Kennebunk chef tries to Beat Bobby Flay

Contestant Shanna O'Hea competes on Food Network's Beat Bobby Flay

O’Hea whips up a signature dish to Beat Bobby Flay. Her Food Network appearance airs May 7th. Photo courtesy of the Food Network

She’s been Chopped, wowed judges on Rewrapped with a Chef Boyaredee-inspired crumble cake (it was tasty). Now Shanna O’Hea of Academe Brasserie in Kennebunk takes her talents a step further as she tries to beat Bobby Flay.

On Thursday May 7th, the owner of The Kennebunk Inn squares spatulas with Kathy Cary (a James Beard-nominated chef from Kentucky) on the popular Food Network show “Beat Bobby Flay.” The Mother’s Day episode “Any Given Sunday” has the chefs whipping up a dish on the spot with a mystery ingredient.

“I had a lot to do in a short amount of time. You push yourself as hard as you can,” said O’Hea, who is under a gag order to keep the ingredient and her status a secret. If she bested Cary, O’Hea would take on the top toque herself.

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Regulars who have inhaled her succulent lobster pot pie in her casual tavern know the answer. Still, the seasoned chef discovered that cooking under fire in front of a live audience is no cake walk.

“I was flipped out thinking the crowd would heckle me,” said O’Hea. “But they were shouting and rooting me on.”

The show was taped in January in New York City. Chefs Geoffrey Zakarian and Chris Santos of Chopped judged the dueling cooks’ first round.

Though these high-wattage appearances take time, planning, energy and distance from her restaurant, she tends to go for them when contacted.

“I have a competitive side. I was an athlete growing up. This lets you do something with food in a whole different way. It challenges you.”

O’Hea is not the first Greater Portland female chef to take on Bobby Flay. Last spring Shannon Bard of Zapoteca went on the show. Sadly Bard lost to the Flayster. Will O’Hea fare better?

“I made some mistakes for sure. The timing was 20 minutes and I didn’t factor in the plating. It’s intimidating. You are always editing yourself. I did learn something … I wish I could tell you.”

Did she learn that Flay can be filleted with a dose of Dirigo special sauce?

We will be glued to the set next week to find out. “I made Maine proud,” said O’Hea, who won’t come home with a wad of cash if she wins. Just “bragging rights that you beat Bobby Flay.”

And a steady line spilling out onto her wooden porch and Main Street all summer long. #success

Tune into Beat Bobby Flay 10 p.m. May 7th for O’Hea’s appearance.

 

 

Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.