AP NEWS

Bobby Flay beat chef Johnny Hernandez

May 6, 2019

Hometown hero Johnny Hernandez was the latest San Antonio chef to appear on the Food Network show “Beat Bobby Flay,” and also the latest to watch Flay claim victory.

San Antonio is 0-for-4. At this point, it’s safe to say Bobby Flay has San Antonio’s number.

In a last-minute change, Hernandez’s anticipated May 9 appearance on the show was shuffled by the network to 9 p.m. May 5 to coincide with Cinco de Mayo. Hernandez gathered with supporters Sunday night at his Southtown restaurant Burgerteca for a hastily rescheduled viewing party.

The contest started out well enough. The show’s format pits two visiting chefs against each other in a challenge to make best use of a specific ingredient, with the victor challenging Flay to a cook-off of their signature dish. In the opening round Hernandez bested New Jersey chef Coby Farrow in a bluefish battle by preparing a vibrant mole verde.

Hernandez stuck with Mexican flavors against Flay by throwing down a shrimp taco gauntlet. Hernandez won over the televised studio audience and his assembled supporters with techniques and flavors traditional to Veracruz: he sauteed onions in lard to form a flavorful base for refried beans and made an adobo sauce from scratch to great applause.

But Hernandez and Flay were cooking for judges, not fans. And when those judges were presented with the finished plates, Flay’s taco made with shrimp fried in a crispy rice flour batter and slathered with chipotle mayonnaise dealt Hernandez’s dish the death blow.

Hernandez laughed off the loss. He’s in good company, after all: fellow San Antonio chefs Steve McHugh of Cured; Jason Dady of Range, Shuck Shack, Two Bros. BBQ Market, among others; and Geronimo López of Botika have all been bested by Flay on the show.

“I had a great time, and I think it’s great exposure for San Antonio,” Hernandez said.

Flay is not completely invincible against San Antonians. He lost a 2007 puffy taco cook-off against Diana Barrios Treviño at La Hacienda de Los Barrios in a different show, “Throwdown with Bobby Flay,” which ceased production in 2010.

Paul Stephen is a food and drink reporter and restaurant critic in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | pstephen@express-news.net | Twitter: @pjbites | Instagram: @pjstephen