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10 Cities Leading the Conversation on Sustainable Eating

10 Cities Leading the Conversation on Sustainable Eating

As the need for sustainable food systems becomes more pressing, cities around the world are revolutionizing the way they grow, acquire, transport, and sell food. From community gardens and farm-to-table restaurants to reducing food loss and waste, new initiatives are making a difference both locally and globally. Citizens, organizations, and businesses in these cities are joining forces to make change possible and lead the way to a better food system.

Amsterdam

While Amsterdam has long been known as a sustainable food city, they’re tackling another component of their food system: transportation. Foodlogica is stepping in to provide e-tricycles to move local food from farms to shops and restaurants. The revolutionary program solves both environmental concerns and congestion issues in the city.

Austin

Austin’s Sustainable Food Center provides the community with a variety of ways to get involved in food solutions. Whether it’s growing their own food, meeting local farmers, or learning to cook seasonally and nutritiously, citizens can actively engage in creating a more sustainable food system.

Brussels

Building upon food programs like sustainable cafeterias and kitchen gardens, the city frequently puts on Taste Walks through Slow Food Brussels. These events spotlight local food and sustainable agriculture practices going on in the city. Many local restaurants are pledging their support by featuring more sustainable food and wine on their menus.

Calgary

A “city-led, community-owned initiative” Calgary EATS! has laid out a plan to become a more sustainable food city. By 2036, they want to increase consumption of local food to 30 percent, have 100 percent of the city’s food supply be a product of sustainable practices, and bring urban food production up to 5 percent. These targets were set based on feedback from Calgary citizens who saw food sustainability initiatives as some of the most important for their city.

Edinburgh

With the ambitious goal of becoming “the most sustainable food city in the UK”, Edinburgh has launched Edible Edinburgh, a plan focused on health and wellbeing, the environment, land use, and the economy. The plan recognizes that everyone in the community must be involved: citizens, families, organizations, and businesses have been called to action to provide feedback and help create a better food system for the city.

Newcastle

Last year, Food Newcastle launched its Food Charter, a plan to make the city more sustainable, healthy, and active in its food policy. The program encourages citizens to sign the charter and pledge to make a difference, big or small, in Newcastle’s food culture. The city is also striving to become the “World’s First Sustainable Fish City”; Newcastle University has signed a Sustainable Fish Pledge, declaring that they will only serve sustainable seafood. Newcastle is one of six cities in the UK chosen in the first round of “Sustainable Food Cities” to receive funding to attain these goals.

Oakland

Organizations like the Oakland Food Policy Council, the HOPE Collaborative, and City Slicker Farms are working to improve the food system in the city by tackling issues including urban farming, regional food hubs, and food security for its residents. Oakland is also working to enact the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Act to allow empty lots to be converted to long-term urban gardens.

Portland

Already a progressive city when it comes to their food system, Portland will soon create a one-of-a-kind experience for residents and visitors. The James Beard Public Market will create 45,000 square feet of vendor space selling fresh food, beverages, and flowers. The market will focus on sustainability, utilizing solar panels and green roofing, as well as a concentration on cutting down food waste. An upper level of the market will house cooking demonstrations and community education.

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City has been focused on food sustainability since 2009 when the Food Policy Task Force was created. Among its many goals are raising public awareness, increasing urban farming space, and encouraging citizens to eat locally. The city recently released its Sustainable Salt Lake Plan 2015, outlining goals for continued growth for the next year.

Seattle

Seattle has adopted a variety of policies and programs to improve the city’s food sustainability. From mandatory recyclable food containers to local food initiatives and zero waste programs, Seattle is known for its push for a better food system for all. In addition to providing community gardens, the city encourages residents to beautify their streets by growing food in planting strips along sidewalks.


The 10 Dishes That Made My Career: Bobby Flay

“Jay Z is the Emeril Lagasse of the rap world,” says Bobby Flay when asked to compare hip-hop’s mainstream takeover to the ascent of Food Network over the past quarter century. “I really want to be Jay Z, but I don’t want to say it myself.”

Despite Flay’s reluctance to crown himself the culinary Hov, the parallel is not so far-fetched: Both emerged in the ’90s with game-changing projects that catapulted their careers—Flay with Mesa Grill (1991), and Jay Z with Reasonable Doubt (1996). Both have maintained top billing in their fields through decades when food television and hip-hop spawned legions of copycats and pretenders to the throne (“with any success there’s excess,” is Flay’s diplomatic prognosis of the current cooking-show glut). And, perhaps most tellingly, both stars have a distinctively New York obsession with staying relevant on their home turf.

