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Jon Kelley, class of 2001, was on Beat Bobby Flay
Daniel O`Brien

A Minuteman High School alumnus has beaten Bobby Flay!

Arlington native Jon Keeley ’01 is now an executive chef at Fire Restaurant and Lounge in Denver. He went up against celebrity chef Bobby Flay on his Food Network show, “Beat Bobby Flay,” in an episode that premiered on Thursday, Feb. 24. (S29, E8, "Girl Meets Flay.")

“Bobby Flay was a very kind host and I couldn’t have asked for a better competitor,” Keeley said.

Jon Keeley

On the show, two executive chefs compete against one another in the first round – preparing a dish in 20 minutes using an ingredient chosen by Flay. After the judges determine who cooked the better meal, the winning contestant faces off against Flay in the second round, which lasts 45 minutes. The winner of the second round is chosen in a taste test.

“The clock is no joke and if I wasn’t prepared, it would have been a disaster,” Keeley said.

Keeley’s winning dish was a rabbit pot pie.

“There was a lot of planning that was involved,” he said, “but it was all worth it.”

When he was a student at Minuteman, Keeley didn’t take Culinary Arts classes. He was an HVAC major.

“I took HVAC but I always had a passion for cooking and I snuck tastes from the kitchen while I was there,” he said with a laugh. “I do recognize the advantage of hands-on career technical education. To this day, I like to fix, diagnose, and play around with refrigeration equipment in the kitchens, which is very helpful.”

Keeley attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts shortly after graduating from Minuteman and received an associate’s degree in culinary arts and chef training. Prior to his current role, he worked as a culinary director at the Sand Valley Golf Resort in Wisconsin, and an executive chef at Walton Street Kitchen and Bar in Chicago, among other culinary arts positions.

“I know if I had gone through the Culinary program at Minuteman, I would have even further been in love with my career choice,” he said.

Kelley said he would like to speak with Minuteman students about his career experiences.

“My time at Minuteman was great. The teachers and my peers were all encouraging and helpful while we were all trying to figure out that time of our lives,” he said.

Keeley has received increased media attention in recent days, which included a segment on the Fox 31 morning news in Denver. “It was amazing to be part of something so respected,” he said of the Food Network show. “I had a blast.”