The celebrity chef on his latest venture “Made By Nacho”
Nora chats with celebrity chef and restaurateur Bobby Flay about his latest venture, Made By Nacho, a line of premium cat food and treats inspired by his beloved Maine Coon, Nacho Flay. Bobby also shares his approach to creating new restaurant concepts while managing a diverse business portfolio, and offers tips for aspiring chefs and restaurateurs. For more info on our presenting sponsor, check out realvision.com/businesscasual.
Host: Nora Ali
Producer: Bella Hutchins
Production, Mixing & Sound Design: Daniel Markus
Fact Checker: Kate Brandt
Senior Producer: Katherine Milsop
VP, Head of Multimedia: Sarah Singer
Full transcripts for all Business Casual episodes available at https://businesscasual.fm
Nora Ali: From Morning Brew, this is Business Casual, bringing you conversations with people you know, and some you may not know yet, to make business less intimidating. Because money talks, but it does not have to be dull. I'm your host, Nora Ali. Now let's get down to business.
Bobby Flay is a chef, restaurant owner, entrepreneur, and cookbook author. You probably know him as a Food Network star, or maybe you've been to one of the two dozen restaurants or so that he's opened across the US. But Bobby Flay's latest business venture is all about Nacho, his bright orange, 20-pound Maine Coon. Yes, Bobby is a devoted cat dad, and it turns out that cats are very discerning about what they eat—more so than dogs, even, according to Bobby, which is why he created Made by Nacho, a line of cat food and treats that are made with high-quality ingredients like quail, duck, chicken, and bone broth, with chef-inspired recipes. The conversation with Bobby was so much fun. We talked about Nacho, his growing business portfolio—that includes restaurants and a media company, Rock Shrimp Productions—and even his foray into food tech company Wonder. We learned a lot about how Bobby manages his many businesses, and that for him as a chef/owner, every restaurant concept always starts with food—what he's cooking and eating in that moment. For Bobby, it's not about where the demand might be or where there may be a gap in the market. We also got his take on what it takes to sustain yourself and your career in the food space. Spoiler alert: It's training, and the ability to make consistently good food, not just having a TV-friendly personality. All that and more is up next, after the break.
Bobby, let's start with some icebreakers to get a little warmed up. First question for you: What is the toughest thing about being in the restaurant business that you wish more people knew about?
Bobby Flay: I mean, there's a lot of tough things about being in the restaurant business. And I would say that they're tougher more than ever. I got into the restaurant business by accident when I was very young—I was 17 years old—because I needed a job. I dropped out of high school in 10th grade, so I was just looking for some direction. I'm not really sure exactly what the direction was at that point in my life, but just something to grasp onto, and I got lucky that I found cooking very early in my life as something to focus in on. And the bottom line is, and I tell this to people all the time, that's what people who love to cook want to do. They want to cook. And so basically you go to culinary school, you learn how to cook. You want to open restaurants, and all of the passion becomes a smaller percentage of what you do every single day, especially when you become an entrepreneur restaurateur, however you want to describe it, because running a business has all these other components that kind of get in the way of your passion, which is, you just want to make good food. So I think that that's the hardest part of being in the restaurant business and a lot of people over the last, I would say decade or so, have been very tough on it. It's sort of fashionable to speak ill of the restaurant business as a business. And the bottom line is there's good and bad in every business in every industry, but I've had wonderful experiences, both as somebody who was a line cook and somebody who was an owner.
Nora Ali: Well, you put your chef coat on and put your business hat on for one of your newest ventures, and that is Made by Nacho. Bring me back to the point where you decided, I need to make food for my cat, Nacho Flay, and not just for the humans in my life. What was that moment for you?