That last part may surprise some fans, who associate Flay more with Southwestern cooking and the backyard barbecues of Grillin’ & Chillin’ than his Upper East Side upbringing. But while he may not keep a Yankees fitted attached to his head, Flay has the city’s classics—JG Melon, Peter Luger, Grand Central Oyster Bar—coursing through his veins, and he cares about being at the center of the “everyday conversation of where to eat in New York.”

This month, Flay celebrated the two-year anniversary of Gato, his Mediterranean-inspired NoHo hot spot, and he doesn’t hesitate in calling it the greatest triumph of his career—above the James Beard Awards, the Emmys, the star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even the cameo on Entourage.

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me,” he explains. “It was almost like a prize fight: I was like, ‘I’m going to stand here and if you want to knock me down, great, and if not, I hope you really enjoy the food.'”

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me.”

Flay speaks with the type of haters-gonna-hate confidence that comes with more than two decades on television. He rose to prominence at at time when food stars—especially bad-boy types like Flay and Todd English—became tabloid targets, and an influx of stand-and-stir charlatans caused diners to turn a suspicious eye toward chefs who spent more time in a green room than a kitchen. But rather than turning him into a cash-checking nihilist, the bumps and bruises seem to have made him as aware as ever of his legacy. And so he has rules: He’ll only take TV gigs where he’s actually cooking (besides Next Food Network Star, where he’s mentoring cooks). He’ll never open “restaurants in other major cities [except for New York] unless it’s in a hotel or casino” for fear that he can’t be present enough (besides Bobby’s Burger Palace, a chain built purposefully outside of the gaze of NYC media).

“I feel like I know how to feed New Yorkers,” says Flay. “I understand the city, and I love the city.”

Based on the first two years at Gato, the city—and even many of its infamously Food Network–averse critics—seems to love him back. Still, after painting himself into a corner with the Jay-Z-as-Emeril comparison, he looks to the West Coast for his rap-game alter ego: “I guess I’m Snoop Dogg”—another O.G. who’s stayed relevant among the young bucks.

Whether you want to compare him to Hov or the Doggfather, Flay pins his longevity to a simple truth: “Cooking to me is like a recording of my life,” and he’s “happiest when I’m in my apron, making paella.” Here, the Food Network icon traces the road from My-T-Fine pudding to Gato through his most memorable meals, with a couple of classic NYC stops along the way.


The 10 Dishes That Made My Career: Bobby Flay

“Jay Z is the Emeril Lagasse of the rap world,” says Bobby Flay when asked to compare hip-hop’s mainstream takeover to the ascent of Food Network over the past quarter century. “I really want to be Jay Z, but I don’t want to say it myself.”

Despite Flay’s reluctance to crown himself the culinary Hov, the parallel is not so far-fetched: Both emerged in the ’90s with game-changing projects that catapulted their careers—Flay with Mesa Grill (1991), and Jay Z with Reasonable Doubt (1996). Both have maintained top billing in their fields through decades when food television and hip-hop spawned legions of copycats and pretenders to the throne (“with any success there’s excess,” is Flay’s diplomatic prognosis of the current cooking-show glut). And, perhaps most tellingly, both stars have a distinctively New York obsession with staying relevant on their home turf.

That last part may surprise some fans, who associate Flay more with Southwestern cooking and the backyard barbecues of Grillin’ & Chillin’ than his Upper East Side upbringing. But while he may not keep a Yankees fitted attached to his head, Flay has the city’s classics—JG Melon, Peter Luger, Grand Central Oyster Bar—coursing through his veins, and he cares about being at the center of the “everyday conversation of where to eat in New York.”

This month, Flay celebrated the two-year anniversary of Gato, his Mediterranean-inspired NoHo hot spot, and he doesn’t hesitate in calling it the greatest triumph of his career—above the James Beard Awards, the Emmys, the star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even the cameo on Entourage.

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me,” he explains. “It was almost like a prize fight: I was like, ‘I’m going to stand here and if you want to knock me down, great, and if not, I hope you really enjoy the food.'”

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me.”

