How Anthony Bourdain Really Felt About Bobby Flay

Anthony Bourdain is rightly remembered for many things: books, television programs, his ability to be Anthony Bourdain. A footnote for the last part would include his purported disdain for the Food Network and all who were attached. Yet, he doesn't seem to have a strong opinion about Bobby Flay.

Yes, he had jokes about Flay. In a talk at the Academy of Music in 2016, which Delaware Online covered, Bourdain commented on how "'Beat Bobby Flay' sounds promising until you realize it's about cooking." Yet, the news piece also describes the event as "almost a stand-up comedy routine." Similarly, when he was dining in Vegas, Bourdain is set in an opulent dining room, prompting him to joke "Bobby Flay probably lives like this all the time" (per Eater).

However, Bourdain was usually nicer about Bobby Flay than most of his Food Network compatriots. When HuffPost told him that Bobby Flay had the Angry Bobby Flay Twitter account taken down, Bourdain didn't really skewer Flay. "That's so lame. I like Bobby — he's a decent guy — but I'm really sorry to hear that," he said. In a snippet captured by Observer: "In service to this new, groin-level dynamic, even poor, loyal, Bobby Flay was banished from cooking anywhere near as well as he actually could." Bourdain would make fun of Bobby Flay, but he clearly thought that Flay was a competent chef, though not one he held in any reverence.

Others weigh in

The other reason why it's difficult to pinpoint what Anthony Bourdain really thought of Bobby Flay was that the two didn't really know each other. After Bourdain died, Flay was asked in an interview with Today to talk about Bourdain. Flay politely but bluntly said they knew of each other but moved in very different circles. His last memory of really interacting with Bourdain was five years previously, when he saw Bourdain playing with his daughter in the pool. Flay seemed struck at how at peace Bourdain seemed. Conversation then turned to Bourdain's work, which Bobby Flay really liked.

The fact that the two never really engaged with each other is probably more due to a mismatch of personalities than an actual clash. In a forum on Ars Technica, a member going by deep_sky effectively captures the two: "I can also see why [Bourdain] would not like Bobby Flay, who comes off as an elitist yuppy ... in some of his shows, and Tony Bourdain is smoking profane kinda guy." The difference would also explain Bourdain's joke about Flay's eating habits (via Eater). One is very well-turned prep school and the other styled himself after Iggy Pop.