Bobby Flay's Most Embarrassing On-Screen Moments

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay is a seasoned restaurateur and a fixture on the Food Network, having starred in numerous long-running shows and specials. He's also written a number of cookbooks and can reportedly command up to $100,000 for a single appearance. Having been handsomely rewarded for his success, the suave kitchen star is worth a cool $30 million, according to Money, Inc. And on top of all that, he's romanced, dated, and married his fair share of gorgeous, equally famous women.

But Bobby Flay's career has not been without its messy moments, particularly those that have gone down while cameras were rolling. Humiliation has often come in the form of his most notable Food Network competition show, "Beat Bobby Flay," where many contestants have, in fact, risen to the occasion and wiped the floor with him, cooking circles around Bobby Flay. Other on-screen embarrassments have been served to Flay as result of his notorious diva-like attitude, which has often rubbed others the wrong way and prompted them to strike back. It makes for great TV. In fact, it can be argued, seeing Bobby Flay squirm with discomfort can be more entertaining than watching him prepare a meal. What are some of the biggest on-screen indignities Bobby Flay has suffered? Read on.

That time Bobby Flay's on-air "joke" really backfired

Whether or not this infamous on-air incident was a joke is still undecided, but there's no question that, either way, it didn't land. In 2017, Flay dramatically ended a segment on the Food Network show "Iron Chef Showdown" by tearing open his chef's coat to reveal a t-shirt emblazoned with the message: This My Last Iron Chef Battle Ever. Apparently, it was news to everyone, including producers, who were understandably confused and frantic. Flay's move, Vanity Fair reported, was basically a real-time tantrum Flay was throwing due to growing tension between himself and the network. And because the taping was live as opposed to pre-taped, Flay had known it would probably have to air.

Whatever the reason, it didn't take long for Bobby Flay to walk the bold statement back. Speaking to People, he claimed the whole thing was simply him "having a little fun." Interestingly, he didn't deny it was done out of frustration, blaming the physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion of filming these types of competitions shows. However, he also assured everyone he would not be leaving the network, appearing whenever his "schedule would allow." As for the live, on-air stunt, he admitted, it "was probably not the best decision." We'd have to imagine the Food Network, who had to foot an expensive bill for the bit to be blacked out during its airing, probably agreed.

When a cook without formal training beat him with homemade chicken soup

As mentioned, Bobby Flay has been out-cooked on his own show a number of times, but one of his most mortifying losses has to be over a simple bowl of soup. In a memorable 2021 "Beat Bobby Flay" showdown, a former Miss Delaware USA, Jennifer Behm-Lazzarini, faced off against Flay. The challenge: who could whip up a better bowl of soup. Jennifer, who co-owned a local restaurant with her husband but never had formal training as a cook, opted for chicken noodle soup. Bobby Flay, for his part, decided to make one that was Mexican tortilla-style.

It was a dish — and a contest — that a seasoned chef like Bobby Flay should have won easily. Instead, Jennifer was the judges' pick. Even Bobby Flay had to concede hers was superior. "It looks like a good cold night soup," he said of her winning bowl. Jennifer was ecstatic at having gotten the better of the show's top star. Boasting that she "took out Bobby Flay," she noted she was also, "totally numb and in shock." Adding insult to injury, judge Nicole Ari Parker compared the failed attempt to Flay's divorce record, joking it was "like his last three marriages."

That time Bobby Flay admitted he can't even bake

When he was a child, Bobby Flay asked for an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas, he told Willie Geist on a 2018 episode of "Sunday Today." Perhaps he didn't use it enough because the one thing that the world-renowned chef still says he can't pull off — sweets. Those going up against him would be wise to keep this in mind. Chef Anne Burrell once defeated Flay by proposing a cheesecake challenge. A smart strategy, one Reddit commenter speculated, because she knew "Bobby sucks at desserts." Another chef, his close pal and frequent collaborator Giada De Laurentiis, has backed up this claim saying it's one of Flay's two major weaknesses, the other being pasta (more on that later).

