Q & A with Bobby Flay, Part 2: Why Being on TV is the Easy Part
In the first part of our interview with Bobby Flay, he gave us some insight into how his opinion of the L.A. restaurant scene has changed over the years, as well as how he thinks the Food Network has molded the food industry across the country. In the second part, Flay explains why as a judge on Food Network Star, he plans to squash any contender who can't pull their weight in the kitchen. He also gives us a peak into his new show Barbecue Addiction, which sounds more like a juggling act than a cooking show.
The Food Network Bobby Flay on the set of his newest cooking show, Barbecue Addiction
Read the continued interview after the jump, and check back soon for a Bobby Flay original recipe.
Squid Ink: With Food Network Star, you've got people who are making this their goal now. Is there anything you wish you could warn the contestants before they become famous?
Bobby Flay: Yes. Don't even show up unless you really know how to cook. That to me, as a chef and as one of the judges, is the most important thing. If you can't cook, I'm not going to let you go far. Like, by myself. I don't even need help from Bob [Tuschman] and Susie [Fogelson] in this case. That's the the thing be really tough on, because I want to add somebody to the roster. I want somebody who's going to be a great authority figure.
That doesn't mean they need to be the next Thomas Keller, or the next Wolfgang Puck, but it can be someone like Melissa d'Arabian who won a couple of seasons ago, who is a fantastic home cook and helps mothers everywhere get food to their table every night. So I think there's an importance at every single level when it comes to food. They could be the next Wolfgang Puck and that would be great to add to the Network, but they could be somewhere where Melissa is, or somewhere in between. It doesn't matter. As long as you have a great point of view and it's all about food.
SI: So basically you could have all the charisma in the world but if you can't fry an egg, it's not going to work.
BF: Well, somebody asked me this morning, 'Don't you think it's easier to have someone who has personality and then teach them how to cook?' No way. I'd rather have someone who knows how to cook who's not good on TV, 'cause I can teach them the TV part.
SI: What part of that can be taught, do you think?
BF: I think all of it can be taught. You know, I'm on TV now all the time, but I can tell you right now that when I first started, I wasn't crisp at it. That's for sure. I was not good at it. But the only thing that got me better was working hard, and experience. There's no substitute for that.
I produced a few of my own shows and I produced some other people on the Network, and I constantly worked with them to get them to be better. But if they don't have the confidence in what they're doing in terms of what they're teaching, you can't help them. They'll never be confident. But as long as you're confident about what you're doing, then I can teach you to be good on TV.
SI: You've done so many TV shows. We'd guess that Iron Chef is the most stressful?
BF: It's the hardest thing I do, for sure.
SI: And we'd think the cooking shows and barbecue shows--you're old hat at this point. Are they a breeze for you nowadays?