By any standard, chef and restaurateur Bobby Flay is having a very good year. He premiered a new show, "Grill It!" on the Food Network, where he's already seen on "Boy Meets Grill," (for which he was nominated for a Daytime Emmy), "Throwdown! with Bobby Flay," and "Iron Chef America." He opened a new restaurant, Bobby's Burger Palace; added judging duties on "The Next Food Network Star" to his already crowded TV schedule; and saw the book version of "Grill It!" become a New York Times best-seller.
Add to this his marriage to the beautiful former "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" cast member Stephanie March, and it's clear that Iron Chef Flay is living the dream. So it's all the more surprising to learn that the master chef was kicked out of high school, and at one point in his life seemed barely headed for employment, much less superstardom.
We spoke with Flay about his shows, his success and the surprising direction his life took.
Bankrate: You were permanently suspended from your high school. Were you a troublemaker?
Bobby Flay: I wouldn't say I was a troublemaker. I probably hung out with not the greatest crowd in the world, but basically, from a school standpoint, I just didn't have any interest in going home and studying for three hours a night and doing my homework. I wasn't a good high school student.
Bankrate: Do you think people who knew you back then are shocked to see what a success you've become?
Bobby Flay: I don't know. I'm sure some people are. I was always interested in doing something. I just didn't know what it was gonna be.
Bankrate: How did your love of food and cooking develop?
Bobby Flay: I was always interested in food. I just didn't really know it. When I was growing up, there was very little food culture in this country, and it's really changed a lot. When I started cooking professionally, when I was 17, I realized then that it was something I always wanted to be involved in.
Bankrate: What was the pivotal moment for you?
Bobby Flay: Laying in my bed one morning before I went to work, thinking to myself, this is something I'm really looking forward to doing today, which hadn't happened prior. I had been working for about four or five months when I realized that this was something I actually liked doing, rather than something I had to do.
Bankrate: Was there a specific aspect of the job at the time that especially excited you?
Bobby Flay: Yeah, the gratification of actually putting things together. Taking some ingredients, employing some techniques, and then creating a dish that somebody would actually want to eat. Now it might sound sort of trivial, but at that point it was a big accomplishment for me.