What’s next for Food Network after losing Bobby Flay?

Starting next year, for the first time in the history of Food Network, Chef Bobby Flay will not be a part of the network’s programming. While he will still be on the network in reruns, new shows featuring the chef and restaurateur and his Southwestern inspired cuisine will be nowhere to be found.

As we reported earlier this week, this is due to Flay and Food Network not being able to come to an agreement on a new contract. The two sides were apparently pretty far apart when it comes to money and Food Network has decided to go forward without one of their most recognizable stars.

So the question now becomes whether this is such a great idea and what Food Network will become without one of the culinary stars who put the network on the television map?

In the short term it likely means we’ll be seeing even more of Guy Fieri and his armada of shows he produces for the network. With Flay gone, Fieri becomes the de facto face of Food Network and you can be sure viewers will be seeing a lot more of him going forward.

Bobby Flay leaving Food Network really is the end of an era

Which is really emblematic of one the big issues Food Network will have in a post-Bobby Flay world. And why it might be better to try and work out a deal with the iconic chef rather than let him walk away.

When was the last time Food Network had a foodie star they could call their own? Who was the last chef who broke big thanks to the exposure being on the network afforded them? I can’t think of one in the last few years, can you? Molly Yeh maybe?

That’s because most chefs who make the jump from being a chef and restauranteur to being a food personality and celebrity are doing so on shows like Top Chef. Sure, chefs such as Antonia Lofaso and Michael Voltaggio may be known to foodies now, but that’s mostly thanks to Top Chef and in a much smaller sense, appearing on Fieri’s shows, not a series of their own.

It used to be that if you wanted to transition from chef to food personality, you had to be on Food Network. You needed to have a show and you needed the promotional machine that included. But now that’s just not true.

As a result, there is really no one there to pick up Flay’s baton and be the face of the network. Because while Fieri is entertaining and funny, no one really thinks of him as a serious chef. And without a chef of Bobby Flay’s caliber, Food Network loses that sense of credibility.

It’s been bad enough that over the last few years the network has seemingly abandoned the cooking show format in favor of endless variations of the cooking competition series. While some, such as Tournament of Champions, have been a blast, others have been a complete waste of time.

Unfortunately, foodies can probably expect even more competition shows with Flay gone. In a way, the loss of Bobby Flay represents the end of what Food Network was originally all about. Cooking and the foodie lifestyle will now take a backseat (or be gone entirely) to new Baking Championship iterations and whatever Fieri can think up next.

It really is the end of a era, and I for one am pretty sad to see it happen.

What do you think Guilty Eaters? Do you think Food Network will survive the loss of Bobby Flay? Leave a comment below and let us know or join the conversation on our Facebook and Twitter pages.