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Mar 16, 2009 11:31 AM

Throwdown with Bobby Flay staged?

I imagine those of you who watch this show by now at least have doubts as to the authenticity of the show. Are people really still surprised to have Bobby Flay show up unannounced on their cooking show pilot? Is it soul crushing to not really be featured, even if you do get a pseudo-feature? etc.

I came across this after the Pad Thai throwdown:

The video doesn't say "throwdown" per se, but does refer to a competition. What to think? I never really knew, but of course, suspected. Still I feel a wee bit cheated, like they tried to one-up us. obviously, I do not know if this was always the setup.

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  1. Could be. a "Throwdown" in Sonoma County
    was announced beforehand in a local paper.

    1. It's highly likely that these throwdowns are filmed way ahead of time, then aired later. That way they can be edited to make the most "entertaining" half hour. I would bet that this particular throwdown was filmed many weeks/months ago, but that the paper was just announcing the fact that it would be shown that night (next day). You didn't think they were broadcast live did you?

      4 Replies
      1. re: PattiCakes

        no, that's not at issue. the link I posted has a video "audition" for the lady to be on throwdown.

        1. re: Icantread

          Ah. I'm wondering if it was an audition video for her to do a segment on Food Network, and not necessarily a throwdown? The show usually uses the premise of having the "victim" chef duped into doing some sort of regular show that features their cooking. Then, during the filming of said show -- OMG! It's Bobby Flay!

          1. re: PattiCakes

            From what I saw, she thought she was going to be on a show called Tasty Translations, about making foreign food for Americans. If she knew she was going to be on throwdown she is a great actress in addition to being a great chef.

        2. re: PattiCakes

          Your guess is correct - at least for the Throwdown that Bobby Flay did with one of our local restaurants on H Street NE in Washington DC.
          Granville Moore's kitchen is too small for a film crew so the Food Network arranged to tape a segment for "another FN show" a larger nearby restaurant, The Argonaut, and invited folks from the neighborhood to the taping. That is ALL that anybody knew including chef Teddy Folkman and the owners of The Argonaut or Granville's.
          It really WAS a surprise.
          They did a lot of taping beyond what they used for the Throwdown which was edited - of course.
          I didn't go so I don't know if they taped alternate endings or not.
          The date for the airing of the show was announced and made public in local message boards, local media, and IIRC on DCist.
          Of course, both The Argonaut and Granville Moore's had viewing parties to celebrate the show the night it finally aired.

          The Throwdown has been great for their business because lots of people now know about the terrific food at Granville's - and The Argonaut - as well as about H Street, NE, an up and coming entertainment district.
          Teddy Folkman is a terrific young chef and Granville's is a great place. The best mussels in DC, terrific fries with great dipping sauces, and a fabulous selection of Belgian beers. Locally sourced foods, a super bison burger.

        3. I recall seeing reports from earlier episodes where people definitely were hoodwinked (IIRC at least one person wasn't too happy). I also recall seeing reports where these days the people generally have a pretty good idea that Bobby Flay might be showing up just because the situation is always so similar.

          15 Replies
          1. re: jgg13

            I haven't watched in a long time but I remember one, the donut guy I think, that was really pissed. Came across as a really bad sport.

            1. re: billieboy

              Yeah, the donut guy was one that I was thinking of in terms of being angry, but was too lazy to go look it up.

            2. re: jgg13

              I definitely remember at least 2 people, one of them was REALLY unhappy.. Asking his buddy "what the hell is this?" and so on.. I guess that was the donut guy. The Buffalo wing guy also wasn't happy, if I recall correctly. The Pop Shop people definitely weren't happy either.. but thats probably after they lost

              1. re: duckdown

                The only person I've ever seen really angry about the whole thing was the donut guy, Mark Isreal of the Donut Plant in NYC.

                1. re: Buckethead

                  That man makes great donuts, but what a horrible sport! I didn't think I'd ever eat one of his donuts again. I believe that was season 1, however and I wonder if the formula changed as the deal went on.

                  On a side note, DOnut Plant has a store in Tokyo as well that has some of the worst donuts I've ever tasted, mostly due to wayyyyyyy to old grease

                2. re: duckdown

                  I keep hoping Nigella Lawson will challenge me to a throwdown :-)

                  1. re: billieboy

                    you're cute, billieboy! saw your gal this morning, in fact!

                  2. re: duckdown

                    The guy from Izzy's ice cream in St. Paul didn't even know who Bobby Flay was.


                    1. re: duckdown

                      In the first season, it was either jerk chicken or jambalaya and the woman was clearly pissed - Bobby even mentioned as much in his narration and there were clips of her giving him lip. There was a split decision between the judges so the final verdict ended up being given to a random 11 year-old. This woman looked like she was going to strangle the kid if he didn't choose her dish - seriously, the kid looked scared!

                      Some people seem to think the show isn't fair to Flay's competitors but if anything the odds are stacked against him. The dishes are judged according to "authenticity" which usually ends up meaning that Flay loses because he tweeks the dish, regardless of how it tastes (hot peppers in arroz con pollo - no, not that!), and the judges are probably pressured by the crowd to give it to the hometown hero. I've often wondered whether the winner's dish was really better than Bobby's - matzoh ball soup, fried chicken, moules frites, etc. He even lost to Paula Deen because he used cream gravy on his chicken fried steak! In the first season he only won 3 times (and tied once), with one of these times being for burgers. Note that this is one of the only times Bobby had the more traditional take on the dish. His competitor made a Greek style burger - I wouldn't be surprised if the judges thought it was Bobby's!

                      1. re: joeyz

                        jambalaya was a guy, so if it was a woman it'd have to be jerk chicken. i don't remember her name.

                        also, the scoring categories aren't always the same - if you watch carefully, it's always set up such that if everything was on the up & up that it'd favor Flay (e.g. your authenticity point), but they do vary.

                        1. re: jgg13

                          Hmmm, jambalaya was a man, and there was a jerk competition with a West Indian dude just outside of NYC in Mt Vernon...maybe that wasn't chicken?

                          The first episode I saw involved beef and the military -- the US military guy clearly had inferior everything to work with, especially the meat. That's where I formed my first impression of unfairness. It's waaaay more fun when Flay's up against a masterful specialty operation, like industrial-sized jambalaya.

                          1. re: pitu

                            The jerk guy outside of NYC was jerk ribeye

                        2. re: joeyz

                          I don't remember this one... it couldn't have been jambalaya cause i just watched it the other day and don't remember that... never seen jerk chicken one

                          1. re: duckdown

                            As I recall, the donut throwdown guy was the crankiest of them all, upon finding out he'd been fooled. He was visibly upset, and then got bitchy once he agreed to the throwdown.

                            1. re: FabFrugalFood

                              Yes, he was really pissy. But, damn, his donuts are unbelievable!

                    2. I have a recurring daydream that Bobby is filming one of his shows, showing people how to make chili rellenos or some such thing, when Rick Bayless marches on the set and challenges him to a throwdown.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: sku

                        Wasn't the chocolate throwdown a reverse one?

                          1. re: paulj

                            great idea: "reverse throwdown."

                            1. re: alkapal

                              There was a "reverse throwdown" last December where the challenge was a Buche Noel (sp?)... aka a yule log.

                              Fran├žois Payard vs Bobby Flay

                              1. re: dave_c

                                I believe that one and the chocolate one from season 2 were both reverse challenges. The Buche de Noel Throwdown I think was a way for Bobby Flay to pay homage to Francois Payard. He acted surpised, but I think he set this up himself. If I remember correctly Payard was actually a little nervous about losing this battle.

                            1. re: sku

                              Didn't Bayless do Iron Chef once? I don't recall if he challenged Flay, though.

                              1. re: Bada Bing

                                If my memory serves me right, it was battle buffalo and Bayless won.

                                1. re: gmk1322

                                  It was battle bison but Bayless lost to Flay.

                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                    ICA-to me that show seems to be fixed in BF's favor. How many times can someone use the same two or three ingredients the same way and still be praised for his creativity and innovation.

                                    Are smoked habaneros really that necessary for every dish?

                            2. Justa side note. Many of the "victims" have said that their businesses are almost too busy since their Throwdown appearances. I forget which battle it was (something like chicken parm or eggplant parm, not sure. But one guy said his businness was starting to falter, and after the show, he had his best year ever. He said, he was initially unhappy wirth the surprise and totally caught off guard. he said what he served wasn't what he nomrally puts out, but said, Bobby Flay not only does the competition but pushes the audience to eat at these establishments.

                              like him or not, BF is recognized as one of the leaders in pushing the restaurant business and getting young people involved in cooking.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: jhopp217

                                The interview with BF on Chef's Story (currently playing on PBS CreateTV) touched on his involvement with the FC Institute and encouraging students.

                                Another chef interviewed on that program (O'Connell) said that when a food critic from nearby Washington DC ate at his new restaurant (The Inn), the critic asked him whether he was prepared for a significant surge in business. He knew from experience that a favorable review of an upstart can result in some difficult growth pains.

                                1. re: paulj

                                  The Inn at Little Washington is 30+ years old, hardly an upstart and doesn't need any more publicity to thrive.

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    But even The Inn had a start. This was in the days when it was a converted gas station and meals cost $5. That early very favorable review was part of what made it thrive.

                                    1. re: paulj

                                      Meals were never $5 at the Inn. My first husband was one of their original employees.

                                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                        I ate there back in the day, and the idea of $5 meals is ludicrous. The Inn was upscale from the git go, serving local, organic (pricey) foods.