Flay speaks with the type of haters-gonna-hate confidence that comes with more than two decades on television. He rose to prominence at at time when food stars—especially bad-boy types like Flay and Todd English—became tabloid targets, and an influx of stand-and-stir charlatans caused diners to turn a suspicious eye toward chefs who spent more time in a green room than a kitchen. But rather than turning him into a cash-checking nihilist, the bumps and bruises seem to have made him as aware as ever of his legacy. And so he has rules: He’ll only take TV gigs where he’s actually cooking (besides Next Food Network Star, where he’s mentoring cooks). He’ll never open “restaurants in other major cities [except for New York] unless it’s in a hotel or casino” for fear that he can’t be present enough (besides Bobby’s Burger Palace, a chain built purposefully outside of the gaze of NYC media).

“I feel like I know how to feed New Yorkers,” says Flay. “I understand the city, and I love the city.”

Based on the first two years at Gato, the city—and even many of its infamously Food Network–averse critics—seems to love him back. Still, after painting himself into a corner with the Jay-Z-as-Emeril comparison, he looks to the West Coast for his rap-game alter ego: “I guess I’m Snoop Dogg”—another O.G. who’s stayed relevant among the young bucks.

Whether you want to compare him to Hov or the Doggfather, Flay pins his longevity to a simple truth: “Cooking to me is like a recording of my life,” and he’s “happiest when I’m in my apron, making paella.” Here, the Food Network icon traces the road from My-T-Fine pudding to Gato through his most memorable meals, with a couple of classic NYC stops along the way.


The 10 Dishes That Made My Career: Bobby Flay

“Jay Z is the Emeril Lagasse of the rap world,” says Bobby Flay when asked to compare hip-hop’s mainstream takeover to the ascent of Food Network over the past quarter century. “I really want to be Jay Z, but I don’t want to say it myself.”

Despite Flay’s reluctance to crown himself the culinary Hov, the parallel is not so far-fetched: Both emerged in the ’90s with game-changing projects that catapulted their careers—Flay with Mesa Grill (1991), and Jay Z with Reasonable Doubt (1996). Both have maintained top billing in their fields through decades when food television and hip-hop spawned legions of copycats and pretenders to the throne (“with any success there’s excess,” is Flay’s diplomatic prognosis of the current cooking-show glut). And, perhaps most tellingly, both stars have a distinctively New York obsession with staying relevant on their home turf.

That last part may surprise some fans, who associate Flay more with Southwestern cooking and the backyard barbecues of Grillin’ & Chillin’ than his Upper East Side upbringing. But while he may not keep a Yankees fitted attached to his head, Flay has the city’s classics—JG Melon, Peter Luger, Grand Central Oyster Bar—coursing through his veins, and he cares about being at the center of the “everyday conversation of where to eat in New York.”

This month, Flay celebrated the two-year anniversary of Gato, his Mediterranean-inspired NoHo hot spot, and he doesn’t hesitate in calling it the greatest triumph of his career—above the James Beard Awards, the Emmys, the star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even the cameo on Entourage.

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me,” he explains. “It was almost like a prize fight: I was like, ‘I’m going to stand here and if you want to knock me down, great, and if not, I hope you really enjoy the food.'”

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me.”

Flay speaks with the type of haters-gonna-hate confidence that comes with more than two decades on television. He rose to prominence at at time when food stars—especially bad-boy types like Flay and Todd English—became tabloid targets, and an influx of stand-and-stir charlatans caused diners to turn a suspicious eye toward chefs who spent more time in a green room than a kitchen. But rather than turning him into a cash-checking nihilist, the bumps and bruises seem to have made him as aware as ever of his legacy. And so he has rules: He’ll only take TV gigs where he’s actually cooking (besides Next Food Network Star, where he’s mentoring cooks). He’ll never open “restaurants in other major cities [except for New York] unless it’s in a hotel or casino” for fear that he can’t be present enough (besides Bobby’s Burger Palace, a chain built purposefully outside of the gaze of NYC media).

“I feel like I know how to feed New Yorkers,” says Flay. “I understand the city, and I love the city.”

Based on the first two years at Gato, the city—and even many of its infamously Food Network–averse critics—seems to love him back. Still, after painting himself into a corner with the Jay-Z-as-Emeril comparison, he looks to the West Coast for his rap-game alter ego: “I guess I’m Snoop Dogg”—another O.G. who’s stayed relevant among the young bucks.

Whether you want to compare him to Hov or the Doggfather, Flay pins his longevity to a simple truth: “Cooking to me is like a recording of my life,” and he’s “happiest when I’m in my apron, making paella.” Here, the Food Network icon traces the road from My-T-Fine pudding to Gato through his most memorable meals, with a couple of classic NYC stops along the way.


