For This Celebrity Chef, One More Iron in the Fire

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

He's doing it all, that Bobby Flay. As of last week, Wikipedia already had added "radio show host" to the 44-year-old celeb chef's Professional Life synopsis, which includes a recurring role on Food Network's "Iron Chef America," his restaurants (seven) and cookbooks (eight, with his ninth due in April), television shows (seven to date) and a gig as occasional lifestyle correspondent for CBS's "The Early Show" and "Sunday Morning."

The rundown doesn't mention his line of bottled sauces, the grill-related accessories for Kohl's stores or his self-appointed job as food stylist for all of his books. Food Network devotees credit Flay with bringing chipotle peppers en adobo into American pantries.

His newest venture kicked off Thursday. "Bobby Flay Radio: Food, Sports and Life for Today's Guy" is a five-part series of two-hour weekly shows that airs on Sirius XM's guy-talk channels; Flay is responsible for the food content, while his wife, actress Stephanie March, opines about cultural matters (such as no sneakers on dates, fellas) and Flay's pal and sports consultant Larry K covers fields of play.

Assistant Food editor Bonnie S. Benwick spoke with Flay by phone shortly after his first foray. Excerpts:

Why radio?

I've always had fun doing other people's interviews on the air. Two months ago I called Sirius and asked, "Is there a spot for me?" They didn't want just a food show, so we're trying this approach. If it goes well, there may be more.

Day One: Work or fun?

It went so fast. I came prepared with topics. We talked about food trends, and I let folks know which food festivals I'll be at, because they always ask. I also talked about the economy. It's not dramatically affecting my restaurants yet. But nine Broadway shows closed on Monday. And my Bar Americain is on 52nd Street between Sixth and Seventh. It has to affect my business at some point.

Why the guy thing?

I wanted to provide basic information, and we have short attention spans.

We got lots of guys and girls calling, though. My mother-in-law called in, too. I'd mentioned that she wanted me to cook lobsters outdoors at Christmas, to keep her house from smelling like lobster. We were going to eat them inside, though . . . know what I'm saying?

And did you take a stand?

No way. I cooked them on a side burner of their grill. When she tells me to do something, I do it.

You must like to keep really, really busy.

Sleep is overrated. Seriously, it helps to be organized, and I definitely have an assistant to keep things straight. But the most important thing to me is my restaurants. I'm most comfortable when I'm in my whites, cooking with my staff.

There are some big-name chefs coming to D.C. for President-elect Obama's inauguration. Got plans?

I gave it a shot when he first got elected. I sent a letter to Michelle Obama's office, offering to cook an inaugural lunch -- and pay for it. They had it already wired, which was okay. I just wanted to be part of the history-making.

"Bobby Flay Radio" airs on Thursdays through February from 10 a.m. to noon on Sirius Stars Too Channel 108 and XM Channel 139. It will be replayed several times on the weekends.

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