Bobby Flay is this year’s honoree at the James Beard Foundation’s annual Chefs and Champagne dinner in the Hamptons, which is honoring his lengthy culinary career and partnership with the James Beard House.
What does it mean to you to be honored at the Chefs and Champagne dinner?
Obviously I’ve been involved with the foundation for a long time … Julia Child basically had an idea when Beard passed away to keep the house alive and keep the tradition of promoting young American chefs, and I was part of that early push around 24 years ago. Great chefs don’t have to only be from Europe there are great chefs here, and I’m happy to be part of that tradition. There are a ton of other people they could have asked and I’m honored.
What has been the most challenging part of your illustrious career?
I think balancing the idea of television and cooking in my restaurant and keeping it up to quality. I think it’s easy for people to be on television and not cook anymore. There’s only one way to actually combat that, and it’s cooking in your restaurants which is something I’ve done all the time. Anyone who has worked with me over the past 25 years isn’t surprised by me being in the kitchen. There’s no match for it. It’s the only way to do it right.
You have so many restaurants! How has the process changed for you since opening up your first restaurant to opening your latest venture, Gato?
My last restaurant in New York opened 10 years ago, and the process since we opened the restaurant hasn’t changed. You sign the lease, and work hard to make the food better every day, there’s no other way to do it. The thing that has changed is the new media and how much media there is. It used to be the New York Times and New York Magazine critic, and now there are ton of food websites, and every customer is a critic. They can access Yelp reviews at a moment’s notice. As a good cook, you constantly need to be involved. I’ve been laser focused on this restaurant for the past year and a half.
Why did you decide to focus primarily on your restaurants?
Many well-known chefs are busy doing other things. I prioritize. My restaurant is number one, period. I only open as many restaurants as I can actually operate well, and everything else takes a backseat. I love my shows but they are not my number one priority and the Food Network knows this.
Since this takes place on Long Island, where are your favorite places to eat on Long Island?
I stick with the Hamptons. I go to this place called Bostwick’s in East Hampton. They have steamers and lobster rolls and it’s around the corner from my house. Also, Tutti Il Giorno in Sag Harbor, and I go to Nick and Toni’s in East Hampton.
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Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter@JoannaFantozzi