The 10 Dishes That Made My Career: Bobby Flay

“Jay Z is the Emeril Lagasse of the rap world,” says Bobby Flay when asked to compare hip-hop’s mainstream takeover to the ascent of Food Network over the past quarter century. “I really want to be Jay Z, but I don’t want to say it myself.”

Despite Flay’s reluctance to crown himself the culinary Hov, the parallel is not so far-fetched: Both emerged in the ’90s with game-changing projects that catapulted their careers—Flay with Mesa Grill (1991), and Jay Z with Reasonable Doubt (1996). Both have maintained top billing in their fields through decades when food television and hip-hop spawned legions of copycats and pretenders to the throne (“with any success there’s excess,” is Flay’s diplomatic prognosis of the current cooking-show glut). And, perhaps most tellingly, both stars have a distinctively New York obsession with staying relevant on their home turf.

That last part may surprise some fans, who associate Flay more with Southwestern cooking and the backyard barbecues of Grillin’ & Chillin’ than his Upper East Side upbringing. But while he may not keep a Yankees fitted attached to his head, Flay has the city’s classics—JG Melon, Peter Luger, Grand Central Oyster Bar—coursing through his veins, and he cares about being at the center of the “everyday conversation of where to eat in New York.”

This month, Flay celebrated the two-year anniversary of Gato, his Mediterranean-inspired NoHo hot spot, and he doesn’t hesitate in calling it the greatest triumph of his career—above the James Beard Awards, the Emmys, the star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even the cameo on Entourage.

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me,” he explains. “It was almost like a prize fight: I was like, ‘I’m going to stand here and if you want to knock me down, great, and if not, I hope you really enjoy the food.'”

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me.”

Flay speaks with the type of haters-gonna-hate confidence that comes with more than two decades on television. He rose to prominence at at time when food stars—especially bad-boy types like Flay and Todd English—became tabloid targets, and an influx of stand-and-stir charlatans caused diners to turn a suspicious eye toward chefs who spent more time in a green room than a kitchen. But rather than turning him into a cash-checking nihilist, the bumps and bruises seem to have made him as aware as ever of his legacy. And so he has rules: He’ll only take TV gigs where he’s actually cooking (besides Next Food Network Star, where he’s mentoring cooks). He’ll never open “restaurants in other major cities [except for New York] unless it’s in a hotel or casino” for fear that he can’t be present enough (besides Bobby’s Burger Palace, a chain built purposefully outside of the gaze of NYC media).

“I feel like I know how to feed New Yorkers,” says Flay. “I understand the city, and I love the city.”

Based on the first two years at Gato, the city—and even many of its infamously Food Network–averse critics—seems to love him back. Still, after painting himself into a corner with the Jay-Z-as-Emeril comparison, he looks to the West Coast for his rap-game alter ego: “I guess I’m Snoop Dogg”—another O.G. who’s stayed relevant among the young bucks.

Whether you want to compare him to Hov or the Doggfather, Flay pins his longevity to a simple truth: “Cooking to me is like a recording of my life,” and he’s “happiest when I’m in my apron, making paella.” Here, the Food Network icon traces the road from My-T-Fine pudding to Gato through his most memorable meals, with a couple of classic NYC stops along the way.


The 10 Dishes That Made My Career: Bobby Flay

“Jay Z is the Emeril Lagasse of the rap world,” says Bobby Flay when asked to compare hip-hop’s mainstream takeover to the ascent of Food Network over the past quarter century. “I really want to be Jay Z, but I don’t want to say it myself.”

Despite Flay’s reluctance to crown himself the culinary Hov, the parallel is not so far-fetched: Both emerged in the ’90s with game-changing projects that catapulted their careers—Flay with Mesa Grill (1991), and Jay Z with Reasonable Doubt (1996). Both have maintained top billing in their fields through decades when food television and hip-hop spawned legions of copycats and pretenders to the throne (“with any success there’s excess,” is Flay’s diplomatic prognosis of the current cooking-show glut). And, perhaps most tellingly, both stars have a distinctively New York obsession with staying relevant on their home turf.

That last part may surprise some fans, who associate Flay more with Southwestern cooking and the backyard barbecues of Grillin’ & Chillin’ than his Upper East Side upbringing. But while he may not keep a Yankees fitted attached to his head, Flay has the city’s classics—JG Melon, Peter Luger, Grand Central Oyster Bar—coursing through his veins, and he cares about being at the center of the “everyday conversation of where to eat in New York.”

