BY JO PIAZZA | August 12, 2010 | People
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IT SHOULD COME AS NO SURPRISE that Bobby Flay’s favorite room in his family’s new home in Amagansett is the kitchen. Both kitchens. That’s right: Flay and wife Stephanie March’s dream country house, nestled deep in the woods and built by East Hampton architect Larry Kane, has two fully functioning kitchens, one indoor and one outdoor. “There’s nothing in the house that’s supposed to make people go, ‘Wow,’ except for the kitchens,” says Flay.
As if those weren’t impressive enough, the couple is hoping the house will be Gold LEED-certified as a green home—March’s favorite element, since she isn’t often in the kitchen. “Stephanie cooks every year for my birthday and about a dozen times other than that, which I love because it’s always a surprise when I walk in and she’s in an apron—and it’s always delicious,” says Flay. “She said to me, ‘I’m not building this house unless we’re incredibly thoughtful about it,’ and Larry was so into it. People talk about green this and green that, but really, it just comes down to what’s right and what’s common sense.”
The house is tucked away in the woods on purpose; while Flay and March both love the Hamptons, they both possess skin tones ill-suited for the sun. “I’m not a sun god, I can tell you that much. My skin is as white as can be,” says Flay. “I like the quiet of the Hamptons because I’m a city boy, and when I go out, I like to be surrounded by trees. You roll up to this house and it isn’t some gigantic McMansion. For Stephanie and me, the most important thing was comfort and functionality.”
They broke ground in October 2009, and Kane had them ready to move the furniture in by August 1—plenty of time for Flay to plan his Labor Day parties and show off his two new epicurean epicenters, the description of which is filled with more cooking porn than anything you’ll see on the Food Network.
The indoor kitchen is full of Viking appliances and has eight burners, a salamander (a broiler that heats intensely from above), a deep fryer and some cold marble to roll out dough. “Inside it’s like a little French café, with a giant marble island and a café area with some tables and rattan chairs. Then you walk through a big door into the outdoor kitchen area. When it’s all open, you feel like you’re walking through a restaurant,” Flay says with glee.
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Outside there’s a brick pizza oven, a charcoal grill, a Viking gas grill, four burners and a refrigeration system. It’s a lot, but it was worth every penny for the celebrity chef. After all, he loves doing what he does as much in the privacy of his own home as he does on television.
Flay was one of the forefathers of the celebrity-chef movement, but becoming a television personality was never something he aspired to. “When I started cooking, it was only thought of as a blue-collar profession,” says the star of Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. “There was no Food Network. Back then the dream was to open one—maybe two—restaurants.” He’s now the owner and executive chef of 11 establishments, including Mesa Grill in Las Vegas, New York and Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas; Bar Americain in New York and Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut; Bobby Flay Steak in Atlantic City; and five Bobby’s Burger Palaces. Flay has also hosted seven shows on the Food Network and this winter will be a judge, investor and mentor on NBC’s new reality competition, America’s Next Great Restaurant.
“The show is based on the idea that everyone at some point has said, ‘I have a great idea for a restaurant,’” Flay explains. “It could be anybody, from a schoolteacher to a food professional. We’re looking for the next best restaurant concept in the quick and casual market.”
Even though Flay has been cooking on television since 1996, he still gets jittery before stepping in front of the cameras. “I get nervous every time, every single time,” he says. “But it’s a good nervous, and I think it’s important. It helps me keep my edge. I think if you ever get too comfortable in front of a camera, you have a tendency to phone it in.”
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It’s advice he inherited from March, his wife of five years and a small-screen veteran best known for her role as assistant district attorney Alexandra Cabot on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. They met on a blind date arranged by her SVU costar Mariska Hargitay in 2001; Flay proposed in 2003 while the pair was ice-skating in Rockefeller Center.
Flay is well aware that his romance with March reads like a fairy tale. And it makes their green castle in the woods quite appropriate.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEPHAN WÜRTH
Styling by Bernardo Siatong at Stockland Martel
Grooming by Dahlia Warner
Photographed on location at Fairview Farm, Bridgehampton
Special thanks to Harry Ludlow