 to make way for a new condominium.[12]

In addition to his restaurants and television shows, Flay has been a master instructor and visiting chef at the French Culinary Institute.[13] Although he is not currently teaching classes, he occasionally visits when his schedule permits.[14]

Flay established The Bobby Flay Scholarship in 2003. This full scholarship to the French Culinary Institute is awarded annually to a student in the Long Island City Culinary Arts Program. Flay personally helps select the recipient each year.[15][1]

Flay opened Bobby's Burger Palace in Lake Grove, New York on July 15, 2008. The restaurant is located at the Smith Haven Mall.[16] The restaurant is an homage to Flay's memories of hamburger shops from when he was a child. A second location is expected to open in early December 2008 at the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown, New Jersey.[17]

Television and film

Food Network

Flay has hosted seven cooking shows and specials on Food Network, of which five continue to run:

  • Hot Off the Grill with Bobby Flay (no longer airing)
  • Grillin' & Chillin' (no longer airing)
  • FoodNation
  • Boy Meets Grill
  • BBQ with Bobby Flay
  • Throwdown! with Bobby Flay
  • Grill It! with Bobby Flay

Flay served as a judge on The Next Food Network Star and The Next Iron Chef.[18] He has cooked with Emeril Lagasse on his show Emeril Live, and with Paula Deen on her program Paula's Party.

Iron Chef

Flay is an Iron Chef on the show Iron Chef America.

In 1997, when the original Iron Chef show traveled to New York for a special battle, he challenged Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto to battle rock crab. After the hour battle ended, Flay stood on top of his cutting board and raised his arms in premature victory. Not realizing that cutting boards and knives are sacred in Japan, he offended Morimoto who criticized his professionalism, saying that Flay was "not a chef". Flay went on to lose the battle.[19]

Flay challenged Morimoto to a rematch in Morimoto's native Japan. In this battle, at the end of the hour, Flay threw his cutting board on the floor and stood on the counter yet again to raise the roof with the audience. This time, Flay won.[19] Though they share a heated past, Flay and Morimoto, who are both Iron Chefs on Iron Chef America, are now friends.[20] They even teamed – and won – against fellow Iron Chefs Mario Batali, Locke Michaels and Hiroyuki Sakai in the Iron Chef America: Battle of the Masters "Tag Team" battle.

On a special episode of Iron Chef America originally airing on November 12, 2006, Flay and Giada De Laurentiis faced off against, and were defeated by, Rachael Ray and Mario Batali.[21] This was the highest rated show ever broadcast on Food Network.[22]

The team of Iron Chefs Bobby Flay and Michael Symon defeated the team of Iron Chefs Cat Cora and Masaharu Morimoto in a special episode titled Thanksgiving Showdown which originally aired on November 16, 2008.[23]


  • Bobby's Vegas Gamble — Covers the opening of Mesa Grill Las Vegas.[24]
  • Restaurant Revamp — Flay tries to help a family restaurant.[25]
  • Chefography: Bobby Flay — Biography of Flay's life and career.[26]
  • Tasting Ireland — Flay takes a food tour of Ireland, his ancestral homeland.[27]
  • Food Network Awards — The Food Network recognizes people and places that have impacted the food world.[28]
  • All-Star Grill Fest: South Beach — Flay joins Paula Deen, Giada De Laurentiis, Alton Brown, and Tyler Florence for a barbecue.[29]

[edit] Other cooking shows

In 1996, Flay hosted The Main Ingredient with Bobby Flay on Lifetime Television. Twice a month, he hosts a cooking segment on CBS' The Early Show.[2]

Other television and film appearances

Flay cameoed in the Disney Channel original movie Eddie's Million Dollar Cook-Off. Bobby appeared as a judge on the CBS television show "Wickedly Perfect" during the 2004-2005 season. He also appeared in the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Design", which originally aired on September 22, 2005. Flay appeared on the television game show Pyramid with fellow Iron Chef Mario Batali as the guest celebrities in an episode originally airing on November 18, 2003. He had a small role as himself in the 2006 film East Broadway, in which his wife, Stephanie March, had a larger role.[30] Jeopardy! featured a special "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" category during the March 12, 2008 episode, in which each of the clues featured Flay.[31]

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Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
Ultimate chef and love to watch Throwdown with him.
Quick Tip by . June 27, 2010
Bobby Flay is fun to watch! His throw downs are always entertaining and I like that he keeps trying to re-invent recipes and dishes with a unique twist.
Quick Tip by . June 02, 2010
I have no words. Just wow.
review by . April 14, 2009
Initially, I was far from being a fan of Bobby Flay. In the early days of Food Network, before he was their lingering trophy head, Flay was best known for his terrible stunt on the original Iron Chef. He offended the entire stadium by jumping up onto his cutting board with his shoes on at the end of the battle, a huge sign of disrespect in Japan. He dumped his hometown girlfriend and started dating a blond actress (who he eventually married). He seemed like a truly obnoxious narcissist who …
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