Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Popeater.com interviews Guy Fieri

Popeater.com had a lengthy interview with Guy Fieri recently. Click here to read the full article.

Where did the idea (for the Guy Fieri Road Show) come from?

Here's what happens. As a young chef, the greatest way to go out and get publicity is to go to farmer's markets or the county fair, whatever you can do to highlight your food and yourself. That's what I was doing. I opened my restaurants, they continued to grow and grow, then I go on Food Network and I win, what ends up happening is that I go to these big time food events now and everybody's doing their demos. You go and watch Jaques Pepin or you watch Bobby Flay, these guys bring some game. So I'm like, "I bring game," I just could never do it at the county fair. I started to do the show my way and when the guy is putting on my lapel mike, I said "Hey here's my iPod. Don't give me the elevator intro music, give me my music, some Lynyrd Skynyrd, some Motley Crue" and it just started growing. My numbers were blowing through the roof. I was doing a show in South Beach last year, I was rockin' and rolling, I came offstage and my agent goes, "What was that?" and I'm thinking, "Oh God, I'm in trouble." She said, "That was the most out of control cooking I've ever seen. Can you do that again?" And I said, "I can do that times ten." And she said, "Oh gosh, we gotta take this cross country." And that was it, that's how it all started. The show is about, if you love food like I love food and you're into the world of food like I'm into the world of food, then why shouldn't there be a food-a-palooza? Why shouldn't there be a food thing? We get together, we bring some other chefs in. We make food, we tell stories about food, we talk about 'Diners Drive-ins and Dives,' we cook food, we make some drinks, we have some laughs, we pull some antics and we just have a food concert. Now, concert doesn't sound right. "Guy Fieri presents a Culinary Concert, seven breads of Beethoven." No. I don't have Metallica coming out making paninis and I don't have Motley Crue doing flambee, it's just jamming to some good music, having some fun, having a wild audience, eating some food, telling some stories, having some laughs, and hanging out for a few hours. My interest beyond that was, I've got the greatest fans in the world who put me on the map, made my show number one and there are not enough times when you get to interact. Besides seeing your favorite person on TV, when do you ever get to see them live, see them real? That's the point. See it live, see it real.

When you say you have other chefs coming in, who will they be?

We have different diners drive-ins and dives that we've gone to across the country and they have all said, "I want to come by." You would not believe the requests that other agents of celebrities have been sending to my guys, saying "So and so wants to come," and I am just dying. One, I've gotta perform in front of some of my favorite guys, two how do I not get starstruck by them? It's two fat rock and roll tour buses wrapped with the whole logo thing on them, a big semi hauling the stage, this is a $150,000 stage that's going along. Audience members sitting on the stage. It's going to be bananas.

You've exploded on the food scene. Did you ever think in your wildest dreams you'd be doing something like this?

I said to Carrie Underwood the other day, "Has this been mind blowing or what?" and she said, "Yup." I don't know how to explain it to you. I think about a lot of the 'firsts' in my life. The first time I opened a restaurant, when my son was born. It's really indescribable. There's the good and the bad, it's not just one blissful vacation. I've never worked this hard in my life. Three shows on the Food Network, over 200 days on the road last year. I could do every day on the road, I would never stop working, but the most important people in my life are my sons and my wife, that's the only thing that kills me.

Have you ever been shocked by a celebrity who's a fan of yours?

I run into people all the time, random people who like the show, like football players -- anybody that has to travel, because a lot of time you sit in your hotel room -- I think the biggest mind-blowing call ever was from Matthew McConaughey. Not only is he a great guy, but he is a great support to me with advice. He is the kind of celebrity, one who has a positive image and gives back to charity with his foundation, who I really admire. I really take his advice to heart.

With all the fans and the fame there's always some, not necessarily haters, but dissenters. And in the case of 'SNL,' satire. What do you think of all that?

I love it. I think it's hysterical. Obviously that's not offensive, come on. With 'SNL,' their skits were great, on point. I do speak very crazily, weird. I do have my own vocabulary and say odd words, "This is off the hook." I thought they couldn't have done that better. And in terms of the negative, I don't subscribe to that. It's out there, that's fine. I'm not going to combat it -- not that I don't take advice from people. If I'm doing something wrong and someone has some insight, I always want to improve and grow, but anybody that's smackdown, that's not in my world.

