Flay doesn't spend much time in the kitchen any more, but chances are one of his half-dozen television shows is probably on the Food Network right now.
Flay dropped out of Chelsea's Xavier High School and took his first job in the restaurant industry at the theater district spot Joe Allen. By the late 1980s, Flay caught the attention of Jerome "Jerry" Kretchmer, the restaurant impresario behind Gotham Bar and Grill. With financing from Kretchmer, Flay opened Mesa Grill in 1991; a year later, New York's Gael Greene had proclaimed it restaurant of the year. He turned into a dining star shortly thereafter thanks to a dozen books and a bazillion hours on the Food Network. Over the past decade, he's created half a dozen TV shows and made countless appearances on other food TV programs (like Iron Chef).
Flay's ubiquity on the TV dial has earned him the usual detractors, many of whom find his on-camera persona arrogant and obnoxious. And like any chef with an oversized ego, Flay has used his celebrity status to pursue global culinary domination. He opened the Mesa Grill Las Vegas in Caesar's Palace in 2004 and has tackled fast food with the Bobby's Burger Palace chain.
Flay is on his third marriage. The first and second wives, Debra Ponzek and Kate Connelly, were both minor culinary figures. In 2005, he tied the knot with Stephanie March, formerly a cast member of Law & Order: SVU. [Image via Getty]