Bobby Flay Enlists Michael Symon to Reprise His Role on 'Throwdown' : 'I'm Rooting Against Him'

The best friends teamed up for Symon's new show Throwdown with Michael Symon, premiering Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on Food Network

Bobby Flay on passing the torch to Michael Symon
Photo: food network

Bobby Flay is throwing his best friend in the ring to fend for himself.

Throwdown with Michael Symon, produced by Flay's company Rock Shrimp Productions, premieres on Food Network on Tuesday. Flay enlisted his pal for the gig after hosting Throwdown himself for nine seasons starting in 2006.

"I've been talking to Michael about it for years," Flay tells PEOPLE exclusively. "He's a great guy and he's a great chef and he has a great way about him. I just thought that he'd be perfect to bring the role back."

"Michael is a sweet guy but he's also very secretly competitive," Flay adds of the Cleveland native and former co-host of The Chew.

That competitive edge will be useful in the show's unique format. In Throwdown, Symon and his culinary director Katie Pickens go against top restaurant owners in a surprise battle of each chef's signature dish. Prior to meeting, Symon doesn't know what he'll be making, and the chefs don't know Symon is coming.

The original Throwdown was the same, with hard-not-to-love campy elements sprinkled in, like the "Top Secret" package revealing the assignment to Flay in the beginning of each episode. (Flay says the show was inspired by Ashton Kutcher's Punk'D.)

This time around, Flay is purely behind the scenes. "It's Michael's show," he insists.

Still, don't let their friendship fool you, Flay wants to see Symon go down.

"I'm rooting against him. I want the people that he challenges to kick his ass. It would be good to humble him," Flay says with a laugh.

The competition series kicks off with a double episode on Tuesday, and two more episodes follow on Dec. 21. If all goes to plan though, Flay says viewers can expect "a bunch more."

"I would say that Michael fares fairly well," Flay teases of the outcome.

Bobby Flay on passing the torch to Michael Symon
food network

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Outside of the kitchen, Flay and Symon continue to go head to head in everything they do.

"We play golf a lot and we bet when we play golf — it's all about bragging rights," says the Beat Bobby Flay star. "He's the classic American guy's guy. He really is."

Throwdown with Michael Symon premieres Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 9:30 p.m. on Food Network.

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