Bobby Flay would like you to know that, in addition to owning a slew of successful restaurants and appearing on hit TV shows, he is also the World’s Greatest Cat Buddy. The object of his affection is an orange Maine Coon named Nacho, which the chef acquired after the opening of his New York City restaurant Gato a few years ago. As the story goes, Flay named the restaurant Gato — the Spanish word for “cat” — because an adorable orange kitty crossed his path as he was looking at the restaurant’s space for the first time. It’s a good origin story that inextricably links the chef and his very successful restaurant to an auspicious cat. But this is actually not where Flay’s feline obsession began.
As an only child, Flay thought of his family cats as siblings, of sorts. “Until I moved out of my Mom’s house at 19, these felines were part of my every day and night,” he explains on CBS Sunday Morning. As is often the case with celebrities and their childhood cronies, Flay turned his back on his old friends once fame started knocking on his door. Now, after a 30-year “drought,” the chef says that he’s fully back in the cat zone: “[W]hat I was really nervous about was handling the responsibility of taking care of a new kitten — and making a 15-20 year commitment to a living, breathing creature. Well, I’m back in.”
Flay’s cat Nacho can open doors and he plays fetch, just like a dog. Sometimes, when the cameras are rolling, the chef and his feline friend even make Nacho’s namesake dish together:
Nacho the cat is also internet-famous because he has his own Instagram account, which currently boasts more than 100K followers. It’s unclear who posts images to this account, but it’s probably not managed by either Flay, who’s super busy being on TV and running restaurants, or Nacho, who lacks opposable thumbs.
Flay’s name has been popping up in gossip rags like Page Six and People ever since he divorced his third wife, actress Stephanie March, and started a new relationship with Masters of Sex actress Helene Yorke. Close followers of Flay’s social media channels may remember that the chef once had a different Maine Coon cat, Taco, which also had its own Instagram account. That kitty is still the star of his own dedicated feed, but Bobby is no longer part of it, and the photos often feature cameos from March — which can only mean that Flay lost Taco and his Instagram account in the divorce.
No matter what is happening in his career or personal life, Flay says that his new pal Nacho is always there for him: “He travels with me almost wherever I go and, most importantly, shows me his love and affection constantly.”