How Food Network Star Bobby Flay Angered His Opponent Masaharu Morimoto on ‘Iron Chef’

Chef Bobby Flay is a staple on Food Network. Rising to fame in the late 90s, Flay became a worthy opponent on the popular Iron Chef franchise. often being the competitor to beat. Yet in one particular cook-off, the culinary guru made a few moves that didn’t sit well with an opponent.

Chef Bobby Flay smiles in front of a counter of food prep
Chef Bobby Flay | Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

‘Iron Chef New York Battle’ got tempers heated

Iron Chef became a ratings boon for Food Network, where viewers watched chefs create four to five dishes within one hour using a secret ingredient. Competitors have included Michael Symon, Cat Cora, and Wolfgang Puck. Flay and Morimoto were a dream matchup.

Flay is known for his southwestern cuisine and his competitive spirit. In 2000, the Boy Meets Grill star was up against sushi master Masaharu Morimoto in a highly-promoted “Japan vs. America” theme held in New York City.

Both chefs had a stake (pardon the pun) in the Big Apple. Morimoto’s famed Nobu restaurant is a sushi legend in NYC, and Flay considered Manhattan’s Mesa Grill his restaurant anchor.

Sparks flew – almost literally – when Flay was zapped with electric shocks due to faulty wiring on the set. But the temperature in the kitchen quickly rose after Flay won the first round.

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Bobby Flay offended Masaharu Morimoto

After being awarded Round 1, Flay decided to celebrate by jumping on his cutting board and raising his fists in the air. Leading the crowd with a “Raise the roof, yo, raise the roof” chant, the Brunch @ Bobby’s star really cheesed off his opponent.

“He’s not a chef,” Morimoto said in response to Flay’s antics, according to the New York Times. “‘After finishing, he stood up on the cutting board. That’s not right. He stood on the cutting board. Cutting boards and knives are sacred to us.” 

Apparently, Flay didn’t see his behavior as an issue and felt Morimoto was overreacting.

“It was like I killed his mother,” he said in 2001. “It was no big deal. I do worse at Knicks games.”

Despite his victory in the first round, Morimoto won the competition.

Bobby Flay quit ‘Iron Chef’ on the air

While filming the show in the summer of 2017, Flay stirred up some more controversy on Iron Chef. During the live taping, the culinary king took off his apron in the middle of the competition to display a T-shirt that read: “THIS IS MY LAST IRON CHEF BATTLE EVER.”

Breaking the news in the unorthodox fashion didn’t sit well with network execs, where rumors swirled that Flay was pulling a publicity stunt. The Food Network star later released a statement to clarify his actions.

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“This past summer when I was in production on Iron Chef Showdown, I wore a T-shirt to have a little fun during my last battle this season,” he said, according to Vanity Fair. “In hindsight, it was probably not the best decision because it’s just creating confusion. Food Network has been part of my family for over 20 years and will absolutely continue to be, and though there is a talented bench of Iron Chefs to tap, if I were asked, I’d be excited to return to Kitchen Stadium, whenever my schedule allows.”