For the last 27+ years, Food Network and Bobby Flay have helped put each other on the map, growing the company into a viable cable network all on the back of good eats and chef personalities. But that relationship is coming to end. According to Variety, Food Network and Bobby Flay are calling it quits on each other and it looks like it is less than amicable with the two sides unable to agree on a contract relegation for the celebrity chef. It’s a shame and ends a fantastic run for both the network and Flay’s brand.
It’s unclear where exactly the negotiations between Food Network and Bobby Flay broke down, but it doesn’t take a contractual genius to know that it was probably all about the money. Flay was just finishing up his last contract, a three-year run that had re-upped after he had left Iron Chef. If the issue was the overall dollars, and it likely was, there might be a baseline we can point to in order to see what those figures could have looked like. Back in May, the frosted-tip legend Guy Fieri signed a whopping three-year/ $80 million dollar with Food Network making him the highest-paid celebrity on the channel. There is some chance Flay was seeking a similar number and the network completely balked at it.
Bobby Flay began his run on Food Network all the way back in 1995 when he started on The Main Ingredient With Bobby Flay. This was only a couple of years into the channel’s run and well before Bobby Flay was anything close to a household name. He had only two years before published his first cookbook Bobby Flay’s Bold American Food. But it was the start of a great relationship. Flay, along with other notable chefs like Mario Batali helped to grow the Food Network brand on the back of shows like Iron Chef which really ramped up the viewership.
Over the years, Bobby Flay hosted or guest-hosted 16 different shows for Food Network including others like Boy Meets Grill, BBQ with Bobby Flay, The Next Iron Chef, Worst Cooks in America, and of course, Chopped. These programs were staples for the network over the years, some of their most popular offerings, and Flay’s charisma combined with his talent made him a near-instant star.
According to multiple outfits, Food Network is who cut off this latest round of negotiations with Bobby Flay though neither side has commented on any sort of specifics. But it sure doesn’t look like these fences will be mended. If there is a huge gap in perceived value and worth for the celebrity and the channel, then this is likely the end of the road.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Bobby Flay in celebrity chef life off Food Network. The channel is, by far, the biggest in terms of its hold on the foodie crowd. But Bobby Flay’s fame is now big enough to easily carve out other massive opportunities elsewhere.