Bobby Flay is a tough-talking New Yorker who worked his way up from scooping ice cream at Baskin-Robbins as a teenager to becoming one of the biggest stars of the culinary craze that has swept TV in the last decade, on shows such as "Iron Chef America" and "Throwdown! with Bobby Flay."
Flay was raised on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and showed an early interest in cooking. When he was 8 years old, he asked for an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas; his parents were puzzled but granted the wish.
When he was a teenager, his father, then a partner in the New York eatery Joe Allen, ordered his unemployed son to show up the next day because the busboy needed time off. Flay stayed on and eventually went for formal cooking training at the French Culinary Institute. In 1987, he was hired as the top chef at Manhattan's Miracle Grill.
Flay was drawn to Southwestern cooking even though at the time he had never even visited that area of the country. His versions of Tex-Mex favorites won raves and he and partners opened Mesa Grill in New York in 1991. The spot soon became a favorite with foodies and celebrities.
With his reputation growing in cooking circles, Flay branched out to TV and became one of the most prolific celebrity chefs for Food Network. On "Iron Chef," he engaged in an epic 2000 battle against Japanese master chef Masaharu Morimoto, who won the challenge.
Flay went on to appear on numerous other shows, including "Boy Meets Grill," "Great Chefs" and "Beat Bobby Flay." He’s also written numerous cookbooks.
But actually working in the kitchen remains the love of Flay's life.
"You can call it an obsession, but to me it's my job," he said in a 2014 interview. "It's my work. It's a thing I love to do. Way more than television — no offense."