Bobby Flay thought his abrupt departure from “Iron Chef Showdown” — which he announced unexpectedly during filming — would make for "good TV," but Food Network executives weren't "thrilled” about the surprise, Flay admitted.
Flay confirmed the news on Saturday at South Beach Food & Wine Festival, telling People he pulled the stunt during the filming of an "Iron Chef Showdown" episode over the summer. Reports that Flay had unexpectedly quit the series began circulating soon afterward, but Flay had dismissed his actions as a joke at the time.
This weekend, however, Flay recalled whipping off his chef’s coat 20 minutes into filming to reveal a shirt that stated “THIS IS MY LAST IRON CHEF BATTLE EVER.”
“I wanted everyone to know that this is my last Iron Chef battle,” Flay said. “And my objective, though it was probably not the best idea, was that that’s what would be filmed. When the camera’s on you, that’s what the viewer would see. So I did it.”
Food Network showrunners didn’t find the surprise that amusing.
“The network was not thrilled,” the 53-year-old chef said. “I thought it would be good TV. They didn’t think of it that way, and that’s obviously their prerogative.”
Flay said he didn’t tell anyone about his decision to leave and said Food Network has been “incredibly supportive” throughout his career.
Flay explained that he decided to quit the show after competing in more than 100 “Iron Chef” battles because he was exhausted.
“[The competitions] are exhausting physically but, even more so, they are exhausting emotionally,” Flay said.
“When I do a season, I do between six and eight [battles] in a week and it crushes me because it’s 60 minutes of pure energy, creativity and execution,” he added. “And so at some point I was like, ‘I’ve been doing this for a long time and I want to go out on a high note.’”
Despite the mishap, Flay insisted he and the network are still on good terms. Flay has been working with Food Network since 1996 and hosted more than a dozen shows. Whether he would ultimately return to the competition show in the future, the chef said he would “consider it.”
“I think that ‘Iron Chef’ is a great place for new and younger people to come on and start taking the reins,” he said. “How many times do you want to watch Bobby Flay do Iron Chef?”
As for fans hoping to see Flay’s epic quitting moment, he said they’re out of luck. The network ultimately blacked out the moment, which, according to Flay, is a “really expensive thing to do.”