8/17/2012 03:52:00 PM

Guy Fieri on His New NYC Eatery, His Stolen Yellow Lamborghini and More

Photo by John Lee
Whether you love him or loathe him, there's no doubt that Guy Fieri, the most successful figure to emerge from the reality competition The Next Food Network Star, has built a lucrative empire based as much on his larger-than-life personality as his culinary ability. Guy's fame crystallized when his show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives premiered six years ago on The Food Network, but since then his success has yielded him countless restaurants, TV shows, product lines, rock-star buddies, sunglasses and all else that is "money" in the world of Fieri.

We caught up with the man, myth, legend/spiky-haired dude himself to talk about his new NYC eatery and his involvement in Sonoma's Heirloom Tomato Festival with Mario Batali, and to get the answer to the most burning question of all: did he ever get his stolen yellow Lamborghini back? Read on to find out.

Zagat: So what's going on with Guy's American Kitchen in NYC - any opening updates?
We are right around the corner - we will be opening in September. It's going to out of control, just a beautiful restaurant, a phenomenal build-out. We're talking 16,000 sq. ft., 500+ seats; it's going to be great. It's got a really fun menu - all the foods we do at my other two concepts (Johnny Garlic's and Tex Wasabi's) along with some other influences that we found from Triple D [Diners, Drive-ins and Dives].


Zagat: What else do you have going on this fall?
I've got a whole line of cookware coming out this fall. Just everything from stainless steel pans to a whole big mix of cooking equipment, everything from tongs to tenderizing mallets, you name it. We have a great new website, I want to say it's the website of all websites, super interactive, super hands-on.

What you'll see in this website is just righteous. We're about to launch in the next few days. It's the difference between color and black-and-white and 3-D, that's how righteous this thing is.

At NYC Wine and Food, I'm doing some demos - I'm hosting a real big event with the festival itself, a big program on Saturday and just highlighting the kids and them in food. I'm also involved in a roast - Anthony Bourdain is going to be getting roasted, Batali's hosting and then you've got Rachael Ray, Ted Allen, Eric Ripert. Trust me, that will be an awesome event.

Zagat: Speaking of roasts, a lot of people seem to have strong opinions about you one way or another. Do you consider yourself a polarizing figure in the food world?
It's so funny, I don't really pay much attention to it. Everybody's welcome to their comments and their opinions, and I don't try to impose mine. I say spend more time focusing on what things you can do, getting kids eating the right food, empowering yourself, etc. I'm not down with flinging opinions around.

Zagat: Did you ever consider any other career path?
Didn't really have anything else on the market that I really got the charge out of. I was a very driven kid, I always had projects of one sort or another, whether it's the pretzel park or the lawn mowing biz. Whatever I could do to be self-maintaining and have some money in my pocket, I was always kind of driven in that aspect, and food was always the common denominator. It was just that kind of feeling and that kind of way.

Zagat: What issue are you most passionate about right now? 
My Cooking with Kids program for sure - the impact that we can make with kids and school programs, to after-school programs. It's a life skill kids need to have; you know, kids used to know how to chop wood and mow a field, etc. Knowing how to cook, understanding food, and all of those components are just so critical, and we've got children with diabetes and obesity - that's not what kids should be worried about. 

Zagat: Tell me a little about your involvement in the Heirloom Tomato Festival with Batali next month.
Ever since I've been up here in Northern California we've had this Heirloom Tomato Festival, which is just an amazing event with all the great agriculture that we have up here. The folks at Kendall-Jackson are really well known for this big organic garden that they do off to the side of their tasting room. So they put on this festival to celebrate the heirloom tomato and it's nuts - all different kinds of chefs show up, everyone's got their little spin, their little style - and the people get to come and enjoy great wine and food.

Last year we started talking, and they asked if I, well me and my foundation, that is (Guy Fieri Cooking with Kids) would have any interest in being the beneficiary of the festival. I said "yeah," well, but here's the crazy thing: you get everybody here, you do all this hard work, you've got these chef demos, you've got these Iron Chef competitions...why don't we do something the night before to kind of kick it off, like kind of a celebration dinner? And everyone started throwing ideas around and then we said, "Let's get Mario Batali."' And I said, "Well yeah, he's a good buddy of mine," so it kind of ramped itself into this big party. So then we called a bunch of our chef buddies and asked if they would get involved, and now I mean it's just out of control. 

Zagat: Is Mario a good friend?
We're great friends, he's a really amazing person, hard to really describe somebody with that much personality, enthusiasm and appreciation, but he's just really an awesome guy and I've gone and done a couple fund-raisers for him. And so I'm doing a big event with his dad up in Seattle in November. We all try to take care of each other, and Mario knows how important this is to me, and cooking with kids is something that Mario is involved with as well, trying to educate the next generation and getting people turned around on what they believe great food is and how to make great food. So when I pitched it to him he said, "Great, when do you want me?"

The other thing that's great is that this is all about bringing all these great chefs we have in Sonoma County and in SF and in the greater area, we actually call it "Chef Tables in the Vineyard," and each chef is going to prepare an individual menu for the table. We have Justin Wangler, executive chef from Kendall-Jackson, John Ash, one of the founding fathers of Sonoma County food...about 20 chefs total plus myself and Mario.

Zagat: How long have you lived up in the area? 
Well, I'm originally from Humboldt County in far Northern Cali, almost near the Oregon border in Ferndale. I still have my parents' house in Ferndale, but it wasn't as sunny as I wanted it. I did my time in Vegas, I did my time in LA, Long Beach...there's good restaurants in a variety of places, and when I said I really wanted to do my own restaurant, I really wanted to be in an epicenter of food. This particular area I live in is one of the greatest places to live, it's got a real heart and soul and mind of food. From the agriculture to the festivals to the community events - it was just really food-oriented.

Zagat: So now the most important question of all: did you ever get the Lambo back?
The Lamborghini was recovered, and as far as I know it is still in the police's possession. It's going to go back to the insurance company. When this whole thing went down back in the day, we had all anticipated that it had been shipped off to some other country in some container. Then lo and behold it pops back up. I do think if something like this is going to happen, at least it should have a great story like this did.

Zagat: Tell me about The Guy Fieri Food Road Show, will those continue?
We did two of them, the last one just wrapped a year ago. We were doing it celebrating my book, Guy Fieri Food, which kind of put all these pieces together. I don't know if we'll do another one, or exactly how that's going to come off. We were very successful; we had a great time with it, so we will have to see. 

Zagat: Restaurantwise, are you expanding at all in other cities besides NYC?
Well, we opened up some new Johnny Garlic's. We have one that we opened in San Jose, and one in Northern Cali. Now we're going to do New York.

Plus on top of it, I'm doing the show Rachael vs. Guy Season 2 and all of that. Talk about crazy stuff - shooting with Rachael and that all happening, and we had some great celebrities.

Zagat: Who are the new celebtestants on the new season, can you tell me?
I'm afraid not, but I will tell you this - just when you think you understand how the show is done and what you think are going to be the key components, when you think you've got that all figured out...the producers and what they put up this next round - it's just outrageous.

Zagat: And one last thing - is it true that you own 120 pairs of sunglasses?
The number goes up and down - I don't have as many as I used to, some have been given away, some have been lost. I have sunglasses now from Gatorz - they make me an exclusive one. It's true I do have a display case full of sunglasses. Some people have shoes, I have these.

2 comments :

  1. The previous comment by Anthony Bourdain is fuking hilarious! Duche Bag!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete