The 2 Celebrity Chefs Who Constantly Inspire Bobby Flay

Many of our favorite celebrity chefs wouldn't be where they are today without inspiration and influence from fellow culinary figures. "Domestic Goddess" Nigella Lawson is a huge fan of Italian food writer and cook Anna Del Conte, whereas Gordon Ramsay says that mentorship from Marco Pierre White and Joël Robuchon has had a huge impact on his restaurant career. Food Network's Bobby Flay, meanwhile, sings the praises Julia Child and Ina Garten.

Flay first met the legendary Julia Child back in the 1980s, when he was a student at The French Culinary Institute of America. The late chef, author, and TV personality continues to influence Flay's culinary style today. As Flay revealed in an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, his newest restaurant, the Parisian-inspired Brasserie B at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, has several menu items reminiscent of Child's classic French cooking style. 

As for the Barefoot Contessa, Flay has long been a devotee. The pair have appeared on camera together several times, including for occasions like  Thanksgiving, where they cooked smoked turkey and potato gratin together. During the pandemic, Flay used recipes like her roast chicken (the simplest dish in the world to cook, according to Garten) as inspiration for his home cooking. He's both a friend and a fan, and doesn't take for granted how unique and iconic Garten is. "I love her so much," he told Tasting Table. "There's only one Ina."

Bobby Flay's Dover sole dish pays homage to Julia Child

Bobby Flay is famous for putting his own spin on classic dishes, often ramping up the heat with ingredients like mango salsa or piqiullo peppers, which he always has on hand. Still, the chef's culinary training means all his recipes are rooted in classical French techniques. It's not surprising that he sees a muse in Julia Child, who is credited with bringing French cooking to a wider American audience in the 1960s. Flay has stated that he draws inspiration from her both as a cook and as a TV presenter.

Flay is all about a French influence for Brasserie B, and some of the country's most famous dishes appear on the menu: frisée aux lardons with Roquefort; duck confit; haricots verts; and pomme purée. Flay says the restaurant's onion soup with Gruyère gratin has the feel of a Julia Child recipe, though his version uses Vidalia onions, whereas she believed that plain yellow onions are the ones you need for the best French onion soup.

One dish on Brasserie B's menu was especially close to Child's heart. Sole meunière was the dish that ignited her passion for French cuisine. Flay, who fondly remembers the moment as recreated in the biopic "Julie and Julia," has put the classic fish dish on his menu in the form of Dover sole with lemon sauce.

Bobby Flay says he would lose to Ina Garten in a cooking contest

Countless fans love Ina Garten's accessible approach to creating simple yet deeply flavorful dishes, and Bobby Flay is no exception. However, despite her reputation as an approachable and relaxed lady, Flay wouldn't feel confident competing against her on "Beat Bobby Flay." "I would get killed," he admitted to Tasting Table, going on to describe Garten as "the queen."

Even other members of Flay's family admire the Barefoot Contessa. The chef recalls how his daughter Sophie, who starred with her father on the show "Bobby And Sophie On The Coast," cooked him a Father's Day brunch when she was just a child. And whose cookbook did the little girl turn to in order to impress her dad? One of Garten's, of course.

Perhaps the sweetest thing is that the feeling is entirely mutual — Garten is just as much a fan of Flay as he is of her. Garten has described him as "amazing" (via Facebook), and told Food Network, "He blows me away. He has restaurants all over the world, cookbooks, television shows [...] and he does them all well." While the two have rather different styles in terms of cooking and TV presenting, that is clearly no barrier to a friendship that's full of respect and admiration.

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