Myers + Chang Chef to Battle Bobby Flay

Karen Akunowicz is going to compete on Flay's new Food Network cooking competition.

Karen Akunowicz

Myers + Chang executive chef Karen Akunowicz/Photo by The Food Network


Food Network and Bobby Flay are entering the reality cooking competition genre starting this spring, and Myers + Chang executive chef Karen Akunowicz will be one of its inaugural contestants.

Beat Bobby Flay will borrow aspects of Top Chef‘s quickfire formula by pitting two chefs against each other in a timed, 20-minute showdown. The head-to-head  battle will focus on one mystery ingredient that the contestants will feature in an improvised entree. Results will be judged by celebrity personalities like Anne Burrell, Giada De Laurentiis, and Mo Rocca. Whoever wins goes on to face Flay himself in a challenge featuring the guest chef’s signature dish.

The debut episode, titled “The Farmer and the Belle,” will air on March 6 at 10 p.m./ET on Food Network. Akunowicz will be challenged by Matthew Raiford, the executive chef of Gilliard Farm in Brunswick, Georgia. Although Akunowicz couldn’t disclose any details about the episode—including what she would deem her “signature dish”—she admitted to having a great time filming the show in December.

“Working with Bobby Flay was awesome,” says Akunowicz. “It was completely nerve-racking, but it was just great to cook with him on the same set. During the show we had some great banter and plenty of laughs. I was so nervous when they [The Food Network] contacted me about appearing on it, but it ended up being such a fantastic experience. It’s just exciting to be on the first episode of a brand-new series.”

*Update: Another local chef will be competing on Beat Bobby Flay this month. Brian Young, chef de cuisine at Post 390 will face off against Steven McHugh, chef and owner of Cured in San Antonio, Texas. The Food Network is calling the episode “The Fighting Irish” and it will air on March 20 at 10 p.m./ET. Young was honored as a Zagat “30 Under 30 Rising Star”  and was recently victorious in The Salty Pig’s Porkapalooza, with his Thai Style Pork Ribs dish, now on the Tavern menu at Post 390.