In the Kitchen with Guy Fieri
By Fabiana Santana
Guy Fieri is on fire. Only two short years ago, Guy Fieri competed on and won season two of The Next Food Network Star. Today he hosts three popular shows on Food Network, including Guy’s Big Bite, where he teaches viewers how to make creative dishes with bold flavors. His Ultimate Recipe Showdown showcases home cooks’ best recipes and the hit show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives has Guy traveling across America to find the most unique food America has to offer. But Guy wasn’t always the daytime and primetime star he is today. The one thing that has remained the same through it all? His love of food.
Part of Guy’s appeal, aside from his trademark spiky, bleached blond hair, is his “regular guy” vibe. He doesn’t throw around fancy food terms and reference techniques that would have stumped Julia Child. Instead he calls upon his roots – he started selling soft pretzels at the age of 10 from a bicycle cart he built with his dad and wound up the district manager of Stouffers – to talk to people about food they way he felt about it – from the heart.
“I’m a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of guy. I don’t have any time to be showing anybody any bag of tricks.”
Guy also started in restaurants when he was 10; washing dishes at a restaurant in Northern California and then studied in France at 16. In 1996, he opened Johnny Garlic’s in Santa Rosa, California. Two more followed, then came Tex Wasabi’s, a Southern-style barbecue and sushi place.
A friend actually turned him onto the “The Next Food Network Star”, encouraging him to apply. “I said ‘I don’t do that stuff, I’m a restaurant guy. I’m a dad.’ That was in the first season of the show. I had never even watched it. The next year, another buddy of mine called and said there’s this show, you have to sign up for it. So just to get him off my back, I said OK, meet me at Tex Wasabi’s, we’ll do it.”
As any fan of the show knows, Guy’s high energy and refusal to change who he was won over the judges and the viewers. Now, three shows later, Guy is one of the Network’s biggest stars. But at the heart of it, Guy still knows what is truly important.
“It really starts with being surrounded by a bunch of great people. With my restaurants, fortunately I have a really good business partner, a guy named Steve Gruber. Then on top of it to be blessed with a great wife, and a good mom and dad, and a lot of people around me. So really it all comes down to, honestly, just having good people supporting what I’m doing. It’s not by any means easy. The thing I have to be willing to do is work — I think I’m the one that is going to actually copyright the term ’25/8.’ You ever hear of the term “25/8?” It’s the cousin of “24/7.” I have to go “25/8.”
Nice to meet you, cuz.
What are three things every home cook should have in their kitchen?
A sharp knife, lots of cutting boards, and squirt bottles.
Who are your cooking idols?
My dad. My dad and Emeril. Do you have any tips on how to take a really good bite of something?
What do you cook for yourself at home?
My favorite all-time meal is tomato sauce and pasta. Really good pasta. A rough-textured bucatini is heaven.
One of our favorite meals from Guy is his famous Mojito Chicken. We made it, we tasted it, we fell in love with it. Do it yourself using Guy’s famous Mojito Chicken recipe.
Visit Guy at Johnny Garlic’s (www.johnnygarlics.com) or Tex Wasabi’s (www.texwasabis.com) And check him out on Food Network’s Guy’s Big Bite, Ultimate Recipe Showdown, and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives .