By Martie Duncan, Contributor

Iron Chef Bobby Flay was one of the mentors on Season 8 of Food Network Star. I wasn’t on his team but over the course of the competition, I watched him carefully. After all, he’s an Iron Chef. Bobby is a true professional and that sometimes reads as tough and rigid. He’s anything but that. Underneath that tough, crunch-ified exterior is a heart of gold, whether Bobby would admit to it or not. Behind the grill or behind the camera as producer, this guy is the real deal. When he saw me at the Burger Bash during South Beach Wine & Food Festival 2013, he came out from the serving line to give me a hug and chat for a bit. Here’s what he said:

Photo Credit: Carly Otness/

Photo Credit: Carly Otness/

Bobby Flay: What’s up with you? How are things going? Are you working? What about a TV show? What’s next?

Martie Duncan: All good. I’m here getting the scoop on the festival for this weekend. I have some other things in work. Do you have time for an interview?

BF: Not really but how about now? What do you want to know? Let’s do this right now.

MD: Fill me in. I know you’ve got this season of Worst Cooks airing now. The promos are funny.

BF: It is funny. You have to watch this train wreck because you cannot believe these cooks are this bad in the kitchen but they are. It’s incredible. We have the perfect cast. This type of show is only interesting if the casting is right and this time we really got it right.

MD: You’ve just finished taping the new season of Food Network Star. Tell me about that.

BF: You know I cannot tell you about that yet but it will be very different from your season... that I can tell you.

MD: What else can we expect to see from you on TV this year? What about that Dinner Party show?

BF: Five episodes and done. I just don’t think it was interesting. We’re not doing it again. But I am doing a new version of Throwdown. I’m pumped about that. Details aren’t out yet but it’s going to be good. People really liked that show and want to see more; this is a new spin on it.

MD: What else? Bobby’s Burger Palace… when can I get one of these in my hometown?

BF: We are expanding. We are up to fourteen locations in eight states. Maryland is as far South as we’ve made it but we’ll get down there soon.

MD: I can hook you up… we need an Iron Chef burger joint in our city. It’s quite the food destination. You know Chef Frank Stitt and Chris Hastings have really put us on the map. You remember Chef Hastings from Iron Chef?

BF: Yes.

MD: What about the competition tonight? You rarely lose at anything. How have you lost this for six straight years? What is your strategy this time?

BF: I know. Six years. I hope this is lucky number seven. I’m pulling out everything I’ve got to beat Symon this year. We have a good burger. What did you think?

MD: You have my vote, Chef.

Photo Credit: Carly Otness/

Photo Credit: Carly Otness/

With that, he was swept into a huge crowd of people. I did see him with his trophy after the win and he was just about giddy. That says a lot about how important this win was to him because Bobby doesn’t do giddy. I saw him again the following day at his demonstration at the Whole Foods Grand Tasting event where he saw me in the crowd and gave me a shout out from the stage. I was humbled and grateful for his comments. His demo was funny and really engaging. He had the crowd eating out of his hand. I give him five stars and my award as celebrity of the weekend. Bobby owned South Beach this year.

For more information about Bobby, his restaurants, books, shows and what he’s up to visit his website: or follow him on Twitter: @bflay

Follow me @MartieParty on Twitter or Martie Knows Parties on Facebook.