Meet the inimitable, talented and charming Bobby Flay, known for his frequent appearances on features such as the wildly popular Entourage and his variety of shows on Food Network. He’s one of the world’s most beloved and best-known chefs — a class act known for his winning smile and culinary savvy.
A savory success story
Flay’s first restaurant, Mesa Grill, opened in 1991 and Gael Greene, then renowned critic of New York magazine, awarded Mesa Grill the sought-after title of Best Restaurant in 1992. One year later, Flay was named the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef of the Year. 1993 was filled with success, including the opening of Flay’s Bolo Bar and Restaurant in New York City’s Flatiron District. The story continues with his second Mesa Grill opened in Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas in 2004, and another at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas in 2007. Flay has become an American institution with a host of marvelous restaurants including Bar Americain, Bobby Flay Steak, GATO and the wildly popular Bobby’s Burger Palace, which just opened its 17th location in Concourse B of Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.
He was an instant on-air success when Food Network brought him aboard in 1994. Viewers around the globe tuned in to see Iron Chef Bobby Flay in shows such as Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Brunch @ Bobby’s (on the Cooking Channel), the current Emmy Award-winning Bobby Flay’s BBQ Addiction and the exceptionally popular Beat Bobby Flay.
Flay’s latest venture: a win for ATL
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, the world’s busiest airport, just snagged the celebrity chef’s Bobby’s Burger Palace, which opened to great acclaim in October. Atlanta-based Concessions International and H & H Hospitality worked with Flay and his partner Laurence Kretchmer. “I wanted to partner with Concessions International because they were Food First operators,” says Flay.
Atlanta’s Bobby’s Burger Palace is the first of several other locations to be positioned in an airport. According to Flay, he chose the Georgia capital to launch first because “it doesn’t get any busier than Atlanta.”
“I think we were waiting for the right partners and we found them here,” says Flay. “I have to say that as a chef I started cooking professionally when I was 17; that was a very long time ago. Airport food has come a long way since then. I was always skeptical earlier in my career about opening in an airport, but things have really changed so much. So, I am thrilled to have been offered the opportunity to open in an airport like this, and to see my employees’ enthusiasm, not to just have a job but to be working in a place that they feel really proud to work in. They are inspired and have passion for learning how to do something and to further their career. It’s really great to see!”
Flay’s can-do attitude is contagious. “There’s no ‘meal period’. We start at 6 a.m. and go until 10 p.m. at night. If there’s a storm that rolls through here, which often happens, or a flight delay, we will stay open as needed to feed people and make their cocktails.”
He’s ready to raise the bar on airport dining. “We want this to be the best meal you’ve ever had, and we are at the price point where everybody can afford to eat here,” says Flay. Among the menu items are the Crunchburger ($6.95); Philly Burger ($8.75); milkshakes ($5.75), and fries ($3.50). It is signature Flay, and the airport eatery is already a smashing success just a few weeks in operation.
The backstory on Vegas and more
Questioned about his foray into Las Vegas, Flay replied, “Las Vegas decided they would not be able to live on gambling alone. They realized they needed better food and they started bringing in better chefs — chefs with names who could deliver a wonderful dining experience. Walk around Vegas and you will meet some of the best chefs, not just in America but also from around the world. It’s a great place for a first class restaurant.”
When asked about the source of his passion for cooking, he explained, “I needed a job; I dropped out of high school in the tenth grade and started working in a restaurant. I sort of fell into it. I didn’t know I could cook but after a while I realized that working with my hands and cooking was really gratifying for me and I went to culinary school after that.”
Flay became enamored with Southwestern cuisine working at Buds and Jams, where Chef Jonathan Waxman became a mentor. According to Flay, “My passion for Southwestern cuisine came from working for a phenomenal chef named Jonathan Waxman.”
Bobby Flay (born Robert William Flay) has opened a cadre of restaurants but at heart he says, “I’m a burger guy. When I hang out with chefs after work we aren’t going out for caviar; we want food that’s comforting. Some of my friends want to go eat fried chicken and some want barbeque; I always want a burger. When I was a kid a burger was always my go-to food. For me there’s a myriad of things that make a burger good and I want to make sure my employees know the fundamentals — the basics of cooking the perfect burger. When you dine at Bobby’s Burger Palace and look at the burger options, in some ways it’s like a tour around America on a burger. We use very simple and obvious ingredients that make sense; nothing is complicated.”
Chef, restauranteur, cookbook author, television star, Food Network star, Bobby Flay has mastered it all. He’s also an avid traveler and his favorite destination is Rome where he spent a glorious six weeks last summer. Bobby is incredibly philanthropic. In October he partnered with the Susan G. Komen Foundation giving 50 percent of the proceeds of his strawberry milkshakes to help in the fight against breast cancer. He lost his beloved mother to the disease last April.
Bravo Bobby Flay!!! We will be dining at Bobby’s Burger Palace on Concourse B at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and at all of your other delicious restaurants.