August 04, 2011 02:00 PM by Veronica Dudo
Guy Fieri captured the coveted title of the Next Food Network Star, season two and since then, has captivated the hearts of America. Hosting numerous TV shows like Guy’s Big Bite; Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives; and Minute To Win It, the bestselling author has also penned More Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives: A Culinary Cruise, and Guy Fieri’s Food Cookbook.
The restaurateur, celebrity chef, and TV personality talks about his appearance at the Food Network’s 2011 Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival, his new cooking competition with Rachel Ray, his successful journey and his effort to educate kids about cooking healthy meals.
How is this year’s Atlantic City Food and Wine Show going?
You got water, the boardwalk, and a bunch of great casinos and restaurants and entertainment and I will tell you something–I fly six of my buddies out from California to come to this and they go through it like it’s the NFL draft; they’re all jockeying for who gets the shot to come out to AC and this actually is my kids’ first time to come out. My son Hunter comes out of the hotel and he goes, ‘Wow, is what the whole town’s like?’ and I said pretty much–and we’re big White House fans so there’s just a whole energy and attitude. I’m really pround that the hotels work together and put on this Food and Wine Festival I think it first of all you’ve got South Beach Food and Wine, you’ve got Aspen, you’ve got Pebble Beach, yo’ve got some big hitters out there but what I think AC does and the effort that they put into it and how it continues to get better each year–each yer it gets better.
What is the premise of your new cooking show with Rachael Ray?
Rachel and I coached them, we picked teams a mixed bag of characters and I tell you fierce competition nit negative competition; I’m not into negative I don’t play, I don’t like gossip–that’s just not my gig. I said when this whole thing was coming down, I said I’m not voting people off, ‘You’re fired’ I’m not doing any of that, that’s not my style; bring other people in to be the judges, I’m the coach so we have different scenarios where different people got involved and judge, sometimes large audiences judge but watching my boys they’re cooking–I have guys and girls–watching them go through these issues and trying to cook at higher levels and listening I’ve got 30 minutes to tell them, we go through this things where they look at me in the middle of cooking and they’re like when do I add the garlic? And I’m like I want to help you. I must have lost five pounds–I mean it found me but I lost it for a while; we just shot for about five days. It was just bananas and it was so funny because my manager Reed, we were getting in the car after I had lost one of my guys on the show and I was so bummed out about it and he goes you know what, I know you’re really sad about losing one of your guys but trust me if it feels like that to you think what kind of television it’s going to make. And I got to say this other piece–Rachel Ray is simply amazing. She is funny, witty, quick, smart, super culinary-talented she goes by I’m a cook I’m not a chef; that’s not even the truth she knows so much about food. She’s so well read and I stand there with her and I usually go toe to toe with all my boys about one-liners and movie quotes and jokes and random information about food and this girl stands there it’s like Ali Foreman in a great way, in a very positive-energy way. She’s like a sister, it’s a really neat relationship and I’m glad to see that because I never knew Rachel that well, I knew her from shows and interactions but the depth of the person phenomenal I go in (my dressing room) and have to answer emails and have to get on the phone for conference calls she’s in hers writing recipes and this woman is non-stop.
It’s only been a few years since you were competing on Next Food Network Star and won. How do you keep balance in your life?
I think I was fortunate to get into this that I was old enough when I got into this, I think I was 37 when I got this shot so I had already done what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a Dad, that’s my first line and first title on my business card is Dad; and then I wanted to be a chef and a restaurant owner and I did those things. I was just cruising life, I was cool, everything was great. Plus, if you really look at the baseline of what this whole thing is about, it’s just about people, it’s about people enjoying other people and being around other people that they like doing similar things that they like because food is the common denominator of most people I think of all people; some people say I don’t like food, well you just haven’t had the right food and people that don’t eat the food that they want to eat, you just eat food in moderation or try to and exercise and so forth that I think they’re hurting themselves by not living their life to the fullest because who knows what happens tomorrow but this is a community meeting of food and wine and different people carry different roles in it. You’ve got the baseline stuff of cooking the food and hanging out and talking about it and then the crazy stuff and the wild and the parties and that and then everything in-between.
Do you watch Next Food Network Star or interact with any of the contestants?
I do and that’s one of the reasons that I try to give a little mentoring to those guys because whether or not they won or not, they’re in it and I personally think that this (season) is the best Food Network Star series that they’ve had. I think it was so well produced and so well handled we DVR it. I don’t watch a lot of TV or my kids that’s not our big gig but we sit there as a family and watch it, and my kids say who they want to win and I don’t tell them what the story is but I try to give them a little insight to what’s available to them just because you didn’t win doesn’t mean the game’s over you’re in the top echelon of people in food that are recognized and you got to do something with it.
You have worked for the past couple of years to educate kids about cooking healthy dishes, have you seen progress?
My kids, they stood on the Senate floor with me in May and we took a resolution from the state of California. I’ve been working for the last four years to get more of the movement in Califormia about cooking with kids and so we got the resolution that the second Saturday in May would be, Cook With Your Kids Day in the state of California. It was awesome and we did some nice projects with it, we did some cooking classes and we really got some people focused. But, I said that’s not enough one day we’re only going to do one day when we have child obesity, diabetes and we got all this craziness going on and we’re only going to give one day? Wow, that’s really putting our foot forward, so, we went back to the legislature, the coalition of players and said I want it once a week so we have Sundays now in the state of California is deemed, Cook With Your Kids Day.
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