This month, Flay celebrated the two-year anniversary of Gato, his Mediterranean-inspired NoHo hot spot, and he doesn’t hesitate in calling it the greatest triumph of his career—above the James Beard Awards, the Emmys, the star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even the cameo on Entourage.

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me,” he explains. “It was almost like a prize fight: I was like, ‘I’m going to stand here and if you want to knock me down, great, and if not, I hope you really enjoy the food.'”

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me.”

Flay speaks with the type of haters-gonna-hate confidence that comes with more than two decades on television. He rose to prominence at at time when food stars—especially bad-boy types like Flay and Todd English—became tabloid targets, and an influx of stand-and-stir charlatans caused diners to turn a suspicious eye toward chefs who spent more time in a green room than a kitchen. But rather than turning him into a cash-checking nihilist, the bumps and bruises seem to have made him as aware as ever of his legacy. And so he has rules: He’ll only take TV gigs where he’s actually cooking (besides Next Food Network Star, where he’s mentoring cooks). He’ll never open “restaurants in other major cities [except for New York] unless it’s in a hotel or casino” for fear that he can’t be present enough (besides Bobby’s Burger Palace, a chain built purposefully outside of the gaze of NYC media).

“I feel like I know how to feed New Yorkers,” says Flay. “I understand the city, and I love the city.”

Based on the first two years at Gato, the city—and even many of its infamously Food Network–averse critics—seems to love him back. Still, after painting himself into a corner with the Jay-Z-as-Emeril comparison, he looks to the West Coast for his rap-game alter ego: “I guess I’m Snoop Dogg”—another O.G. who’s stayed relevant among the young bucks.

Whether you want to compare him to Hov or the Doggfather, Flay pins his longevity to a simple truth: “Cooking to me is like a recording of my life,” and he’s “happiest when I’m in my apron, making paella.” Here, the Food Network icon traces the road from My-T-Fine pudding to Gato through his most memorable meals, with a couple of classic NYC stops along the way.


The 10 Dishes That Made My Career: Bobby Flay

“Jay Z is the Emeril Lagasse of the rap world,” says Bobby Flay when asked to compare hip-hop’s mainstream takeover to the ascent of Food Network over the past quarter century. “I really want to be Jay Z, but I don’t want to say it myself.”

Despite Flay’s reluctance to crown himself the culinary Hov, the parallel is not so far-fetched: Both emerged in the ’90s with game-changing projects that catapulted their careers—Flay with Mesa Grill (1991), and Jay Z with Reasonable Doubt (1996). Both have maintained top billing in their fields through decades when food television and hip-hop spawned legions of copycats and pretenders to the throne (“with any success there’s excess,” is Flay’s diplomatic prognosis of the current cooking-show glut). And, perhaps most tellingly, both stars have a distinctively New York obsession with staying relevant on their home turf.

That last part may surprise some fans, who associate Flay more with Southwestern cooking and the backyard barbecues of Grillin’ & Chillin’ than his Upper East Side upbringing. But while he may not keep a Yankees fitted attached to his head, Flay has the city’s classics—JG Melon, Peter Luger, Grand Central Oyster Bar—coursing through his veins, and he cares about being at the center of the “everyday conversation of where to eat in New York.”

This month, Flay celebrated the two-year anniversary of Gato, his Mediterranean-inspired NoHo hot spot, and he doesn’t hesitate in calling it the greatest triumph of his career—above the James Beard Awards, the Emmys, the star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even the cameo on Entourage.

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me,” he explains. “It was almost like a prize fight: I was like, ‘I’m going to stand here and if you want to knock me down, great, and if not, I hope you really enjoy the food.'”

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me.”

Flay speaks with the type of haters-gonna-hate confidence that comes with more than two decades on television. He rose to prominence at at time when food stars—especially bad-boy types like Flay and Todd English—became tabloid targets, and an influx of stand-and-stir charlatans caused diners to turn a suspicious eye toward chefs who spent more time in a green room than a kitchen. But rather than turning him into a cash-checking nihilist, the bumps and bruises seem to have made him as aware as ever of his legacy. And so he has rules: He’ll only take TV gigs where he’s actually cooking (besides Next Food Network Star, where he’s mentoring cooks). He’ll never open “restaurants in other major cities [except for New York] unless it’s in a hotel or casino” for fear that he can’t be present enough (besides Bobby’s Burger Palace, a chain built purposefully outside of the gaze of NYC media).

“I feel like I know how to feed New Yorkers,” says Flay. “I understand the city, and I love the city.”

