Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE Images
Extra's AJ Calloway and Bobby Flay hoop it up at Chelsea Piers to practice for the McDonald's NBA Celebrity All-Star Game.
But can Flay slice and dice his opponents on a basketball court? We caught up with Flay, a former varsity basketball player at Xavier High School in New York City, as he prepared to take part in the McDonald's NBA All-Star Celebrity Game Presented by 2K Sports at 2007 All-Star in Las Vegas on Friday. We grilled Flay about his hoops skills, what he will eat for a pre-game meal and whether or not he wants to serve up some tasty chocolate truffles of trash talk ... just in case he gets cookin' during the contest.
NBA.com: I've heard you’re a pretty good player. You led the New York restaurant league in scoring in 2003.
Flay: (Laughs) Where'd you hear that?
NBA.com: I'm the James Lipton of NBA.com. We're doing our research.
Flay: Yes. (Laughs) I will confirm that that's true.
NBA.com: How'd the team do?
Flay: We were probably about a .500 team. It's funny. The restaurant league has become so competitive that all the restaurants have started hiring guys based on their basketball skills.
NBA.com: So, they'd hire these guys as bussers or something?
Flay: Right, except they went to Louisville for four years. It's a tough league.
NBA.com: Are there any other big-time chefs that we'd be surprised that could hoop it up?
Flay: Tom Colicchio [of Craft in New York City] played and Rocco DiSpirito played a couple of games, and then I think he had enough. A lot of the players were cooks, waiters, bartenders.
NBA.com: With all that's going on, you seem pretty busy. How often do you get a chance to play?
Flay: Not very often. Actually about two years ago, I stopped playing because I was afraid I was going to break an ankle or something. But the NBA is pulling me back in.
NBA.com: How can you resist, right?
NBA.com: What will you have for a pre-game meal?
Flay: Probably something simple, like a bagel and Gatorade.
NBA.com: So, you don't plan on cooking anything?
Flay: Hopefully not.
NBA.com: You have Mesa Grill in Las Vegas, will you be doing any time in the kitchen there for All-Star Weekend?
Flay: I'm actually doing very little in Las Vegas during All-Star Weekend because it's not an official work trip. It's going to be more about the NBA.
NBA.com: Besides the celeb game, what is the thing you're most looking forward to for All-Star Weekend?
Flay: I'm looking forward to the All-Star Game itself. I'm looking forward to the Three-Point shooting contest, the dunk contest. I've always watched all the events on television, to see it up close and personal should be really fun.
NBA.com: Now, All-Star Gilbert Arenas is known to yell "Hibachi" when he gets hot. You're a grill man ... would you recommend a hibachi or is there a different grill would you recommend?
Flay: Does he really do that?
NBA.com: Well, probably not as much as he did earlier in the season, but I thought I'd go to an expert...
Flay: When he starts knocking down shots? I recommend a hibachi for one person, but if you want to cook for your whole team you need a much bigger grill.
NBA.com: So, when he's hot, hibachi is appropriate?
NBA.com: OK, we were thinking of some trash talk for you to say in the Celeb League game when you get hot. You are, of course, more than welcome to use "Hibachi" (we know Gilbert and it's not trademarked), but we thought you needed your own. Tell us what you think of the following:
NBA.com: Too hot? Too French?
Flay: Too French.
NBA.com: "Sugar on your Cheerios," like when you hit a shot in someone's face.
Flay: A little too sweet.
NBA.com: "Do you want the sizzle or do you want the steak?"
Flay: (Laughs) I kinda like that one.
NBA.com: OK, good. We have one more: "Bam!"
Flay: I think we'll skip that one.
NBA.com: Good, we won't co-opt that one.
Flay: I think that one is trademarked.
NBA.com: If you had to challenge one of the U.S. Iron Chefs to a game of hoops, who would you challenge and what would the final score be, say, up to 11?
Flay: I would have to choose Iron Chef Morimoto. We've had so many good battles before, he's so unpredictable.
NBA.com: As a chef, you're known for your grill work. What would you say your special move is on the basketball floor?
Flay: I like the Earl Monroe spin move.
NBA.com: And since you have a show called "Throwdown" we have to ask, who will win the dunk contest?
Flay: Nate Robinson. I've gotta go with my Knicks.