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Bobby Flay unquestionably knows a thing or two about food culture and prepping quality cuisine. In addition to being a mainstay on the Food Network for over 25 years, he has opened a variety of restaurants with locations spanning New York to Vegas and written 14 cookbooks.
But Flay’s much more than a chef, restaurateur, author, and television personality: He’s a cat person. The celebrity chef was born into a household that included many felines and has chosen to continue the company into adulthood. Today, Flay is dad to Nacho and Stella, two Maine Coons, a breed known mostly for their exceptional size. His latest venture reflects their equally colossal appetite.
Last year, Flay launched a premium pet food line named Made by Nacho. The company offers wet cat food, dry kibble, and freeze-dried protein treats — all of which are passionately curated by the famed chef himself. He even enlisted the help of his own cats’ personal veterinarian, Dr. Katja Lang, to guarantee Made by Nacho’s quality nutrition. Flay recently served The Wildest a few insights on the brand’s evolution, his pets’ personalities, and why Nacho got the naming rights for the brand over Stella.
Be honest: Did you start Made by Nacho because cooking for humans had become too easy, à la Michael Jordan leaving the NBA to play baseball?
I started Made by Nacho because my cats are as important to me as all of the humans I feed in one way or another every day. I wasn’t happy with what was available, so with Nacho’s inspiration we created a cat food for cats.
Tell me about Nacho — how did he come into your life?
Nacho entered my home when he was just 16 weeks old. He was born in New Jersey and we’ve been besties ever since.
Nacho’s personality on Instagram is assertive, a little sassy, and food obsessed. How does this reflect what he’s like IRL?
You’ve captured Nacho’s personality perfectly. He’s definitely demanding for what he wants — usually food — but he’s also the sweetest cat ever. He’s an amazing big brother to Stella and is incredibly affectionate.
Nacho is a Maine Coon, one of the largest cat breeds. Do you ever face any unique challenges as a result of his size?
I love the Maine Coon breed. They are known as the “Gentle Giants.” Even though they are big cats, they are incredibly nimble. The only issue is making sure I have a big enough cat carrier for them when we travel together. Otherwise, it’s like having a small lion in the house.
Have you always cooked and prepped food for your cats?
Sometimes I cook for them as a treat, but mostly I’m looking for a well-balanced diet and that’s what Made by Nacho offers. So, now I just open a pouch of his food!
Why was having the help of Nacho’s vet, Dr. Lang, crucial in developing Made by Nacho’s recipes?
Having a vet on board was important to me. We want to be as helpful to all cats’ health as we can be. Dr. Lang has been Nacho’s vet his whole life, so it was an easy pick.
Nacho also has a sister, Stella — ever sense any jealousy that he’s the one who got the food brand?
Stella is getting involved more and more as Made by Nacho grows. I think of her as one of the younger Kardashian sisters. She’ll have her moment!
Cats are traditionally fickle about food. Ever cook up any recipes you love that Nacho was less than impressed by?
There have been plenty of recipes that didn’t get by the Nacho and Stella taste test. They have seriously good pallets.
Made by Nacho’s products feature proteins that are either cage-free, grass-fed, or sustainably caught without any hormones or antibiotics. Did you always want to highlight environmental ethics with the brand?
At Made by Nacho, we do our best to make sure we can deliver the best-sourced ingredients that make sense for cats. Impeccable sourcing and the issues of the environment are everyday conversations at our company.
You’ve mentioned a few times that you don’t ever plan to expand Made by Nacho with dog food. How can we change your mind?
Made by Nacho is cat-focused because, in many ways, cats have been the second thought when it comes to pets. Cat parents everywhere have been thanking us for focusing on felines. We don’t have any plans at the moment to create dog food, but we’ll leave that decision up to the boss himself — he’s the one with the orange fur coat.
What’s next for Made By Nacho?
Ultimately, we want to be the answer for everything cat. We are creating solution-based recipes for cats that have special dietary needs, and a host of new flavors, textures, and recipes.
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Sean Zucker is a writer whose work has been featured in Points In Case, The Daily Drunk, Posty, and WellWell. He has an adopted Pit Bull named Banshee whose work has been featured on the kitchen floor and has behavioral issues rival his own.