With the 'SNL' thing, have they approached you to come be in a skit at all? Would you do that?

I will tell you this, I guess I'll let the cat out of the bag... since I was a little kid I never wanted to be a TV star, or movie star -- of course I'd like to be. I wanted to be in 'Caddyshack' so bad if they would make 'Caddyshack 9' I would sell the farm to be in it. But always, as a dream as a kid I've always wanted to be on 'Saturday Night Live.' So when they did the parody on me, that was the step. "Oh my God, they recognized me! I am somebody!" Kinda like Steve Martin when his name was in the phonebook. So I don't know, I'm fulfilling some dreams... and if they called I think that would be the crescendo of the career.

You said something about letting the cat out of the bag, I thought they might have called already.

Oh no. I didn't know if I wanted to say. I don't want to be weird about it. Be like, "I hope someday to go to the moon..." I love what 'SNL' does. I think that parody and satire, when it's coming from the right spot, is one of the most healthy things we can do. If you can't laugh at yourself, laughing to me is one of the absolutes.

Well I hope they call. It would be great to see you in a skit with Bobby Moynihan (who played Guy in the original parody)

I have skit ideas. I know people who work at 'Saturday Night Live' and I've passed along to them, "Please tell Bobby I've got some ideas!" Either with me being involved or not involved, I have some that I think would be a riot.

You mentioned you don't subscribe to the negative, but with regard to the dissenters or non-fans, where do you think that negativity comes from?

I am so odd about what I choose to tune into in life. I really try never to pre-judge or judge anybody. You either like someone or you don't. Either you like their food or you don't. Once I'm off the "I don't like it" or "It's not my cup of tea," I'm off it. There are so many great things going on, I don't understand why people get negative. Why spend your time talking about it? If you don't like it, then just get off it. But I will say this about chefs, it's a very interesting world of where people come from in cooking. It's a very disciplined and active. It's just to me like looking at a painter or a musician or anybody that's doing an art and it comes from different parts of people. We've all heard stories about great artists, great musicians, but then they're also not very cool -- who aren't nice to their people. I guess everybody has their own zone. I will tell you, and I'm kind of the new guy on the scene, my guys that I hang out with -- when I can, because I'm in California and they're all here -- Bobby Flay, Emeril [Lagasse], Mario [Batali], Giada [de Laurentiis], Rachel [Ray], all of them are incredibly cool. And I can see why, given that I'm the new guy, they wouldn't have to be. Rachel has given me phenomenal advice. Emeril wrote the damn foreword to my book. To me, and I don't run in all the circles of all the chefs, but the one great chef I know here in New York, Michael Psilakis, who's an awesome dude -- beyond awesome -- those are my benchmarks. It's kind of like in the literary world as well. Everybody's got an opinion, everybody's got a feeling, I take the advice and recommendations from the people who are close to me that feels constructive and helpful. Everybody's got their own boat to float.

Any chance you might highlight any healthy things on your shows? Something that is both nutritious and tasty?

I've done quite a few vegetarian pieces - my sister is a vegetarian.

Vegetarian doesn't always mean healthy though...

Very true. I am working on some diabetic recipes, I've had a lot of requests for that, which I think is very necessary. I have some friends with Celiac, so I'm trying to look into some of that but I'll tell ya, it's always misconstrued. Kinda like if you're a rock band you don't play love songs. If you're a wild and crazy chef like me, probably the stuff you make isn't so great for you but I really try to diversify my culinary portfolio. When I do 'Diners,' it seems like a lot of the food is fried, but we were doing a calculation the other day and I don't even think that 20% of what we do on the show is fried. I divert away from fried before I go to fried, if I can. I'll highlight other items. We've got to improve our palates. It's about moderation. I don't think you need to totally abstain from it, but I do think we need to have more whole grains... no offense, but for 'Diners,' a salad is not sexy. You should eat it, but it doesn't make great TV. My routine every morning is a cup of coffee and a banana. Even when I don't feel like a banana, I eat one. My new regimen is whenever I have snacking urges, I eat a piece of fruit and just try to keep it available to me. We gotta eat 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. This health issue we've got going on in this world is not because the atmosphere is changing.

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