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Why Bobby Flay Is the George Clooney of the Food World

Alex Van Buren
Food Features Editor
January 15, 2014

Photo credit: Getty Images

The New York Times and Bobby Flay spent some quality time together recently  to chat about the chef’s forthcoming fine dining establishment, Gato—his first in ages. Writer Jeff Gordinier’s resulting piece is jam-packed with great quotes, including one asserting that “the effortlessly charming, perpetually multitasking, maddeningly slim chef [can] come across as the George Clooney of American gastronomy.” 

Flay = Clooney? OK, sure: he’s likeable, he’s everywhere, and he’s relatively easy on the eyes.

But it turns out the celeb chef wants your respect for his cooking, too (in real time, and not just on TV). In a move reminiscent of Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio’s 2010 reminder that he still had restaurant-worthy skills, Flay plans to prove his kitchen chops at Gato. “People think that I don’t cook,” he tells Gordinier. “And it’s just the furthest thing from the truth.”

Here are the most awesome lines from the piece:

On how Flay has managed to stay a celebrity without seeming like a jerk:

“There’s a reason Mr. Flay has declined offers to swivel his hips on “Dancing With the Stars.”

On how Flay is no longer on the cutting edge of cuisine:

“Bobby Flay is not the cool new kid on the block anymore. He appears to be fine with that. ‘I grew up in New York, and New York basically invented competition,’ he said.”

On how things have changed since the last time Flay opened a buzzy high-end spot (Bolo, in 1993):

“From the standpoint of media buzz, though, the stretch from 1993 to 2014 may as well represent the chasm between Miles Davis and Miley Cyrus.”

On how Flay stays true to the Flay brand:

“He says yes only to TV shows that concentrate on cooking, as opposed to, say, trying to build a campfire on a tropical island.”

The best quote of the whole long piece may well come from Flay himself, who says—perhaps to distinguish himself from a certain other TV celeb chef who recently opened a New York restaurant to harsh reviews—“I’ll never do anything to be a clown, you know what I’m saying?”

[via The New York Times]