Based on the first two years at Gato, the city—and even many of its infamously Food Network–averse critics—seems to love him back. Still, after painting himself into a corner with the Jay-Z-as-Emeril comparison, he looks to the West Coast for his rap-game alter ego: “I guess I’m Snoop Dogg”—another O.G. who’s stayed relevant among the young bucks.

Whether you want to compare him to Hov or the Doggfather, Flay pins his longevity to a simple truth: “Cooking to me is like a recording of my life,” and he’s “happiest when I’m in my apron, making paella.” Here, the Food Network icon traces the road from My-T-Fine pudding to Gato through his most memorable meals, with a couple of classic NYC stops along the way.


The 10 Dishes That Made My Career: Bobby Flay

“Jay Z is the Emeril Lagasse of the rap world,” says Bobby Flay when asked to compare hip-hop’s mainstream takeover to the ascent of Food Network over the past quarter century. “I really want to be Jay Z, but I don’t want to say it myself.”

Despite Flay’s reluctance to crown himself the culinary Hov, the parallel is not so far-fetched: Both emerged in the ’90s with game-changing projects that catapulted their careers—Flay with Mesa Grill (1991), and Jay Z with Reasonable Doubt (1996). Both have maintained top billing in their fields through decades when food television and hip-hop spawned legions of copycats and pretenders to the throne (“with any success there’s excess,” is Flay’s diplomatic prognosis of the current cooking-show glut). And, perhaps most tellingly, both stars have a distinctively New York obsession with staying relevant on their home turf.

That last part may surprise some fans, who associate Flay more with Southwestern cooking and the backyard barbecues of Grillin’ & Chillin’ than his Upper East Side upbringing. But while he may not keep a Yankees fitted attached to his head, Flay has the city’s classics—JG Melon, Peter Luger, Grand Central Oyster Bar—coursing through his veins, and he cares about being at the center of the “everyday conversation of where to eat in New York.”

This month, Flay celebrated the two-year anniversary of Gato, his Mediterranean-inspired NoHo hot spot, and he doesn’t hesitate in calling it the greatest triumph of his career—above the James Beard Awards, the Emmys, the star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even the cameo on Entourage.

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me,” he explains. “It was almost like a prize fight: I was like, ‘I’m going to stand here and if you want to knock me down, great, and if not, I hope you really enjoy the food.'”

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me.”

Flay speaks with the type of haters-gonna-hate confidence that comes with more than two decades on television. He rose to prominence at at time when food stars—especially bad-boy types like Flay and Todd English—became tabloid targets, and an influx of stand-and-stir charlatans caused diners to turn a suspicious eye toward chefs who spent more time in a green room than a kitchen. But rather than turning him into a cash-checking nihilist, the bumps and bruises seem to have made him as aware as ever of his legacy. And so he has rules: He’ll only take TV gigs where he’s actually cooking (besides Next Food Network Star, where he’s mentoring cooks). He’ll never open “restaurants in other major cities [except for New York] unless it’s in a hotel or casino” for fear that he can’t be present enough (besides Bobby’s Burger Palace, a chain built purposefully outside of the gaze of NYC media).

“I feel like I know how to feed New Yorkers,” says Flay. “I understand the city, and I love the city.”

Based on the first two years at Gato, the city—and even many of its infamously Food Network–averse critics—seems to love him back. Still, after painting himself into a corner with the Jay-Z-as-Emeril comparison, he looks to the West Coast for his rap-game alter ego: “I guess I’m Snoop Dogg”—another O.G. who’s stayed relevant among the young bucks.

Whether you want to compare him to Hov or the Doggfather, Flay pins his longevity to a simple truth: “Cooking to me is like a recording of my life,” and he’s “happiest when I’m in my apron, making paella.” Here, the Food Network icon traces the road from My-T-Fine pudding to Gato through his most memorable meals, with a couple of classic NYC stops along the way.


The 10 Dishes That Made My Career: Bobby Flay

“Jay Z is the Emeril Lagasse of the rap world,” says Bobby Flay when asked to compare hip-hop’s mainstream takeover to the ascent of Food Network over the past quarter century. “I really want to be Jay Z, but I don’t want to say it myself.”

Despite Flay’s reluctance to crown himself the culinary Hov, the parallel is not so far-fetched: Both emerged in the ’90s with game-changing projects that catapulted their careers—Flay with Mesa Grill (1991), and Jay Z with Reasonable Doubt (1996). Both have maintained top billing in their fields through decades when food television and hip-hop spawned legions of copycats and pretenders to the throne (“with any success there’s excess,” is Flay’s diplomatic prognosis of the current cooking-show glut). And, perhaps most tellingly, both stars have a distinctively New York obsession with staying relevant on their home turf.