Bobby Flay: It was a moment that kind of happened by accident when Instagram started getting popular. Nacho was young. At the time, he was probably a year old or maybe even less. And I was like, one of those days where I didn't have a lot to do. And I was like, I'm going to put up an account for Nacho, just for fun. And he started getting a lot of attention. I basically created a personality for him the way I see him, because I live with him every single moment. And he started getting a lot of followers and then like anything else, once you start getting a following, there are companies and individuals who think that there's a possibility to collaborate and you can become an influencer, et cetera. And so he started getting a lot of sort of calls. I say he started getting a lot of calls—I started getting a lot of calls about using him for endorsement deals for pet food companies, et cetera. And I was like, "I'm not doing that." That would be like me making a deal with McDonald's. It's never happening. But it did get me thinking that I wasn't really sure what to feed him. You walk up and down the aisles of a pet food store and it's not easy to decide what to choose. And obviously I've spent my entire life feeding people, human people, either directly or indirectly. And it's something I do every single day of my life. And I was like, "These cats are really important to me and I should be taking a more active role." And so then I decided that I was going to start Made by Nacho.
Nora Ali: That's amazing. I didn't realize that you had started the Nacho account. I thought some social media manager or someone on your team would've told you to start the Nacho account.
Bobby Flay: No way.
Nora Ali: It's you. It's you, Bobby. That's so smart. When you're thinking about the food that you're making for cats for Made by Nacho, how discerning are cats when it comes to the food they eat? Because I was reading the testimonials on the site and they're very good. There are things like, "To say she's obsessed is an understatement." I've never owned a pet, to be frank, but I didn't realize that pets could become so obsessed with certain food items based on sort of the quality and ingredients. So yeah, how discerning are cats?
Bobby Flay: Well, first things first is we need to get you a cat in your life.
Nora Ali: I know.
Bobby Flay: You'll be even a happier person than you are today. I grew up with them and so cats have always been a part of my life. It's the way I gravitate. Some people, I mean, a lot of people gravitate towards dogs. I love cats and I don't know a lot about dogs because I've never had a dog. But from what I've been told, in general, dogs will basically eat anything and cats will not. Cats have a very specific diet. They're carnivores. You're not creating a vegan diet for them. It's not happening. There's no kale and wild mushroom cat food. And so basically it makes their diet very narrow in terms of what the possibilities are. And so basically the two things that you have to think about when you're feeding cats is you have to start with some kind of meat, some kind of protein, and hydration is their number one thing. You have to make sure cats get hydrated because their number one danger area are their kidneys. If you have a good vet and you bring your cat to the vet, no matter how healthy they are, if they don't tell you to continue to hydrate them, no matter how healthy they are, they're not doing their job. Hydration is incredibly important.
So basically what we did was we created what we thought would be tasty recipes for cats. And obviously I had my own taste tester right next to me. So it starts with things like with chicken and quail and duck and seafood, like salmon, that's sustainably caught and white fish and cod, and then there's the beef recipe, et cetera. And so it starts there, but we surrounded it with bone broth. We took a human food trend, which was bone broth. Good-quality grocery stores, you can see bone broth on all the shelves. And we brought that into the cat world, because not only do they get protein from the bone broth, but they get the hydration they want. So you're basically killing two birds with one stone. You're getting them their hydration, it's very palatable, you're getting them protein, and then they continue to eat the food. So that was really the beginning of what my thought process was.
Nora Ali: That's interesting, bringing that human food trend of bone broth to the cat. So to what extent do you think...The branding is so great for Made by Nacho, both the Instagram account for Nacho and just the website for the company. To what extent do you think the personification of your cat has contributed to the company's success? Because we all love cat memes. We love sort of humanizing what we think our cats are thinking. Do you think that has really helped the success of the brand?
Bobby Flay: Yeah, because it's not...I didn't do this because...I didn't sit around one day and say, what's the void in the world? I'm going to open a cat food company. This is a genuine story. It's a real-life story. The bottom line is Nacho has been an incredibly important being in my life. He brings me joy every single day in my life. I love his personality. He is got a very big personality. He's a very big cat. He's a Maine Coon, which are the largest breeds. He's 20 pounds. He's no joke. People walk into my house and they're like, "What is that? Is that a small tiger?" I'm like, "No, it's my cat." So he has presence. He's bright orange, he's got this great color and he's a very handsome cat. So the idea that being able to do this with Nacho in mind, it's something that I think his presence, his legacy is going to last forever.
Nora Ali: I think this is such an important distinction that you've made, because when we talked to startup founders or venture capitalists, you often hear that the story began because I identified a big problem, a big hole, or to use your word, a void, in the market, and then the VCs will ask the founders, what's the total addressable market? How big of a problem is this? But for you, it's literally personal. You just want to nourish your cat, make sure other cats are fed so they can be happier, live longer. So I think that's a really unique story that we haven't really heard before.
Bobby Flay: Honestly, I'm learning so much more about this every single day. Cat people, cat parents have felt neglected forever because the bottom line is—and business is business, because you know the dog business is bigger than the cat business. So what happens? Companies that have the means start in the dog food business, because it's a bigger business. And then if they get success, they sit around one day and they say, what should we do next? Ah, it's the cats. We did it completely opposite, and we're getting this community of people who are like, thank you for noticing us and thinking of us first. And so I feel like Nacho has become a symbol of like, I got you. Cats everywhere, I got you covered.
Nora Ali: You're helping the cat people feel seen. And the website says, "Cats get our complete and undivided attention."
Bobby Flay: That's it. We're not going into the dog business.
Nora Ali: That's it.
Bobby Flay: It's not happening.
Nora Ali: Okay. All right. I was going to ask you if you had plans to expand, but cats only.
Bobby Flay: Our goal as a company, and we talk about this all the time—we ultimately want to be, and it's going to take a minute and we have the time. We want to ultimately be the confident, default thought process for any cat parent, either new or old, who thinks about Made by Nacho. We want to be everything for cats. We're very slowly churning to get the confidence of the cat parent everywhere. So that when Made by Nacho is on the package, whether it's dry food, whether it's wet food, whether it's treats, whether it's catnip, whether it's...We're going to go into...There will be in the litter business. That's going to be your default thought process, that you know that Made by Nacho's going to take care of you when you have a new cat.
Nora Ali: Wow, even the litter business down the line. So not just food, not just what Bobby Flay is known for, but for everything that the cat needs.
Bobby Flay: Everything cat eventually, that's the key.
Nora Ali: Yes. It's the cat empire, it's gonna be.
Bobby Flay: Who knew, right?
Nora Ali: Who knew? All right. We are going to take a very quick break; more with Bobby when we come back. Okay, Bobby, we've talked a lot about Made by Nacho and we are excited to see your cat empire being built, but let's talk about your restaurant empire, your restaurant business. So you've opened over two dozen restaurants throughout your career. And zooming out a little bit, clearly you're very intentional with every decision you make when you feed cats. I know that's also the case for when you feed humans. What is your approach to when you open a new restaurant, from curating the staff, to the menu, to the atmosphere...where do you even begin?
Bobby Flay: Great question. Nobody asks me that, everybody wants to know, what are you doing next? That's the question that I always get, or people say to me, what are the food trends? What's the next food trends? No idea. I mean, I just never...Nobody knows. So it starts with always inspired by the food. Like what am I eating today? What am I really interested in from an overall experience? Where do I want to get on a plane and go to and eat? And that can be someplace in the United States. It could be somewhere overseas. I basically just blanket myself in the culture of what I'm eating at that moment. For the last 15 years or so, I've been obsessed with Italy and I had never had an Italian restaurant. Now that said, at Gato, because it was Mediterranean, I would say somewhere between 40% and 50% of the dishes definitely had, you could say, some Italian influence. But it was also next to things that were Spanish in influence, that were North African influence, Greek. Anything in the Mediterranean. I would always say, like, any place that in Europe that's glued together with olive oil. It's like, that was Gato's cuisine. But I'd never had a straight up Italian restaurant. And then during the pandemic, I've been partners with Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas for a long time. We had Mesa Grill there for 16 years, and it was time to do something new. And they asked me what I wanted to do and we opened an Amalfi Coast restaurant called Amalfi. And it was the first time that I was able to bring my love of Italy to the plate, so to speak.
And so it all begins with what I'm eating at that moment, how I'm feeling about my lifestyle. Again, I never look at what does this area need? What does this location need? What's the void? I don't do it that way. I think about what I want to cook because I know the thing that I want to cook then is going to inspire everybody around me to be a better employee, a more enthusiastic employee and partner, et cetera. And so that's the most important thing. I'm a chef by trade. It's what I do. It's the most important thing to me. So it always starts with the food.
Nora Ali: Yeah. So it's not about what cuisine is missing in this neighborhood and what are the needs in terms of the market. It's about what you're passionate about. So how do you ensure, then, if you're inspired by Italian food in any given moment, how do you ensure that...This is an overused word, but I'm going to use it: the authenticity of the food. How do you ensure that you're bringing in the right chef partners and the right people who have maybe even cooked those kinds of foods longer than you, to make sure that the restaurant is as authentic as possible?
Bobby Flay: Well, ultimately, I create every dish in every one of my restaurants always, and that's never going to change. So it's not like I'm bringing chefs in. As I said, I'm a chef/owner. I'm not an owner/chef. It's food first. So I get inspired by people always. No matter where I go to eat, whether I'm in somebody's home or in their restaurants, I'm a fan. I'm not a hater. I go in and I want to love my meal. I want to be inspired. I want to be blown away. I want it to be so good, it pisses me off. Like that I haven't thought of this, and I do it with a smile, because I really appreciate skill and talent and magic on a plate. And so when it comes to authenticity, I don't ever promise authenticity, especially if it's something that I'm always constantly learning. I get inspired by the authenticity of a dish, but I almost always put my own twist on it.
Nora Ali: Mm-hmm. That's the authenticity in itself, is that it's not what you're striving for in terms of matching the cuisine of the location, but it is Bobby Flay's menu items. You come up with every dish...
Bobby Flay: Version of it. And I always say it's inspired by...It's incredibly important for people to understand that. I'm not looking to go into a culture or a cuisine and just copy it. There are great practitioners that do that all day long and you can go find them. What I'm saying is this dish that I ate in a trattoria in Rome is a classic cacio e pepe or whatever it is. And I might say, okay, well, I'm going to take the idea of this dish, the foundation of this, this is a classic for a reason. I might take a sort of a different look at it. I might use a different ingredient and put my own spin on it. That's all.
Nora Ali: So you also recently began franchising your burger chain, Bobby's Burgers. And I understand that you have a unique approach to that. Can you share what that approach is?
Bobby Flay: I started the burger business, again, same principle. I'm a burger guy. When I'm off work, finished cooking in the restaurants, I want to go out for a late night meal. I'm not eating foie gras and caviar, I'm eating a cheeseburger. And so I grew up as a kid eating in a restaurant called J.G. Melon's on the upper side of New York City, eating delicious cheeseburgers. And I always thought would be so much fun to have my own burger place. And so that's how Bobby's Burger Palace was born. During the pandemic, we decided that because we all had a lot of time on our hands and it was really the most thoughtful I've ever been in my adult life because I had a chance to do it. And one of the things that I wanted to do was to take a look at the burger concept that was at that point 12 or 13 years old—it kind of felt like it needed an update and that's what we did. We used our resources to change the name. We shortened it. We got rid of Palace. I thought Palace was like funny 13 years ago. And I think that smile was kind of over. Everybody called it Bobby's Burgers anyway, so we just shortened it to Bobby's Burgers. And then we changed the branding completely. Actually, the same person that branded Made by Nacho, I asked to rebrand Bobby's Burgers.
Nora Ali: Ah, smart.
Bobby Flay: They did a great job. Yes, they did a great job. And then we shortened the menu. We tightened the menu. We changed the menu and we changed the business model and the service model. Bobby's Burger Palace, the service model is...It's sort of like part-time full service, meaning you would order your food at the register. You would pay for it and you go sit down and we would bring you the food. You'd sit wherever you want. We'd bring you the food. And then we would take it away from you. And there were servers in the restaurant. At Bobby's Burgers now, we've sort of shortened the service process. And basically everything is now to go, because that's the way people are living their lives. And if they want to sit down and eat it right there, they can do that. It's up to them where for the most part, everybody kind of walks with it. And then we changed it from owning all the leases ourselves to licensing and franchising.
So licensing is...A lot of people don't understand this, but the difference between licensing and franchising is the following. In licensing, so I have fantastic partners like Caesar's. I was saying Caesar's Palace has been my partner for a long time. So over the last year and a half, we have opened three Bobby's Burgers, the new concept, with Caesar's Palace company. One in Caesar's Palace, the building. One in Harrah's, and one in the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. They own all three of those buildings. Those are license deals. So they're our partners. It's in their buildings. The employees are theirs. We run it through our key employees and then it's a partnership. A franchise deal is where you sell the rights to open a Bobby's Burgers with all the accoutrements that come along with it. And they obviously have to follow the guidelines, et cetera. We have a new partnership team that are experts in franchising. It's a very, very different business than what we were in prior. So again, we're constantly learning. We're constantly pushing the boundaries, but we think that this way, from an international and a domestic standpoint, Bobby's Burgers is going to grow significantly.
Nora Ali: Quick question for you. I am a Minnesotan. Are you a Juicy Lucy fan? Have you had a Juicy Lucy?
Bobby Flay: Love...I've had to do it on Beat Bobby Flay. I mean—
Nora Ali: Ah. Did you win?
Bobby Flay: I think I did. Honestly, don't quote me, I've done 550 of these. Sometimes I say, "Oh, I think I lost that one." And then somebody turns up and says, "No, you won it," or vice versa. So I think I won. Here's the thing I remember about it. I remember liking my burger. That doesn't mean I won.
Nora Ali: Okay. Okay.
Bobby Flay: Because sometimes the three judges don't agree with me, but I remember thinking, what a great concept, stuff the cheese in the burger. I mean, come on, who doesn't want to eat that, you know?
Nora Ali: Amazing. Totally. All right. On that note, let's take another quick break; more with Bobby when we come back. Bobby, we started touching on Beat Bobby Flay and all of your television endeavors, and I was listening to another interview where you said the key for you in doing television is really about awareness. So people ultimately know you and they ultimately choose your restaurants. It's about getting people into your restaurants. Is that still the case for you? Is that sort of the impetus? The drive to continue doing television?
Bobby Flay: That's how it started. I started very early on before Food Network even existed. And so as a chef in New York who owned his own restaurant, I was 25 when I opened my first restaurant. I mean, there was no such thing as social media then; basically there was New York Times and New York Magazine. That was your media. I mean, seriously, that was it. The internet didn't even exist. And so at the time when the Food Network came around, I was like, this is what? 24 hours of food? Who's going to...This is going to last a week. And obviously I was wrong, but then I very quickly became part of the network. And oh yeah, it changed my business immediately. It's so funny: Ironically, I always use...and this is just ironic—I always say the family from Minnesota, who comes to New York for the weekend, they need three restaurants. Hopefully because they've seen me on TV, they'll pick mine one night. That's the advantage. You know what I'm saying?
Nora Ali: Oh yeah.
Bobby Flay: But I actually always use Minnesota for some reason. And so that's how it all began. Now the media business is a very different, bigger business and it means so much in so many different ways. I mean, it just opens up doors that you could never get opened prior.
Nora Ali: Listen, my family was one of those Minnesotan families clicking through the Food Network. We would watch every single weekend morning together.
Bobby Flay: Really?
Nora Ali: And just become...Yeah, oh my gosh. Iron Chef. I mean, my mom is still...She's obsessed with Beat Bobby Flay, just shout out to my mom. Loves your show.
Bobby Flay: Love that. Thank you.
Nora Ali: But yeah. Yeah. It really brought us together, and it's a way to get exposure to foods that you don't see that often in Minnesota. So it's great. So Bobby, to your point, there's a lot of new forms, other forms of media now, social media, et cetera, and not everyone can be a TV star like you. So do you have any advice for branding and marketing yourself as a chef? If you're an aspiring restaurateur, what advice would you have for anyone, particularly who's just starting out?
Bobby Flay: It seems like every chef's on TV. Now that's a good thing, I think for people that want to be on it. Not everybody wants to be on TV. But for the people that do want to be on television or in media, the platforms are endless at this point. And you don't even have to be on TV anymore. I mean, the digital platforms are ginormous. There's a couple of things, and I don't want to sound like the guy that's been doing this for a long time...
Nora Ali: Well, you are.
Bobby Flay: I'm the guy that's been doing this for a long time.
Nora Ali: Yeah.
Bobby Flay: And it's easy for me to say this now to somebody who's younger, which is patience is so important here. And I will tell you why I say that. Well, first of all, I've been really patient and I've been doing this for a long time and I continue to work really hard to make myself better at it. It takes a long time to be good at this. And there's only one way to do it, by doing it. Experience. There's no substitute for it. You get better at it. You get better at being who you really want to be in front of the camera, so to speak. And I say the camera, meaning all media, digital, TV.I also think that as a cook, as a chef, your food evolves, it gets better. It has more layers. Sometimes it gets simpler for better. You hone your skills and that also takes time. And so I am always looking for...Because I have my own production company, we have Rock Shrimp Productions. And I'm always looking for somebody who is really, again, passionate about what they do, hard-working, roll up your sleeves, great work ethic. Understands that this is going to be hard. There's no overnight sensation. There really is not. And I'm looking for somebody that's going to have a long repertoire. So if you come to me and you have six good shows in you, I'm not interested, because we might kill it for six shows, but I want to know what you're doing in the 60th show. I want somebody that has the repertoire, somebody that can grow along with it. I talk to people who I really think are great at their profession—not their media profession, their underlying profession. Those are the people I want to be in business with. I don't want to be in business with people that are a tiny bit just media-hungry, so to speak. I want you to be hungry in business in general, but I want somebody who has an underlying passion and skill that can go the distance.
Nora Ali: And yet to your point about this idea that there aren't overnight sensations in the world of food, you could argue that there are sometimes overnight sensations when it comes to TikTok and becoming a viral chef on social media. But it sounds like that's not necessarily the kind of person you would think has longevity in the food business. So do you think going to culinary school and having that trained background is important in order to survive the long haul?
Bobby Flay: I do. And listen, I'm not a school advocate. I should be, because it's the right thing to do. I dropped out of high school when I was 17. 16, 17 years old. I'm not proud of it, it's just the life that I led. But I went to culinary school. I had to get my GED to go back to culinary school. And I'm glad I went to culinary school because it gave me the basics of French technique, which for the most part is the basics of most of what we cook every single day. And when you want to be able to call an audible in your career, that's what you're going to rely on. So I can go from cooking French cuisine to Italian cuisine, to Southwestern cuisine, and the underlying foundation is all French technique. I'm substituting ingredients in the technique to make your taste buds taste things differently. But ultimately, when I'm making a sauce for the most part, I'm using techniques and basics that I learned at culinary school week three. And so I never tell people "Don't go to school." I never tell them that. There are plenty of people who have been successful who did not go to culinary school and went right to restaurants. And ultimately you can do it that way. But the one thing you're going to learn when you go to a restaurant is you're going to learn what those restaurant's dishes are. Those restaurant's dishes. When you go to the next restaurant, it's not going to be as easy for you to spin on your heels and start cooking somebody else's new dishes. But if you have the schooling, you'll have a leg up.
Nora Ali: That makes a whole lot of sense. Bobby, I know you said you don't love when people ask you about future food trends because who even knows? But you are involved in the food tech scene. We were chatting earlier about Marc Lore's company, Wonder. So, that's his food tech company that delivers restaurant-quality premium food to your door. And you can buy Bobby Flay's food on Wonder now, in their test areas. What gave you the confidence to offer, for example, your steaks via delivery using this Wonder technology?
Bobby Flay: Well, I had to be convinced. I'm a lucky guy, I get a lot of offers to do a lot of things with my food. And I almost never let somebody else cook my food besides my team. Now, you and I were talking before we started, Marc Lore is a very different guy. He comes from another planet, and a good planet. A planet that is incredibly successful. And he thinks along the lines that no one else does. And that's the thing I love about him. So when he said to me, "I have a food idea, but I'm not ready to talk to you about it." And then literally a year later, he called me and he said, "I'm ready to talk to you about my food idea."
Nora Ali: Wow. Wow.
Bobby Flay: And so we went to lunch or dinner and he told me about Wonder and I was in on the ground floor with him. He wanted me to be one of the first people that were involved. I thought this is going to be quite something. So I spent, I guess, close to a week with all of his food scientists and chefs, and it was an incredible experience watching these guys watch me cook, because they wanted to take everything that I did and basically break it down to the nth degree so that they could replicate it, basically in front of your house when you order it. That's basically the way it works. And they're amazing. I mean, I have to say, I was tiny bit skeptical that they could do it, but they've proven that they're doing an amazing job. And I think that this could be the future of the way we're eating at home.
Nora Ali: Wow. Wow. That's strong words from Bobby Flay, and I mean, people seem to agree. It's been valued at $3.5 billion most recently.
Bobby Flay: Is that all?
Nora Ali: So we'll see. That is nothing for Marc Lore. Okay. Bobby, before we let you go, we do have a special segment called Shoot Your Shot. So we want to know, Bobby, what is your moonshot idea, your wildest ambition, your biggest dream? It could be for your businesses, personal, for Nacho, your chance to shoot your shot.
Bobby Flay: Oh, from a business standpoint?
Nora Ali: Could be anything. Anything.
Bobby Flay: Wow. Shoot my shot. I mean, I love experiences and my favorite kind of experiences always revolve around food and cooking and eating. I mean, I think that my dream would be to have a home somewhere in Italy and sort of just cook lunch every single day for my friends and my family. I always say there are people who've become successful and they like to collect toys. Fun things that they like to buy. I like to experience things. I'm always looking for the next experience. My girlfriend is a travel writer. And so we just came back from Majorca—neither one of us had ever been there before. And I was just blown away by it. Majorca needs better PR. It's so incredible, but people always talk about Italy or France, but Majorca is spectacular. Anyway, you didn't ask me that question. I think basically I want to live in Italy at some point in my life. That's my moonshot.
Nora Ali: Amazing. Okay. The final segment is a game and it's called Bullish or Bearish. This is a business podcast, after all. So Bullish or Bearish is just a fancy way of saying, are you into the thing? Are you bullish? Or are you not? Are you bearish?
Bobby Flay: I'll just tell you this, you probably don't know this because I don't know if it's documented—
Nora Ali: You worked on Wall Street.
Bobby Flay: You got it.
Nora Ali: I know, Bobby.
Bobby Flay: You didn't bring that up. I thought for sure you guys would bring that up. I worked in a place that doesn't exist anymore. The American Stock Exchange.
Nora Ali: Oh my goodness, what happened to it?
Bobby Flay: It folded. It's a beautiful building, but they were basically trading only options there. And then as things became much more digital, it washed up. But I was a clerk in the wires with hand signals and the whole thing.
Nora Ali: Wow. Oh my gosh. I can't picture it, Bobby, but you gotta start somewhere.
Bobby Flay: Oh yeah. Oh no, no. It's the same thing, it's like working the line, it's the same thing. It's like phones in your ear and you have...We didn't even work on computers. We had Quotrons just to get the live quotes. It was crazy.
Nora Ali: Oh my gosh. I also started my career on a trading floor. So I know the hustle and bustle.
Bobby Flay: It's good training.
Nora Ali: It really is.
Bobby Flay: You learn so much. You learn so much.
Nora Ali: Yeah. You can do anything after that. Okay. So Bullish or Bearish, here we go. First one: I heard on another interview of yours that you're a big rosé guy. So are you bullish or bearish? Canned rosé/wine/cocktails. What do you think?
Bobby Flay: Bearish.
