Q: Lately I’ve noticed that Bobby Flay on Food Network is no longer wearing his wedding ring. Is he divorced now? And what happened to the network’s Marcela Valladolid on “The Kitchen”?
N.C., of Fairview Heights
A: I guess I have to break the bad news that the third time wasn’t the charm for Bobby Flay.
Although it lasted far longer than his first two hitches, the once-hot romance between the award-winning chef and actress Stephanie March eventually grew as cold as leftover gazpacho and the 11-year marriage ended in July 2015. Still, six months later when March sued for additional expenses, it was the assistant D.A. on “Law & Order: SVU” who got flayed in real-life court.
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That final court appearance the day before Thanksgiving 2015 climaxed a two-year nightmare for the now 43-year-old actress. In November 2013, she underwent an emergency appendectomy followed a month later by surgery for endometriosis. By late 2014, she and Flay were reportedly living apart while, at the same time, March’s mother, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, moved in with her daughter during treatment.
As she tried to put things back together, she then fell victim to an unexpected medical disaster: breast implants.
“I was 39 years old, and my life was disintegrating,” she later wrote in a June 2016 essay for the women’s digital-media company Refinery 29. “Couldn’t get a job I wanted on camera, couldn’t get attention for my production projects, couldn’t travel the world far enough or fast enough or immerse myself in philanthropy enough to make it all go away.
“The previous health issues and surgeries had left their mark, and I was down about 15 pounds. Down and sad and tired. You know what doesn’t look so great when that happens? Your breasts. Let me tell you a little something about nice breasts. If you have the time and the money, you can buy them. How remarkable is that? Thanks, Science! Bingo.”
So even though in retrospect she never loved any of the implants she was shown, she went through the procedure in August 2014.
“I went home, took some Percocet, reclined upright, and waited for the perfection to set in,” she wrote. “And it did. In five weeks I looked darn good. Skinny from my misery. Nice breasts from my wallet. My life may have been falling apart, but this? This was pretty good.”
Two months later, she woke to feel wet mucus sliding down her chest. Her implant had become infected and the seams of the scar on her right breast had burst. For the next six weeks, doctors blasted her with antibiotics while removing and then putting back the implant. Another infection produced a second rupture on Christmas Eve. Finally in April 2015, she had them removed for good.
“The problem wasn’t something anyone could have prevented or predicted — it was that I am allergic to implants,” she wrote. “Plain and simple. My body did. Not. Want. Them.”
By this time, her first marriage had “completely tanked.” Rumor was that the then 50-year-old chef was cooking up more than filet mignon with an employee at his restaurant Bar Americain. The divorce was finalized in July 2015.
Still, it wasn’t over. In November, March returned to court, seeking an additional $14,000 in moving expenses along with $105,000 for Food Network’s use of videos in which March appeared with her ex on “Throwdown with Bobby Flay.” Sounding incredulous over the demands, Manhattan Justice Mathew Cooper denied both requests, ruling that Flay could not demand that the network remove the videos and that the moving expenses were excessive.
Yet given all the drama, March’s story currently has an “It’s-A-Wonderful-Life” ending. In October 2015, she began dating Dan Benton, megawealthy founder of Andor Capital Management, and married him three months ago.
“Finally, once and for all, this isn’t about what anyone else thinks,” she concluded her 2016 essay. “I am taking back my body, my story, and myself in a bathing suit. Today, the scars are fading into fine white lines. My breasts are small, well proportioned, and just right for my body. Every day, the evidence of all that happened fades a little more, and my year of living terribly recedes into memory.”
Meanwhile, the hunt goes on for Flay, who has a daughter with his second wife and will turn 53 on Saturday.
As for Marcela, in early October she announced on Instagram that after 14 years she would be leaving “The Kitchen.” She lives on the West Coast and finally tired of flying east every month for the show.
“I’m a West Coast gurl (sic) with a West Coast family and it’s time for me to be here and share with you the stories and recipes that I truly share with my family and friends,” she texted. “Thank you for watching and following. I learned so much and, half the time, I sort of felt like I was cheating life because I was having too much fun and getting paid for it. Besos familia, it brought me great pride to be the Latina face on one of the most popular shows on the @foodnetwork! Diversity and inclusion should always be a priority.”
It’s nearing winter, which means that Narraganett, Rhone Island, must be starting to gear up for what sporting competition?
Answer to Monday’s trivia: In 1927, puppeteer Tony Sarg brought those larger-than-life balloons to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time. However, these initial balloons were filled with oxygen, so they had to be propped up by teams of handlers acting as puppeteers. The following year they switched to helium.