Celebrity chef Bobby Flay is coming to South Coast Plaza this week (see end of blog post for event info!) to promote his latest book, and again: I won't be able to attend a food celebrity's gracing of our backwater 'burbs because the day job beckons. I don't have any pressing questions for the man, other than where he will eat in OC that day (if anywhere), but I also wanted to shake Flay's hands because I actually like him, celebrity gossip notwithstanding. Anyhoo, since we like lists here, here's five reasons why Flay is A-OK.
1. He's one of the less-annoying Food Network universe personalities.
Flay doesn't drip with Southern humors like Paula Deen, sarcastically preen like Alton Brown, mug like Guy Fieri (more on him in a bit), sweat profusely like Michael Symon, spazz like Mo Rocca, or gets under-utilizes ala Aarón Sanchez. Sure, Flay tries to approximate a tough-guy bravado, but what do you expect from a New York mick?
2. Throwdown! with Bobby Flay is better at highlighting regional food than Diners, Drive-In, and Dives
The execution of Flay's signature show is hokey (envelope with instructions? Where's Maxwell Smart when you need him?), and Flay almost never improves on his competition. But unlike the much-more popular Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives–which squeezes in three restaurants into a 30-minute (not including commercials) time slot, jumping around from dish to dish to customer to host Fieri's incessant faux-bro schtick–Flay's half-hour program devotes itself to one dish that's a hallmark of its region and celebrates each (and the people who make it) like the Holy Grail of foodstuff that it usually is.
3. Bobby Flay appeared on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
Okay, everyone appears on the long-running NBC crime drama, and Flay is currently married to former SVU star Stephanie March. But Flay's blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance in a 2005 episode was a good imitation of life: Flay played a gruff, no-nonsense chef briefly questioned by detectives in the course of an investigation. While we're at it, kudos also to Rocca for his appearance on the show, when he played an annoying twit.
4. Bobby Flay pisses people off
Maybe it's because Flay dabbles with the Hollywood crowd. Maybe it's because he really is an asshole. But Flay seems to provoke anger from the public in a way too few Food Network stars elicit (when was the last time you ever heard someone lambasting Cora or Batali?). Flay might have a large following, but nowhere near the hagiography created by followers of Brown or Morimoto–and that's a good thing. It's quite amusing to see otherwise-syrupy foodies mutter “douche” and “jerk” when thinking about Flay, as the comments here will inevitably show.
5. Bobby Flay will help you during a car crash
Hopefully, you don't have to be January Jones–just saying!
Bobby Flay will appear at Williams-Sonoma, South Coast Plaza, 3333 S.
Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 751-1166; www.bobbyflay.com. Fri., Oct.