Monday, October 5, 2009

Rock-Star chefs draw fans with live performances

Recently, the Wall Street Journal posted an article on the increasingly popular trend of live celebrity chef entertainment. Here is an edited version of the full article.

To prepare for his first live national tour this fall, Guy Fieri sought advice about living on the road from members of AC/DC ("Take care of yourself, man," was one band mate's counsel) and rocker Sammy Hagar, who recommended voice coaching.

Illustration: Mick Coulas

[Guy met AC/DC in December, 2008, at a concert in Oakland, CA. (source) ~D]

He commissioned a black, red and silver stage set that can shoot flames, specified in his contract that his dressing room must be stocked with Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and lectured his roadies about "not partying until the next town" on the tour bus, he says.

Fieri's show will consist of him making things like jambalaya sandwiches (recipe) at 21 concert venues around the country, in spaces with up to 5,500 seats.

To increase the likelihood of a profitable effort, Guy Fieri's tour is booked in the markets where he gets the highest ratings, such as Philadelphia and the Southeast, say Mr. Fieri's agents at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.

Mr. Fieri says he realized he could take his show on the road last February while performing for free at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. [Note: 'free' is relative. If I understand correctly, Guy Fieri was not paid for his appearance at South Beach. However, ticket holders did have to pay for admittance to the performance. ~D] When Mr. Fieri's blender malfunctioned, he improvised by stirring a frozen margarita vigorously with a pair of tongs—generating wild applause.

A team of William Morris talent agents attending Mr. Fieri's performance took notice. "People were standing on their chairs, screaming," says Michele Bernstein, an agent who usually works with acts such as Nine Inch Nails and Pearl Jam. Returning to her office, she began calling theater owners and event promoters.

Mr. Fieri's tour will start Nov. 17 in Lowell, Mass., and end a month later in Las Vegas. Average tickets will cost $35 to $40, though $250 buys a seat on stage and tastes of the food Mr. Fieri cooks. Ms. Bernstein says the agency is working with other celebrity chef clients to find time for them to go on tour.

[So far, I've heard that Ryan Scott from "Top Chef, Chicago" will open for Guy Fieri at the San Jose Civic Auditorium, December 16, 2009. (source) ~D]

Last week, as Mr. Fieri gave a cooking demonstration at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, N.Y., a fan threw a bra onto the stage (blog post). "I looked around and saw that the crowd went wild, and I thought, 'Wow. This is rock 'n' roll,' " Mr. Fieri says.

Related Posts:
Guy Fieri and more at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival
A Chat with Guy Fieri - Bullz-Eye
Where in the World is Guy Fieri

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