Nora Ali: Okay. Can't do rosé in a can.
Bobby Flay: There's something about opening a bottle of wine, opening and pouring it in the glass that is literally 50% of the journey. I mean, it's great.
Nora Ali: I'm going to take the other side. I'm very bullish on canned rosé. I like to pop it in my backpack, take it with me on the go in my fanny pack. I'm a to-go kind of drinker.
Bobby Flay: Okay.
Nora Ali: Oh boy. Yep. That's me.
Bobby Flay: Wow.
Nora Ali: All right.
Bobby Flay: You just told me so much about you.
Nora Ali: I know. I know. Little do you know, Bobby. Okay. Next one, Bullish or Bearish. So we had an episode a few months ago about the future of the restaurant business and we debated this topic left and right. Are you bullish or bearish on QR code menus at restaurants?
Bobby Flay: I'm tired of it. I think that experience is really important. I think that when somebody hands you a menu, whether it's in a leather-bound holder or if it's good-quality stock of paper, I think there's so much more to that than doing this on your phone. And also like you can look at the entire menu at the same time and take it in. We as restaurant owners, restaurateurs, we take painstaking moments of our life deciding on the stock of the paper, how big it's going to be. What's the size of it? What's the font of it? All of that is incredibly important. It might not immediately register with you as a customer, but all of these things...If you came to my restaurant and I opened a can of rosé and I gave you a QR code, your experience is not going to be the same as me pouring you a glass of beautiful rosé in a beautiful glass and giving you a gorgeous menu to look at. Right away, you're at a disadvantage.
Nora Ali: You're absolutely right. I have definitely ordered canned rosé from QR codes in my life, but I agree with you on the QR code thing. I like physical menus. The number of times I haven't had service or wi-fi and I can't even pull up the QR code menu, that just ruins your experience right away. Okay, I'm with you on that.
Bobby Flay: We understand that obviously for the pandemic, we needed to do it.
Nora Ali: Sure. Sure. Yes. But we can get rid of it now. Okay. Final Bullish or Bearish question. This is a topic that comes up very frequently on this podcast, and that is TikTok. And this is a product that went viral because of TikTok, and I have one purely because of TikTok. So are you bullish or bearish on air fryers?
Bobby Flay: I'm going to have to say, I don't know because I've never used one. Okay? I will say this: I've heard mixed things. At first, everybody was like, you have to use your air fryer, you have to use an air fryer. And then I've asked people, trained cooks, "Have you used an air fryer?" "Yes." "How is it?" "Ehh." So the bottom line is, I love the idea if you can air fry something and make it healthier. I mean, no question about it. And so if that technology is working, I'm sure some are better than others. If you can find a good air fryer, I'm for it.
Nora Ali: Great. Okay. For me, it's the convenience. I love my air fryer. I make everything in it. So we're going to go with neutral for air fryer for Bobby. You gotta get one.
Bobby Flay: You're giving away your entire personality in these last three questions. Well, I'm just thinking about you traveling around with cans of rosé stashed in your bag. You do like paper menus and everything you cook is an air fryer, so it kind of says...that's it, that's your profile.
Nora Ali: I'm updating my Twitter bio. Yeah, exactly, my Twitter bio. Bobby, with that, we are going to leave things there. Thank you so much for joining us on Business Casual. This was so fun.
Bobby Flay: Of course. So fun. Thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate it.
Nora Ali: This is Business Casual and I am Nora Ali. You can follow me on Twitter @NoraKAli and I would love to hear from you. If you have ideas for episodes, comments and thoughts on episodes you loved, fun segment ideas, shoot me a DM and I'll do my best to respond. You can also reach the BC team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call. That number is 862-295-1135. And if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to Business Casual on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen. And if you like the show, please leave a rating and a review. It really, really helps us. Business Casual is produced by Katherine Milsop and Bella Hutchins. Additional production, sound design and mixing by Daniel Markus. Kate Brandt is our fact checker. Sarah Singer is our VP of multimedia. Music in this episode from Daniel Markus and The Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali. Keep it business, and keep it casual.