... I had done a food show for them at an annual festival that takes place in Branson, MO. And I had done an hour for them on, of all things, diners with Al (Roker, of the Today Show). With a lot of thanks to Al for having gotten me to the food side, I started pitching the Food Network a lot of things, which they kept turning down until this happened.
When Food Network commissioned it, I said, “Well, do you want to look for a host?” and they said, “Well, yeah, but we think we have this guy we’ve been trying to figure out what to do with him in prime time, if he can do prime time.” I said, “Who?” They said “Guy Fieri.” And I said, “What’s a Guy Fieri?” And they said that he won The Next Food Network Star contest and I did not let on that I wasn’t really sure that that contest existed.
And I went to the website and I looked him up and I saw this spiky-haired guy in shorts and I went, “Oh my God, I’m dead.” ‘Cause I had never seen him on television and I thought, “What are they doing to me?” And then we were going to shoot a one-hour special and I couldn’t get a hold of him on the phone. We have a summer house on the Jersey shore and he finally called me back as I was walking into a market.
So my first conversation with him was, “Hey, can I call you back? I’m walking into the fish market to buy dinner.” First thing he said to me was, “Well, what are you making?” And I said, “I’m making cioppino.” And he said, “Well, what are you going to use for fennel?” And I said, “Well, I don’t know because I can’t find any fresh. There’s nothing on the island so I guess I’ll use fennel seed.” He said, “That won’t work. Here’s what you do. Go get some Sambuca. It’s the same flavor profile.” So I went home. I don’t know if I called him before or after the cioppino. I think it was after because it was really good. And we started talking and then he said to me, “You know, how much time do you need?” And I said, “Well, what days do you have?” And he sent me his calendar and I said, “I’ll take them all.” And we went out and shot the special.
We will plan a trip to a given geographical location, generally based around a city. In each of those locations the intent is to visit seven restaurants. When we’re on the road, it’s two full crews: two camera guys, two sound guys, two production assistants, two producers, as well as the driver who takes care of the car. So what we’ll do is send the crews in several days ahead of Guy. Each crew will shoot a full day at each of their locations. All or most of the close-up shots, the beauty shots, a lot of the atmosphere of the place, and it gives the producer and crew the opportunity to, what I say, smell the place. Get a feel for it, because we’re very, very good in the research department, but still you can be surprised. And to be candid, we have gotten to town and canceled places because the key to the show is that they have to meet that bar.
But logistically, the crews will shoot ahead of time. Guy will then come in and do his visit to each of these restaurants, which is half a day at a time. He’ll do two restaurants a day for three days and one restaurant either on the day he arrives or the day he leaves, which is plenty of time for him to do everything we need to do. And then after he’s done, that leaves a half-day for a crew to pick up anything, you know, if we caught an audible in the field, if Guy said: “Hey I’d like to do that instead of this.” And that amount of shooting is surprisingly high for a show like this, but we really take all the time it needs to shoot every step and every process, make sure we have all the beauty shots we need, make sure we have spent enough time getting the personality, the characters, so it’s pretty intensive. Guy’s amazing. Guy’s able to walk into a place, strike up a relationship, a friendship. Guy just loves hanging out with and cooking with other chefs.
This has to be handmade food. If it’s hamburgers, it better be handmade hamburgers. It better be done from scratch. It better be made right. And it better be good. And more than that, the whole place has to be like that. It’s not like we want to walk into a joint that has 75 percent frozen Sysco pre-prepared product, but they make two specials a week that will knock you on your butt. That’s not good enough. We just booked seven places in Houston. I was talking with the researcher today; he looked at 80 joints to get seven. That’s not unusual for us. The reality is we’re incredibly discerning about what it takes to get on the air and the first thing it has to have is real food because that’s the soul of the show.
(source)See also: Page Production's Website - www.pageprod.com
And specifically, check out www.pageprod.com/television, a list of upcoming specials produced by David Page for the Food Network, featuring Guy Fieri.
Related Post, Site and Article:
Frequently Asked Questions about Guy Fieri
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives episode guide
Star Tribune interview, with video