Manish Tyagi Reveals What It Was Like Cooking On Beat Bobby Flay - Exclusive

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Chef Bobby Flay isn't exactly a lightweight in the culinary industry. In fact, it's more accurate to say he's one of the absolute heavy hitters of the modern global food scene. This is a chef with multiple restaurants, a series of cooking shows, many cookbooks in print (per Amazon), his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and on the list goes. So when a chef beats Bobby Flay at his own game, that's one hefty accomplishment.

And when chef Manish Tyagi, of the Bay Area restaurant Aurum, appeared on "Beat Bobby Flay," that's exactly what he did: He beat Bobby Flay. The chef told Mashed all about it during an exclusive interview

"When you have an opponent like Bobby Flay, who is a master of that [TV show] timeframe because he's been doing, I guess, 27 seasons by now, you can't beat him in that timeframe. You will figure out a different approach or make things in a totally different way, the way I did for saag paneer, so that he completely gets shocked. He [was] saying: 'Is what I am cooking Indian?' That was his words: "Is what I'm cooking Indian or he's cooking Indian?'"

"My idea was to make my food [on the show] in a deconstructed way where you can see all the ingredients being used in that dish with the eye before even eating it," Tyagi explained. "The idea was very simple, and it was to get more exposure and more audience for my restaurant during that time."

The challenges of cooking on camera on 'Beat Bobby Flay'

Asked whether there were challenges to cooking on camera while on "Beat Bobby Flay," chef Manish Tyagi heaved a heavy sigh and said, "Oh, a lot. A lot." 

"Cooking on camera is more like you are in a boxing ring and you're just actually controlling your nerves," he explained. "There is no time for creativity. Or there are kinds of creativity, but still, you have to think everything fits in that timeframe. ... In front of a camera, you have to be quick in terms of what you want to do and very, very confident [in] what you're doing. If you are in two minds, you are going to lose."

So how did the chef stay focused and yet creative enough to successfully beat out Bobby Flay's cooking? Beyond his skill and experience, of course, he also found some new love for some classic ingredients. 

"A surprise was shrimp. I've been using shrimps whole my career, but never felt the value of using the head of the shrimp and the tail, actually. That was a learning for me," he said. Another lesson Tyagi took with him was watching the clock: "We normally do that, but never had this sword hanging on your head." He explained at his own restaurant, there's some room for delays and guests usually have patience for a bit of slowness on a dish. "But at the show, if you're late, if you're not able to finish your dish, you're done," Tyagi said.

Be sure to drop by Aurum restaurant to experience chef Manish Tyagi's cuisine if you're ever in the Los Altos, California area.