"All of a sudden, it was like I was playing at Yankee Stadium," Flay reminisced about the time Mesa opened.
Two or three years later, a fledgling channel called the Food Network came calling. It was a unique opportunity, and Flay capitalized on it.
"They had no money to fly people in, so if you could get there by subway, you could get on a show," said Flay. "A lot of chefs didn't want to do it. I'm like, 'Well, you guys are missing the point, because every time I'm on TV, I'm gonna get people to understand that I own a restaurant, and I'm gonna put more a--es in the seats.' I came up with my own show ideas. I created 'Throwdown' and 'Beat Bobby Flay.'"