This has never been made clearer than a 2006 episode of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay", which Flay has admitted was one of his biggest on-screen ass-kickings. The challenge: to bake an entire wedding cake from scratch. His opponent: Brooklyn-based pastry chef Michelle Doll. Flay didn't stand a chance. Next to her winning creation, his was "very uneven." His Achilles heel, he acknowledged, is "anything with butter, flour, sugar, and eggs. I'm the most impatient pastry chef ever."

Gordon Ramsay once called him a diva

Bobby Flay wasn't even in the studio during one of his biggest televised takedowns, which occurred during a 2018 episode of James Corden's "Late Late Show." James was facing off against Chef Gordon Ramsay in the show's signature gross-out, truth-or-dare-style game: Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts, when Gordon was given the choice between having to sample a bowl of stomach-churning salmon ice cream or rate the following celebrity chefs from best to worst: Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, and Jaimie Oliver. Rejecting the ice cream, Ramsay quickly and easily named "Bobby f****** Flay" the worst, causing Corden and the audience to erupt with laughter.

As if that weren't embarrassing enough for Bobby Flay, Ramsay went on to explain the reason. "Shall I tell you why? For the last five years, we've been trying to do this cook-off together in Vegas for charity," Ramsay dished, not only to James Corden but to the millions of viewers watching at home. "And he won't sign the f****** contract." Turning to face the camera, Ramsay then pointed and commanded: "Bobby, sign the contract, you limp d***." To date, it appears that Bobby Flay still hasn't complied and the two prickly chefs have yet to battle it out.

When Masaharu Morimoto said Bobby Flay wasn't a chef

One of Bobby Flay's biggest professional insults came from one of the culinary world's most revered talents: chef Masaharu Morimoto, the former executive chef of New York's acclaimed Japanese restaurant Nobu and one of the stars of the Food Network show "Iron Chef." But that didn't matter to Bobby Flay during a 2000 episode of "Iron Chef America," where a confrontation between Bobby Flay and Masaharu Morimoto boiled over completely.

The episode, entitled "New York Battle," had the two men fighting out over dishes of rock crab, according to Variety, but before a winner could officially be declared, Bobby Flay took it upon himself to claim the victory. While prematurely bragging about his so-called win, he also jumped on top of his cutting board. To those who don't know, the cutting board, in Japanese culture, is considered sacred. It was an insult Mashahura Morimoto found so offensive, he could not hold back. "Bobby Flay," he angrily told the cameras, "is not a chef." In addition to that public blow to Bobby Flay's ego, an even bigger one quickly followed: it was Masahura Morimoto, not Bobby Flay, who was ultimately declared the winner of the challenge.

That time a contestant made a pass at him

Bobby Flay has a reputation as a ladies man, especially if those ladies are as high profile as him. He was married to "Law & Order: SVU" star Stephanie March from 2005 to 2015. One of the alleged reasons for their split: Stephanie accused Flay of cheating on her with actress January Jones. After they divorced, he was then linked to Broadway star Helene York. All fine and good when he's off-camera, but when he's working, you'd think Bobby Flay would prefer to keep things professional. He didn't stand a chance during a 2013 episode of the "Worst Cooks in America," when a flirtatious contestant got too close for comfort. 

Turns out, Carla Johnson of Long Beach, California had been harboring a long-time crush on Flay and, once in the same room, couldn't control herself, blowing kisses, growling at him, and even making "kitty-paw" gestures in his direction. "This woman," declared the LA Times, "is a mess." Seemingly unsure of how to react, Flay allowed her a hug. As if that weren't embarrassing enough, Carla then went on another Food Network show, "Worst Bakers in America," and continued declaring her feelings for Flay in hope that he'd surprise her with an appearance. Holding up a framed photo of him while filming, she later said, "You know I missed my Bobby Flay. I kept hoping he was going to pop and say, 'Carla, here I am, baby boo. I ain't married.'"

When Giada De Laurentiis accused him of stealing from her

Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis are frequent collaborators and supposed close friends. It's a friendship ripe with plenty of ribbing. During a 2013 on-screen conversation with The New York Times, De Laurentiis recounted an instance when Flay took one of her family's cooking tips and tried to pass it off as his own. During a segment on the "Rachael Ray Show," De Laurentiis showed the audience a culinary secret she learned from her grandfather: toss your pasta with fresh parmesan cheese before tossing it with the sauce because it helps the sauce stick better to the pasta.

Not long after, De Laurentiis said that she was watching Flay appear on the "Today" when, "all of a sudden," she explained, "he gives this great tip to Al Roker." His tip ... her grandfather's exact advice about tossing pasta with parmesan cheese before the sauce. Unable to deny it, a mortified Bobby Flay put his hand to his face and closed his eyes in humiliation. "It's a true story," he admitted. Perhaps it was payback for a comment made earlier in the joint interview. When asked what his first impression of De Laurentiis was when he saw her on tape, Flay replied, "Man, she has a lot of teeth." 

When a montage of his awkward years was highlighted on TV

As mentioned, Bobby Flay is somewhat of a playboy. Which is why it was probably more embarrassing for him than anyone else when he was exposed as a pretty geeky-looking kid. Sure, everyone has their awkward years but according to the montage played on a 2018 episode of "Sunday Today" with Willie Geist, Flay's lasted for a while. A series of old photos and videos from Bobby Flay's childhood, teen years, and early twenties showed a freckled, gangly guy with a goofy smile — a far cry from the dashing, polished character Bobby Flay is today.

Luckily for Bobby Flay, Joe Allen, owner of his own restaurant in New York City where Flay was working as a busboy early on in his career, saw potential in him and paid for Flay to attend the French Culinary Institute. The gesture paved the way for Flay's successful journey to becoming a chef and restaurateur. As for what changed in his appearance that eventually made him so appealing to a TV audience, it seems Flay lost his baby fat, got a much-needed haircut, and worked on his charm. By 2017, People had even named him one of its Sexiest Chefs in America, lustily claiming that the "dazzling" chef "only gets more magnetic with age."

The time a reporter asked him about a terrible review in an interview

For chefs at Bobby Flay's level, few things are more important than a glowing New York Times review. The esteemed paper is widely acknowledged to be the authority on the quality of a restaurant's food, decor, and service as well as the chef's overall capabilities in running it. So you can imagine Bobby Flay's delight when one of his eateries, Mesa Grill, earned two stars from them. Shockingly, in 2008, one of them was revoked, the critic publicly questioning if Flay "had taken his eye off Mesa Grill" while noting the eatery "only flickers with the excitement" it had when it opened. 

It was a slight that few people forgot. Years later, during a 2014 interview with "CBS This Morning," host Tracy Smith asked him, "Do you remember it clearly?" Flay snapped back. "Do I remember it? Oh yeah." Pressed to recall the horrifying moment, Flay continued. "I was in a taxi when I found out [the reviewer] was taking a star from me." He paused to find the words before continuing. "It was a long day. I got really drunk that night." Eventually, the segment explained, he was forced to close Mesa Grill as well as his other restaurant, Bolo, for financial reasons. Fortunately for Flay, the reception to his next restaurant, Gato, was met with a much warmer reception when it opened in 2014.

When Bobby Flay lost twice ... to the same chef

What better way to wrap up this list than with more of Bobby Flay's on-screen losses on one of his own Food Network shows? By now it should be clear that Flay doesn't always come out on top when it comes to his cooking show competitions, but surely nothing is as humiliating as losing more than once to the same person. But that's exactly what's happened when he's gone up against his fellow star on the network, chef Alex Guarnaschelli.

Alex has publicly admitted her first impression of him was not positive. "I was like, 'I don't like that guy," she told People, adding "that guy thinks he's so cool with his grill and spatula." Given that, her victories over him probably tasted pretty sweet. One occurred in 2016, when she topped Bobby Flay with her lobster Newburg. Per Eonline, she's also come out the winner in not one, but two blind taste tests against the star of the show. According to Alex, Bobby Flay hasn't been that bad of a sore loser. Despite his losses, she says Flay has been generous with sharing advice and the two have actually become good friends. Says Alex: "He's amazing!"