Flay has sought the top spot at the Burger Bash for nearly seven years, but always fell short.
For the past three years, Symon bested him — and the 20-something other top chefs who compete each year — with over-the-top, multimeat creations.
But this year, Flay cooked up a crisped beef patty topped with queso sauce, potato chips and green chili pickle.
“It's about time,” Flay said after Thursday evening's event. “The green chilies were my secret weapon. I pulled out all the stops for this one. Michael Symon is a tough guy to beat.”
The Burger Bash is a fixture of the festival and is hosted by Rachael Ray. Dozens of chefs from around the country gather in a massive tent on the beach, cooking up their best burger creations for thousands of attendees.
“Michael Symon is my best friend. If I had lost again, it was going to be a long summer,” Flay said.
Previous winners include Symon (2012, 2011, 2010), Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff Eatery in Washington (2009), Michael Schlow of Radius in Boston (2008) and Shake Shack of New York (2007).