That last part may surprise some fans, who associate Flay more with Southwestern cooking and the backyard barbecues of Grillin’ & Chillin’ than his Upper East Side upbringing. But while he may not keep a Yankees fitted attached to his head, Flay has the city’s classics—JG Melon, Peter Luger, Grand Central Oyster Bar—coursing through his veins, and he cares about being at the center of the “everyday conversation of where to eat in New York.”

This month, Flay celebrated the two-year anniversary of Gato, his Mediterranean-inspired NoHo hot spot, and he doesn’t hesitate in calling it the greatest triumph of his career—above the James Beard Awards, the Emmys, the star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even the cameo on Entourage.

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me,” he explains. “It was almost like a prize fight: I was like, ‘I’m going to stand here and if you want to knock me down, great, and if not, I hope you really enjoy the food.'”

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me.”

Flay speaks with the type of haters-gonna-hate confidence that comes with more than two decades on television. He rose to prominence at at time when food stars—especially bad-boy types like Flay and Todd English—became tabloid targets, and an influx of stand-and-stir charlatans caused diners to turn a suspicious eye toward chefs who spent more time in a green room than a kitchen. But rather than turning him into a cash-checking nihilist, the bumps and bruises seem to have made him as aware as ever of his legacy. And so he has rules: He’ll only take TV gigs where he’s actually cooking (besides Next Food Network Star, where he’s mentoring cooks). He’ll never open “restaurants in other major cities [except for New York] unless it’s in a hotel or casino” for fear that he can’t be present enough (besides Bobby’s Burger Palace, a chain built purposefully outside of the gaze of NYC media).

“I feel like I know how to feed New Yorkers,” says Flay. “I understand the city, and I love the city.”

Based on the first two years at Gato, the city—and even many of its infamously Food Network–averse critics—seems to love him back. Still, after painting himself into a corner with the Jay-Z-as-Emeril comparison, he looks to the West Coast for his rap-game alter ego: “I guess I’m Snoop Dogg”—another O.G. who’s stayed relevant among the young bucks.

Whether you want to compare him to Hov or the Doggfather, Flay pins his longevity to a simple truth: “Cooking to me is like a recording of my life,” and he’s “happiest when I’m in my apron, making paella.” Here, the Food Network icon traces the road from My-T-Fine pudding to Gato through his most memorable meals, with a couple of classic NYC stops along the way.


The 10 Dishes That Made My Career: Bobby Flay

“Jay Z is the Emeril Lagasse of the rap world,” says Bobby Flay when asked to compare hip-hop’s mainstream takeover to the ascent of Food Network over the past quarter century. “I really want to be Jay Z, but I don’t want to say it myself.”

Despite Flay’s reluctance to crown himself the culinary Hov, the parallel is not so far-fetched: Both emerged in the ’90s with game-changing projects that catapulted their careers—Flay with Mesa Grill (1991), and Jay Z with Reasonable Doubt (1996). Both have maintained top billing in their fields through decades when food television and hip-hop spawned legions of copycats and pretenders to the throne (“with any success there’s excess,” is Flay’s diplomatic prognosis of the current cooking-show glut). And, perhaps most tellingly, both stars have a distinctively New York obsession with staying relevant on their home turf.

That last part may surprise some fans, who associate Flay more with Southwestern cooking and the backyard barbecues of Grillin’ & Chillin’ than his Upper East Side upbringing. But while he may not keep a Yankees fitted attached to his head, Flay has the city’s classics—JG Melon, Peter Luger, Grand Central Oyster Bar—coursing through his veins, and he cares about being at the center of the “everyday conversation of where to eat in New York.”

This month, Flay celebrated the two-year anniversary of Gato, his Mediterranean-inspired NoHo hot spot, and he doesn’t hesitate in calling it the greatest triumph of his career—above the James Beard Awards, the Emmys, the star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even the cameo on Entourage.

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me,” he explains. “It was almost like a prize fight: I was like, ‘I’m going to stand here and if you want to knock me down, great, and if not, I hope you really enjoy the food.'”

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me.”

