Maybe it was the Filet Mignon Louisiana, with béarnaise sauce and crawfish. Could have been a Crunchburger, or hot potato chips with blue cheese sauce. Perhaps it was a transcendent cactus pear margarita that you still talk about more than a decade later. If food and drink are a passion, chances are you’ve shared it, on some level, with Bobby Flay.
Now, the man behind Bar Americain, Mesa Grill, Bobby Flay Steak and the ode to hamburgerology that is Bobby’s Burger Palace may not have a Hamptons restaurant in his future. But he is excited to immerse himself in the East End culinary scene this summer. “I love being part of anything food/wine related in the Hamptons,” says Flay, who is certainly not alone in that sentiment. And as host of Dan’s Taste of Two Forks on July 13, he’ll get to share that love.
A one-night-only showcase of top restaurants, wineries, and local purveyors, Dan’s Taste of Two Forks draws foodies from all quarters. A gastronomic gathering where chefs get to interact with their fans and one another, it’s an event where “everyone’s in a great mood,” Flay offers, “and we get to eat some awesome cuisine made with local, fresh East End ingredients.”
Local. It’s a term easily invoked; yet it has genuine meaning for Flay. Here in the Hamptons, surrounded by the farms and vineyards that stretch across the land, by the oceans and bays, Flay embraces a true locavore outlook. In honor of Dan’s Taste of Two Forks, if he had two forks right now he’d elect to stick them in “some grilled wild striped bass from Montauk. I eat it all summer.” He shops local farm stands and markets for fresh ingredients, produce and seafood to cook in his Amagansett kitchen. Wait—make that kitchens.
Flay and his wife, actress Stephanie March, built a home in Amagansett a few years ago, an escape from the hustle and bustle of the world like so many people here. Flay could have chosen any location, but “Stephanie only wanted to live in Amagansett, so it made it easy for me to decide where to build!” he reveals. Befitting the chef who 10 years ago was the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef of the Year honoree and now boasts restaurants from the Bahamas to Las Vegas, the home has two kitchens; one indoors and one outside that has a pizza oven.
“I truly appreciate having a home on the East End,” he admits. It’s not just because of those kitchens, although when he’s not taking in some polo or playing golf, other of Flay’s favorite things to do in the Hamptons do tend toward the food-centric—the chance to “eat steamers and soft-serve ice cream at Bostwick’s, grill at my house, drink rosé…a lot of it!”
In all respects, the East End is a haven for Flay. “In many ways, it’s enhanced my life in a big way,” he adds. “A few days out here and it gives me a renewed energy for the next project I need to tackle.”
And those projects are many. One day it could be lending a hand to international diplomacy by preparing the menu—including lobster tamales, Porterhouse steak and cherry pie—like when President Obama recently dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Rancho Mirage, California. Another day it’s a stop on the book tour for Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction, or filming one of his Food Network programs.
Those hit shows have introduced millions to new cuisines and new techniques. They’ve helped shape the very idea of the celebrity chef. And those like Throwdown, Food Network Star and Iron Chef America have fundamentally changed the way we think about cooking and chefs. This year, the inaugural GrillHampton event kicks off Dan’s Taste of Two Forks Weekend on July 12, pitting East End chefs from both the North and South Forks against NYC counterparts in a cooking competition for the ages. As much as we have become a society that embraces food and the art of its preparation, we have likewise evolved a Cooking Competition Culture.
Flay clearly understands our affection for these chef showdowns, and why we can’t seem to get enough. “We all have a little competitive fire in all of us,” Flay says. “It pushes great cooks and chefs to show us how unbelievably talented they are and ultimately…we get to eat it!”