BBQ Brawl: Flay vs. Symon premiere review: Delicious food with a side of banter


The grill is lit and the BBQ Brawl Flay vs. Symon is on. Which Food Network chef will lead their barbecue masters to victory?

If you watched the BBQ Brawl Flay vs. Symon premiere on Food Network, you were in for a treat. While these two celebrity chefs and their teams compete, the amazing barbecue dishes were served with a side dish of some entertaining smack talk.

Food Network has many cooking competition shows. While the baking competition shows appeal with their visually stunning desserts and the Worst Cooks entertain with the epic fails, this new show entices with the epic banter between Bobby and Michael.

Since these two chefs are good friends, they tend to smack talk like two brothers. That bond runs deep, but they really know how to push each other’s buttons. The one-liners and quips make this first episode must watch food television. If you didn’t laugh at, “why don’t you go sit down with your spatchcocked chicken” you might not be a foodie.

But, this competition isn’t just about the Bobby vs. Michael rivalry. It is a culinary competition for some very well established chefs. The eight chefs have numerous accolades, have decades of experience and definitely have earned their spot in the competition.

The BBQ Brawl Flay vs. Symon premiere episode opens with each competitor creating their best backyard barbecue bite. Basically, they are introducing themselves to Bobby and Michael in a single bite. These type of challenges are always difficult.

Bobby and Michael would use these dishes to help guide their team choices. But, nothing is ever that simple in a Food Network competition. It wasn’t like they were going to rock, paper, scissors for who picks first. They had a cooking challenge.

Bobby and Michael had their own backyard barbecue battle. With three expert judges on the panel, the two celebrity chefs had to create a chicken dish that reflects their backyard barbecue.

Michael draws inspiration from his mom. His Greek influenced spatchcocked chicken with blackberry fennel salad sounds bright and refreshing. While there was concern that the chicken would cook in time, but Michael served a delightful, juicy chicken.

Bobby went Asian with his chicken. The Korean style barbecue chicken really brought the heat. It was bold and offered that barbecue char.

For the home cook, there were a few good tips in this challenge. Did you catch the comment about cooking the chicken skin side down to render it? That tip can make a huge difference in your barbecue chicken.

In the end, the judges choose Bobby’s dish as the winner. He gets first pick for his team. So much for Michael saying that he was going to “Beat Bobby Flay.”

Bobby’s team includes Joe, Tuffy, Lea Ann and Phil, picked in that order. Michael’s team includes Carey, Lynnae, Kevin and Susie, picked in that order. But, one chef from each team will be eliminated by the end of the episode.

To determine who moves on and who is eliminated, the eight chefs must create a backyard barbecue dish and a side. Some chefs looked to be ambitious and others decided to go with dishes that they could execute. Unfortunately, a few chefs were not barbecue strong.

Looking at the different dishes, it is clear that barbecue is a very diverse label. While each chef cooked with flame or smoke, the flavors were all very, very different. This situation shows that these chefs have a tremendous amount of cooking knowledge.

Chefs Michael Symon & Bobby Flay taste contestants Mini Challenge Cook, as seen on BBQ BRAWL Flay V Symon, Season 1 photo provided by Food Network

Although, it was curious that Bobby and Michael were providing cooking advice during the challenge. All of these professional chefs have tons of accolades. It was unusual to think that they would struggle cooking sweet potatoes on a grill.

In the end, four chefs were up for elimination, two chef from each team. For Bobby’s team, Tuffy and Joe were in the bottom two.

Joe, who was the first pick, suffered from lack of flavor. He didn’t add a lot of the sherry reduction because he feared that it would be too strong. Unfortunately, the judges felt that the dish needed a bigger punch of flavor.

Tuffy’s dish suffered from a cooking error. His pork was over. While his sides were tasty, the judges don’t want to see a technical mistake.

In the end, Bobby’s team lost Joe. It will be curious to see if a flavor issue trumps execution in future episodes.

Up for elimination on Michael’s team was Carey and Kevin. The judges criticized Carey for an under-seasoned dish. Kevin’s issue was that he was too ambitious. Trying to make ribs tender in the limited time frame was almost impossible.

Unlike the other elimination, the judges choose to eliminate Kevin. They could not overlook the tough ribs in a barbecue brawl.

After watching this first episode, Food Network fans should definitely watch this show. It offers a delightful blend of cooking tips and amusing banter between Bobby and Michael. While both chefs want to win, the good natured spirit of the competition is clear.

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What did you think of the BBQ Brawl Flay vs. Symon premiere? Which team to you think will be BBQ strong?