A Michelein star is nice. A James Beard, great as well. But for some chefs nothing is quite as sweet as besting Bobby Flay.
Since 2013, the Iron Chef, a three-time James Beard honoree himself, has been taking on challengers with his Food Network series, Beating Bobby Flay, a natural extension of the head-to-head face-offs he engaged in on Iron Chef and Throwdown With Bobby Flay. The show’s recipe is straightforward. Each half-hour episode starts with two cooks battling it out to create a meal using a featured ingredient (think: fresh squid, pumpkin puree or sardines).
Once a winner has been determined by the guest judges—as pals of Flay, their prime motivation is finding someone capable of taking him down—they get a swing at The French Culinary Institute grad and they get to decide what’s on the menu, generally a signature dish that they’ve spent years perfecting.
Even with that upper hand, Flay’s competitors don’t serve up humble pie all that often. In 297 episodes, across 25 seasons, the 13-time cookbook author has only lost a respectable 111 times—and more than a few of those were to his fellow Food Network personalities. (Judges named Alex Guarnaschelli the victor in the blind taste test twice; Amanda Freitag has notched another win and, most recently, pastry whiz Buddy Valastro topped Flay in a cake-themed competition.)
“Competing and beating someone of his stature, and knowing how good of a chef he is, it was definitely validation to show my skill exceeded his that day,” Michael Merida told New Jersey’s Pascack Press of winning with his smoked cod croquettes in February’s season 25 premiere. “I wanted to see who the better chef was when it came to flavors—and I out flavored him.”
With no end in sight, there are plenty more opportunities to watch the 55-year-old to get his just desserts (and you can catch 10 of his losses now that seasons eight and nine have dropped on Hulu).
In the meantime, we’re dishing out some secrets about his long-running hit. Eat up!