Let us face it, celebrity chef Bobby Flay is incredibly good. He can whip up outstanding dishes and can do it with strange ingredients or when competing on the highest level of Iron Chef.

What I admire about Bobby Flay is that he steps up, puts himself out there and competes with national, international, and local chefs. He is always up to a challenge and depending on who he competes against will graciously accept defeat and heap praise on his formidable opponent.

Bobby Flay’s Throw Down series takes Bobby all around the country and pits himself against the best local talent cooking the dish that the local talent is best known for.

Bobby ran into two outstanding New Jersey competitors, which resulted in his defeat. I am fortunate to know them both.

Butch Lupinetti was a great chef and grill master. Butch won awards for his barbecue throughout the country. He competed in the NJ State Barbecue Championships in North Wildwood where I was fortunate to meet him, interview him and taste his award-winning ribs. They were the best I ever tasted, and I have had ribs at the best rib joints across this country.

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Photo by Emerson Vieira on Unsplash
Photo by Emerson Vieira on Unsplash

Butch credits his homemade barbecue sauce “Smack your Lips” for the very flavorful taste of his ribs. He mass-produced his sauce and I used to go down to his home in Mt. Laurel to pick it up a case or two.

I get a call from Butch, and he says that Bobby Flay is coming down to Mt. Laurel for a barbecue rib-off and Bobby is going to challenge Butch. He asked me if I would come down. Are you kidding, I was there but stayed out of the way and the shots so that Butch’s friends and family would enjoy the spotlight.

Butch did his thing and cooked a bunch of racks and used that magnificent sauce, and Bobby Flay was sweating, slapping on his homemade sauce and the competition was on.

The judges tasted, commented, and marked their scorecards. My man Butch brought down Bobby Flay for the win. It was great. We all had a sample and I drove him smiling and proud of Butch for representing Jersey so well.

Photo by Egor Gordeev on Unsplash
Photo by Egor Gordeev on Unsplash

It was a few years later that Butch passed away. In true Lupinetti form his young daughter Ally stepped up and took over the family business which still thrives today. I am a huge fan of Ally and her conviction of hard work and continued success.

Drew’s Bayshore Bistro is on my top five restaurants to go to in New Jersey. That is a big statement for me to make but one I stick by.

Drew Araneo and his wife Tracey and son Andrew cook up the best Cajun and American cuisine you will find here in New Jersey, in fact I will throw in New Orleans too, and they do it from their new location in their hometown of Keyport, NJ.

One of my favorite dishes is their Voodoo Shrimp. I have begged, plied Drew with Bourbon and connived to get the famous Voodoo Shrimp recipe.

No luck, I respect that.

Photo by Anthony Camp on Unsplash
Photo by Anthony Camp on Unsplash

I have ordered trays of Voodoo Shrimp as an appetizer for my Thanksgiving dinner. My family is obsessed, and we had to move the time of our Thanksgiving dinner later because everybody was full of the Voodoo Shrimp.

Bobby Flay heard about Drew’s and came ready to compete against Drew and his legendary dish. While I was not there, reports and footage showed a very enthusiastic Keyport crowd.

They cheered Drew on, and he went to work. Bobby made a dish that he admits was not sure what to call it and after tasting Drew’s Voodoo Shrimp Bobby said that “I’m going to lose.” He did. Drew was rightly crowned the champion that day and Bobby was gracious and complimentary on the great dish.

Drew worked hard and it paid off for another Jersey win.

We must have scared Bobby here in New Jersey. We have talented chefs/owners at Jersey restaurants that would give him a run for the money. Wonderful job.

Don't get fooled: Here's 24 scam texts I received in just one month

Although some may be humorous, others appear legit. Here are 24 texts I received in just one month's time, as well as one I'm surprised I never got.

Spam texts are listed in the same order that was received.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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