Chef Bobby Flay’s choice to leave Food Network may have been the finest financial move he’s ever made.
The celebrity chef has been an anchor on the channel since its inception 27 years ago, but he is allegedly considering leaving due to delayed wage discussions, which might result in his departing for another network or streaming platform at the end of the year.
There is yet hope. Flay remains at Food Network, where Forbes says he earns seven figures. However, he might go to a streaming service, where remuneration for artists has soared in recent years. Streamers such as Netflix, Hulu, HBOMax, and Amazon, as well as recent entrants like Discovery+ and Peacock, have altered the power relationships between TV networks and their hosts. Hosts may now switch platforms and double or treble their earnings. WME, Flay’s agency, declined to comment, citing a policy of not commenting on current talks, but if recent agreements are any indicator, Flay might earn a contract for up to $100 million.
He might be able to squeeze it out of his long-term professional residence as well: In May, Forbes reported that Food Network star Guy Fieri had signed a three-year contract for $80 million, which is far more than the average compensation for the network’s top hosts.
Fieri, one of the first hosts to resume filming during the epidemic, is one of the network’s most popular in terms of ad money. Fieri has 1.8 million Instagram followers, while Flay has 1.6 million. Fieri has 3.4 million followers on Twitter, while Flay has 2.6 million.
Fieri now earns about $26 million per year, which is comparable to what top culinary celebrities earn from streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. Off-air star chef Emeril Lagasse’s largest Food Network contract is reported to have paid him about $8 million in the early 2000s, with top talent on the network’s HGTV and flagship shows. Salaries at Food Network parent company Discovery Channel are often in the seven-figure range these days.
Fieri, who is tattooed and goateed, is now the Discovery network’s highest-paid celebrity, surpassing The Pioneer Woman’s Ree Drummond and earning more than Chip and Joanna Gaines did as HGTV’s top stars. Fieri did not respond to a request for comment.
According to Forbes, the world’s highest-paid restauranteur, Gordon Ramsay, makes around $20 million per year from Fox series like Masterchef, which account for more than 75 hours of programming and more than $150 million in ad revenue for Fox. Ramsay made $70 million in total, but more than two-thirds of it came from his 35 restaurants across the world and other partnerships. In 2020, he will be the 19th highest-paid celebrity in the United States. Flay was included on Forbes’ list of the top celebrity earners in 1999, with a net worth of $2 million.