Bobby Flay discovered his culinary identity at 17 working as a cook at Joe Allen’s. Allen was so impressed with Flay that he paid the young cook’s tuition to The French Culinary Institute. Chef Flay first discovered the sweet heat of Southwestern ingredients working with Jonathan Waxman at Buds and Jams. Jerome Kretchmer offered Bobby Flay an opportunity at Mesa Grill, which opened in 1991.