Here in Canada, we can’t get enough of Food Network star and chef Bobby Flay, whether we’re slapping one of his signature BBQ recipes on the grill, or creeping his cat’s Instagram account (we see you @nachoflay). But when we asked Chef Flay if he plans to open a restaurant north of the border, the American star was unequivocal: No. Not here, not now, not ever.
Thankfully it’s not because he doesn’t love Canada. In fact, Chef Flay is especially fond of Toronto, where he recently collaborated with long-time friend and former Iron Chef competitor Susur Lee. The culinary duo cooked up a special dinner at Lee’s restaurant Frings; the menu featured chorizo crepinette with apricot mostarda and braised octopus, where several lucky locals, including Drake, were in attendance.
Flay talked up the Toronto food scene while explaining why he’s not in a hurry to open a Canadian outpost: “In a town like Toronto, where there’s such a great culinary culture, I believe that the people of Toronto should be supporting the local chefs, and they do,” he said. Then he tempered his answer with a downright Canadian-sounding dose of humility: “Without mentioning names, there have been countless American chefs that have tried this town and they haven’t done very well. So I don’t think I’m better than them.”
Not even his pal Susur Lee could convince him. “But you know, Chef Bobby, I’ll tell you — your flavours would really suit in this town,” said Chef Lee. “Your big flavours!”
Still, the answer was — and is — no.
“When I roll out of my bed in New York, I can walk into my restaurant and cook,” he explained. “Even though Toronto is only an hour away, you still have to go the airport and get on a plane — it’s a whole event.”
Bobby Flay loves flying in and wowing Canadian diners, or cooking for them when they visit one of his US restaurants, but he doesn’t want to be anybody’s American fling. Falling in love with a Bobby Flay restaurant is a long-term affair, and that’s just how he likes it.
“You have to get people to buy in for a long period of time, not just once or twice,” he said, noting that his famed Mesa Grill ran 20 years before closing, and that three of his current restaurants have been open for more than ten years. “That’s what it takes to have success in the restaurant industry. It’s not a get rich quick proposal.”
It might not be the answer we want, but it’s an honest one. So in the mean time, we’ll be saving up for a trip to Flay’s Gato in New York City, and consoling ourselves with these awesome Bobby Flay recipes.
Can’t get enough Bobby? His new show Brunch at Bobby’s premieres Saturday, September 10 at 10 a.m. E/P. See the schedule here.