The celebrity chef, 52, reportedly walked away from the franchise’s Iron Chef Showdown after he showed off a shirt that read “THIS IS MY LAST IRON CHEF BATTLE EVER” during a filming of an episode last summer.
However, Flay now tells PEOPLE it was a poorly thought out joke.
“This past summer when I was in production on Iron Chef Showdown, I wore a T-shirt to have a little fun during my last battle this season. In hindsight, it was probably not the best decision because it’s just creating confusion,” Flay said in a statement to PEOPLE.
“Food Network has been part of my family for over 20 years and will absolutely continue to be, and though there is a talented bench of Iron Chefs to tap, if I were asked, I’d be excited to return to Kitchen Stadium, whenever my schedule allows,” he concludes.
Since joining the Iron Chef franchise, Flay has appeared and competed on and off since 2000.
It is not known if the network will blur the message on Flay’s shirt.
The network as also not confirmed if the program will premiere as planned on Nov. 8 as Flay’s episode features chef John Besh, who resigned from his own company on Monday amid allegations that he enabled a culture of sexual harassment in his restaurants.
Besh was also accused of having a relationship with an employee which Besh said was consensual, but has been working to “rebuild my marriage and come to terms with my reckless actions,” according to a statement.
“I also regret any harm this may have caused to my second family at the restaurant group, and sincerely apologize to anyone past and present who has worked for me who found my behavior as unacceptable as I do,” Besh, a James Beard-award winner said. “I alone am entirely responsible for my moral failings.”
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