Flay speaks with the type of haters-gonna-hate confidence that comes with more than two decades on television. He rose to prominence at at time when food stars—especially bad-boy types like Flay and Todd English—became tabloid targets, and an influx of stand-and-stir charlatans caused diners to turn a suspicious eye toward chefs who spent more time in a green room than a kitchen. But rather than turning him into a cash-checking nihilist, the bumps and bruises seem to have made him as aware as ever of his legacy. And so he has rules: He’ll only take TV gigs where he’s actually cooking (besides Next Food Network Star, where he’s mentoring cooks). He’ll never open “restaurants in other major cities [except for New York] unless it’s in a hotel or casino” for fear that he can’t be present enough (besides Bobby’s Burger Palace, a chain built purposefully outside of the gaze of NYC media).

“I feel like I know how to feed New Yorkers,” says Flay. “I understand the city, and I love the city.”

Based on the first two years at Gato, the city—and even many of its infamously Food Network–averse critics—seems to love him back. Still, after painting himself into a corner with the Jay-Z-as-Emeril comparison, he looks to the West Coast for his rap-game alter ego: “I guess I’m Snoop Dogg”—another O.G. who’s stayed relevant among the young bucks.

Whether you want to compare him to Hov or the Doggfather, Flay pins his longevity to a simple truth: “Cooking to me is like a recording of my life,” and he’s “happiest when I’m in my apron, making paella.” Here, the Food Network icon traces the road from My-T-Fine pudding to Gato through his most memorable meals, with a couple of classic NYC stops along the way.


The 10 Dishes That Made My Career: Bobby Flay

“Jay Z is the Emeril Lagasse of the rap world,” says Bobby Flay when asked to compare hip-hop’s mainstream takeover to the ascent of Food Network over the past quarter century. “I really want to be Jay Z, but I don’t want to say it myself.”

Despite Flay’s reluctance to crown himself the culinary Hov, the parallel is not so far-fetched: Both emerged in the ’90s with game-changing projects that catapulted their careers—Flay with Mesa Grill (1991), and Jay Z with Reasonable Doubt (1996). Both have maintained top billing in their fields through decades when food television and hip-hop spawned legions of copycats and pretenders to the throne (“with any success there’s excess,” is Flay’s diplomatic prognosis of the current cooking-show glut). And, perhaps most tellingly, both stars have a distinctively New York obsession with staying relevant on their home turf.

That last part may surprise some fans, who associate Flay more with Southwestern cooking and the backyard barbecues of Grillin’ & Chillin’ than his Upper East Side upbringing. But while he may not keep a Yankees fitted attached to his head, Flay has the city’s classics—JG Melon, Peter Luger, Grand Central Oyster Bar—coursing through his veins, and he cares about being at the center of the “everyday conversation of where to eat in New York.”

This month, Flay celebrated the two-year anniversary of Gato, his Mediterranean-inspired NoHo hot spot, and he doesn’t hesitate in calling it the greatest triumph of his career—above the James Beard Awards, the Emmys, the star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even the cameo on Entourage.

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me,” he explains. “It was almost like a prize fight: I was like, ‘I’m going to stand here and if you want to knock me down, great, and if not, I hope you really enjoy the food.'”

“At Gato, a lot of people were rooting against me.”

Flay speaks with the type of haters-gonna-hate confidence that comes with more than two decades on television. He rose to prominence at at time when food stars—especially bad-boy types like Flay and Todd English—became tabloid targets, and an influx of stand-and-stir charlatans caused diners to turn a suspicious eye toward chefs who spent more time in a green room than a kitchen. But rather than turning him into a cash-checking nihilist, the bumps and bruises seem to have made him as aware as ever of his legacy. And so he has rules: He’ll only take TV gigs where he’s actually cooking (besides Next Food Network Star, where he’s mentoring cooks). He’ll never open “restaurants in other major cities [except for New York] unless it’s in a hotel or casino” for fear that he can’t be present enough (besides Bobby’s Burger Palace, a chain built purposefully outside of the gaze of NYC media).

“I feel like I know how to feed New Yorkers,” says Flay. “I understand the city, and I love the city.”

Based on the first two years at Gato, the city—and even many of its infamously Food Network–averse critics—seems to love him back. Still, after painting himself into a corner with the Jay-Z-as-Emeril comparison, he looks to the West Coast for his rap-game alter ego: “I guess I’m Snoop Dogg”—another O.G. who’s stayed relevant among the young bucks.

Whether you want to compare him to Hov or the Doggfather, Flay pins his longevity to a simple truth: “Cooking to me is like a recording of my life,” and he’s “happiest when I’m in my apron, making paella.” Here, the Food Network icon traces the road from My-T-Fine pudding to Gato through his most memorable meals, with a couple of classic NYC stops along the way.


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