Name at birth: Robert William Flay
New Yorker Bobby Flay is a chef, restaurant owner and star of the Food Network shows Boy Meets Grill, Bobby Flay's Throwdown and Iron Chef America. From a well-to-do family in New York, Flay is a high school drop-out who lucked into an education at New York's French Culinary Institute (his father's business partner reportedly paid the way). He worked his way up in the restaurant industry in the late 1980s, eventually becoming the executive chef at New York's Mesa Grill in 1991. A year later, he was a partner, and by 1993 he'd opened his own place. Then he moved into television, starting with Lifetime Television's The Main Ingredient with Bobby Flay in 1996. Since the late 1990s, he's been one of America's best known celebrity chefs, thanks to a series of television shows on The Food Network, a series of books -- and even a marriage (his third) to a TV star, Stephanie March (from the series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit). Flay's food specialty is called Contemporary Southwestern Cuisine (think blue corn and cilantro). His TV specialty is being a competitor in the kitchen, the kind who's not afraid to be known as a jerk. He owns restaurants in New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Georgia and The Bahamas.