Master of the grill Bobby Flay begins a fifth season leading the selection committee on The Next Food Network Star this Sunday, June 7th, ultimately launching one lucky man or woman into food and television stardom. The chef, restaurateur, award-winning cookbook writer, and Iron Chef star reveals a few of his favorite things, as well as some of his least.
Best secret ingredient: It varies, but I think my favorite secret ingredient for Iron Chef was sea urchin. Cool ingredient and it has a fantastic flavor to it. There are so many different things you can do with it.
Worst ingredient: Lentils. They’re just not my flavor. They’re a little too earthy for the food I usually cook with.
Best cooking trick: I do something called the “Three-Step Ribs,” because we only have 60 minutes total [on Iron Chef], so only about 50 minutes of it is available for cooking because you’re plating that last ten minutes. So when I want to cook something like ribs, I first boil the ribs, and then I fry them, and then I braise them. [These steps] are a quick tenderizer.
Favorite way to season a steak: My steak-rub of course. I have a steakhouse in Atlantic City and we spice-rub every single steak. It’s basically a blend of ground red chilies, mustard, cumin, and some black pepper. I just think that spice rubs work well for steak in general. The one thing they do is add flavor but they also add great texture, they help create a crust on the outside of the steak.
Biggest cooking faux-pas: Anything that goes in an ice cream machine that’s not sweet.
Ideal contestant quality on TNFNS: There are three things: they need to be able to cook with authority, they need to be a good teacher, and then, if they have the first two, they need to be entertaining. Those three are the recipe for success.
Favorite city to eat in: So many good ones. Obviously New York is my city, it’s where I live. I think it’s really tough to get better food than in New York. I’ve traveled domestically and there is so much wonderful food out there. When I think of great food I think of San Antonio for great Mexican food, and New Mexico for red and green chilies, and great enchiladas. I love the Pacific Northwest—Seattle—for the incredible shellfish and all the wild halibut and salmon. And I love the South—Georgia, Kentucky, and Charleston, South Carolina. I love the fried chicken and collard greens. I could go on and on. My mouth waters thinking about all these great places in America. When people ask me where the best food is in the world, I tell people it’s here.
Dream person to cook for: Mohammad Ali. I’m a huge fan. I’ve never actually met him but I grew up watching him become the heavyweight champion of the world. He also had to deal with lot so political issues, the war–what a road he had. If I could get to his kitchen, he wouldn’t have to do anything. I’d just want to hear his stories and I would do all the cooking.
Season 5 of The Next Food Network Star premieres Sunday, June 7 at 9 PM EST. Catch up on full episodes from season 4 here.