Bobby Flay Shares How To Host A BBQ And Still Enjoy The Fun - Exclusive Interview

With multiple restaurants and acclaims under his belt, it's fair to say Bobby Flay is an excellent source of culinary wisdom and tips. While his repertoire is vast, there's no denying Flay's talent on the grill, as evidenced on "Grill It! with Bobby Flay," "Grilling For Life," and numerous other occasions. This summer, he's partnering with Pepsi for the ultimate grilling experience, otherwise known as Grills Night Out. The campaign features several ads highlighting Pepsi as the perfect pairing for a grill fest, and it's hard to argue otherwise. 

Flay appears in one of the ads chopping veggies, flipping burgers, cracking open a cold can of Pepsi, and sharing food with friends. The chef will continue to show up throughout the summer in a series of tutorials promoted by Pepsi, offering tricks for perfecting your grilling game. We spoke with Bobby Flay to get some hot tips for a summer of grilling, as well as his favorite ways to pair the newest Pepsi flavors: peach and lime. With the outdoor dining season imminent, it's time to heat up the grill and invite some friends over for a feast. 

Setting the story straight about beef doneness

Your new Pepsi grilling ads definitely put me in the spirit for grilling, so thanks for that! You have shared before that you like your steaks and burgers cooked medium. Do you have other hot grilling takes to share with our audience?

I mean, it's so funny, everybody is talking about that. Be careful what you ask for, right? All I said was I like to eat my burgers medium and people got crazy about it.

It's a big thing.

But do you know why I said that?

Yeah, you explained that the fat melts and then it adds lots of juiciness and flavor to the burger, which is an interesting point. And medium rare steak can be quite chewy, so I get that.

I will tell you that I feel like there's been all this peer pressure for people to order their meats rare and medium rare and they don't really want it that way. Some people do. But I have so many people saying to me, 'I am so glad that you said it because I felt the same way my whole life.' I just thought it was kind of funny to talk about.

But anyway, listen, the bottom line is you can eat your meats cooked however you want them. As a chef and as somebody who owns restaurants, that's just the way it is. I mean, the customer can have whatever they want. I'm not going to tell people how they need to have their meat cooked. Whatever suits your taste is fine with me. I was just trying to make a point that for my taste, there are certain things that have to happen a little bit past medium rare. That's it. No big deal.

Bobby's tips for hosting a BBQ without missing out on the fun

How do you like to cook in the summertime?

So listen, the summertime is a big deal for me in terms of cooking. I cook at home all the time, especially in the summer. I have a house that a lot of my friends descend upon all summer long. I literally run a hotel, which is totally fine. And listen, I love to cook. So even when I'm not working, so to speak, I'm cooking at home. It's the way I like to relax and show my adoration for my friends and my family, is by cooking for them.

In the summertime, I try to make things as easy as possible so that I can also enjoy myself while I'm getting all the food out but also making people happy, and so I always cook family style. It's really important that I have a couple of different things going on at the same time, because not everybody eats the same thing or some people are vegetarian or allergic to this or that. In the restaurants now, every table, there's a food aversion of some sort. 

You have to have sort of a variety and an abundance of variety. I make burger bars and taco bars where I'm making all these different components and then I let people make their own as they go through it. And it makes it really fun, it makes it really casual. I can still do it in my bathing suit, and I find it to be incredibly satisfying for everybody.

The tantalizing combination of a cold Pepsi with barbecue

How does this new partnership go along with your cooking?

So when Pepsi called me and asked me to partner with them, I was just like, this is so perfect. Especially with these new flavors, because the lime and peach, those are ingredients that I use all summer long. I cook a lot of spicy food, southwestern Mexican inspired foods, those are my ingredients. Lots of chili peppers, lots of herbs, cilantro, basil, corn of every iteration. And of course citrus; I use lime in so many things. So I'm totally digging this new lime flavor a lot.

And then on the peach side, to me it's low and slow barbecue, like classic American barbecue where it's slow roasted brisket and smoked chickens, pulled pork. I actually make a barbecue sauce with grilled peaches in it. So I was like, these guys must be reading my cookbooks. That's how they're coming up with these flavors, because it hit me right between the eyes.

Is there a burger topping or garnish that you would pair with the Pepsi lime?

Honestly, any kind of salsa, relish, guacamole, anything along those lines, I'm using a ton of lime in it. One of the things that I do that a lot of people don't do is I use a lot of zest from the lime. Lime juice is delicious and the limes come with the zest for free and people don't use it. There's tons of flavor there and it gives it that really great burst of lime flavor.

So when you think about drinking Pepsi, which has this caramel flavor to it, and you pair it with something that's acidic like lime, it makes perfect sense. That's sort of the key to all my food, the way I balance flavors and sort of create this juxtaposition of acidic and spicy and sweet and fruity and all these things that become these layers of flavors. Otherwise, if it all tastes the same or is all the same texture, it's not that fun to eat.

Yeah, for sure.

Easy ideas for your next Pepsi-fueled BBQ

Aside from setting up a burger bar or taco bar when you're having friends over, is there an inexpensive cut of meat that you opt for if you're feeding a big crowd?

Yeah, two things: chicken thighs, for sure, delicious. I like chicken thighs over chicken breasts all day long. Way more flavor. And then on the beef side, I love skirt steak. I love it. A lot of chefs will tell you that skirt steak is their favorite. It's got tons of flavor, it's economical. It's pretty easy to cook, you can get a really great crust on it. It absorbs really big flavors as well. Skirt steak is key. So chicken thighs, skirt steak, you're good.

Nice selection. You mentioned corn too, do you have a fun topping you like for grilled corn?

For grilled corn, I almost always either make an emulsified vinaigrette with fresh basil and garlic, or like a compound butter, where I take unsalted butter, put it in a food processor, and you can put chilies in there, or roasted shallots, all kinds of savory ingredients, or herbs like cilantro and lime — butter goes incredibly nice. If you want something spicy, you can make a hot sauce butter and just take your favorite hot sauce with some butter, some salt and pepper, give it a turn in the food processor. And you can actually do it ahead of time, and it freezes really well too. So when the corn comes off the grill and it's still hot, then you slather that butter on there, it's delicious.

Oh, yum, I'll have to try that. In the Pepsi realm, are there any cocktails you're looking forward to making? Maybe a Pepsi peach and bourbon drink?

I'll tell you the peach, to me it's like Pepsi peach with bourbon goes really well. I actually really like bourbon. I would say maybe you take some bourbon, lots of ice, some of the peach Pepsi, and then maybe some fresh ginger, delicious. So the ginger and the peach and the bourbon go really nicely together.

Follow @Pepsi on X, Threads, Instagram, and TikTok to stay tuned for more from Bobby Flay's series of grilling advice for the Grills Night Out campaign.