I realize this statement might seem absurd at first, especially in a world that has Richard Simmons in it, but in the current television climate, can you think of someone more well known than him? I'm not sure if you can differentiate between reality TV stars and celebrity chefs, but they rule the landscape right now. Bravo and Food Network cash checks on personalities, not substance, but both of the networks are stronger than ever. On the top of that food chain, for quite some time now, has been Bobby Flay. He first became known as a young Iron Chef and all around cocky dickhead (I mean that lovingly), but he's owned both of those in a way that make him much more likable than his competitors. Much of that is based on the fact that in spite of all of the bravado that should really turn everyone off, he owns it in a way that most American's can relate.
We are no strangers to athletes talking shit, but when those athletes don't back it up it becomes a beating to listen to. Take Richard Sherman as the prime example. For years he talked shit and backed it up, but now that he's lost a step, he talks the same amount, but comes off as irrelevant. Bobby Flay has mastered the format of food competition, trash talking, and winning, which keeps him likable. I'm not sure if it's a calculated move or not, but Beat Bobby Flay pairs all of it perfectly, while keeping very low stakes. I don't care if he has to cook someone else's signature dish or not, he's been a professional chef since the 80's and has been an Iron Chef for well over a decade now. So while the stakes seem high, when you break it down, the people he goes against have no chance. If I challenged Michael Jordan to a trick shot contest with the one shot I've been practicing all of my life, I'm still going to lose because at the end of the day I'm challenging Jordan to something involving basketball. The same thing goes for Bobby Flay and the never ending string of dummies that think their Po' Boy can't be beat. Dream on amateurs.
That is what keeps him relevant, while he is no doubt turned into a terrific TV personality. On top of his success in television, he has written over a dozen cookbooks, has successful restaurants from coast to coast, and can even get away with giving fitness tips on his official website. Move over Richard Simmons, Bobby Flay is "Sweatin' to the Oldies" in a white chef jacket. The bottom line is that he is successful and is a winner and who doesn't like that...unless you are rooting against Tom Brady. The Food Network currently has 8 shows on air that feature Bobby Flay in some form or fashion, so it's not like we have had enough. I buy the competition every single time myself and I don't want this to come across as bashing Bobby Flay (a show that I'm sure will be on air by summer) when I am indeed a big fan of him. I learn from him every time I watch him and it's fun to see someone at the top of their game do great things.
What all of this adds up to, is that out of all of the Housewives and news anchors and talk show hosts, Bobby Flay is pulling an entire network, running successful businesses, and even managed to find a way into Entourage. He is only relevant in cooking, so what does it matter? You ask in my head. Niche broadcasting has been more prevalent than ever, so what does it matter. I know Andy Cohen, but have never seen a single show he's been on. The same hold true here, but Bobby Flay has been doing it for much, much longer. That's why I'm putting him at the top of the list here. Also, before you throw Oprah in my face, just know that she is on her own separate level and comparing anyone to her is a good way for her to find out and have you removed from this planet. We all bow to the thrown that is Oprah.
So who knows if he is the best, that is subjective anyway, but I can't think of anyone that is on camera more and means more to a network that Bobby Flay does to Food Network. That has to mean something and with his outside success and skins on the wall he can back it up. In terms of longevity and relevance, he's hard to top.
Stephen Balding is the founder of Cinema Soapbox. You can reach him at email@example.com