Baltimore Chef Kiran Patnam Beats Bobby Flay on TV: ‘I Came Prepared’

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Chef Kiran at work on “Beat Bobby Flay.” Photo via press handout.

Chef Kiran Patnam has been eyeing a chance to face off against Bobby Flay for five years now, since he first saw “Beat Bobby Flay” on the Food Network. Last night, it finally happened on TV.

Patnam, the executive sous chef for Apropoe’s at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel in Harbor East, was picked to compete on an episode of “Beat Bobby Flay” that premiered Thursday night. He was joined by fellow culinary pro Jonathan Wu, chef and owner of Fung Tu in New York.

Patnam bested Wu in the first round. They had to present two judges with their best dish made using a secret ingredient: cockles, a type of bivalve mollusk similar to clams.

“I had never used those before, but I know they’re like little clams, and I use clams a lot,” Patnam said in a phone interview Friday.

Patnam advanced to the next round to face off against Flay himself. He relished the guest cook’s advantage of getting to pick the dish.

“I challenged him with butter chicken,” Patnam said. “That’s one of my favorite dishes and my family recipe. I’m pretty sure that he can’t reach me with that, so that was my strategy…I came prepared.”

The judges said Patnam’s dish was best, giving him the win over the Iron Chef.

Patnam said he’s been eyeing a chance to compete against Flay since 2013. He’s worked as a chef in North America and Asia for 13 years, including at luxury hotels like the Ritz-Cartlon, JW Marriott and Gaylord. He arrived in the States in 2008, he said.

Despite the show’s intense setup – the kitchens sit on a stage, with a live audience peering down while the chefs compete – Patnam said he didn’t feel any pressure because he practiced leading up to the face-off, and has competed in national chef competitions, including in his home country of India.

During the application process to get on the show, he said he told producers he was certain he could win. “I know the timing, I know what I’m doing, and I know the whole game plan.”

Baltimore diners will get to try Patnam’s cable-worthy cuisine. His restaurant, Apropoe’s, is adding butter chicken and cockles to its menu.

Patnam joins a growing list of locals who’ve graced the Food Network’s competitive programs. Tony Minadakis of Jimmy’s Seafood and Charleston’s Cindy Wolf both competed against Flay in 2017, and Laurrapin Grille executive chef Kristina Sciarra and La Chuchara sous chef Sarah Murray appeared on “Chopped” in 2016.

The Apropoe’s sous chef said he’s grateful for the appearance.

“Now with this competition, more people know me as a culinarian,” he said. “This will help our business and mean more opportunities in the future.”

Bobby Flay (left) and Patnam. Photo via press handout.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Associate Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan is Baltimore Fishbowl's associate editor. He previously covered Baltimore-area news as a web producer for Fox45/WBFF-TV. Before arriving in Baltimore, he worked as an assistant editor for CQ Researcher in Washington D.C., and a reporter for Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. Look for his freelance bylines in Baltimore City Paper and DCist.
Ethan McLeod
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