IF YOU GO
What: The Guy Fieri Food Tour
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Palace Theatre, 1615 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
Tickets: $39.50 to $250
Info: Call 216- 241-6000 or 866-546-1353, or go to PlayhouseSquare.org
By John Benson
Over the past five years no one has epitomized the celebrity chef persona more than Guy Fieri, the California-based restaurateur, best-selling author and TV personality. After winning the second season of reality show “The Next Food Network Star,” the Columbus native has parlayed his 15 minutes of fame into a career in front of the camera as host of Food Network shows “Guy’s Big Bite,” “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” and “Tailgate Warriors.” Let’s not forget his recent foray into the primetime game show world as host of NBC’s hit “Minute to Win It.”
Armed with his latest book “Guy Fieri Food,” the spikey-haired, 43-year-old rock ’n’ roll chef brings his food tour to Cleveland Sunday for a show at PlayhouseSquare’s Palace Theatre. The Vindicator talked to Fieri about his stardom, his new book and what fans should expect from his unique live show.
Q. First of all, congratulations on your latest book, which is over 400 pages in length and contains 150 recipes. What was the idea behind “Guy Fieri Food?”
A. There are a lot of stories and history in the book about how I started cooking or what it was to me. There’s a neat piece my mom writes about me cooking as a kid. I share the story about living in France. So there are some good anecdotal pieces about my life in food. And if that’s not what floats your boat, and you’re all into recipes, there are recipes ranging from old-school Italian to Asian, All-American and Mexican. You’ll also get quite an assortment of pictures that I wanted to come alive. I own a lot of cookbooks. When I look at artwork that doesn’t pop or make me hungry, that’s hard. I wanted to make sure everybody who saw this book went, “Wow, I want to cook that.”
Q. Speaking of wanting to cook something, is there a white whale in your culinary career that still eludes you after all of these years?
A. I don’t know if I haven’t caught it. There are always ones that are elusive but usually, if there’s something I really like that I don’t know how to cook, I do all my research and do all I can to understand how to conquer that recipe. Like I was always scared of paella and then, finally, I just got after it and said, “I’m going to cook this until I own this.” Also, this isn’t my first rodeo, but I’m still perplexed by baking. That’ll probably never be my forte but I still try it.
Q. Of all your successful television endeavors, “Minute to Win It” is the one we didn’t see coming. How does hosting a game show fit your personality?
A. When my close friends and family heard about it, they were like, “Oh, duh, of course, this is what happens every birthday around here.” Someone has a birthday and Guy steps in as the master of ceremonies. I’m a multifaceted person just like anybody is. I don’t want to be stereotyped into any one type of food. I don’t want to be stereotyped into one type of a business. I won’t say it’s not difficult, it’s very challenging. I had to learn a whole new skill set and business. Food television and primetime game-show television isn’t apples-to-apples. But it’s been an unbelievable experience. Watching people win that kind of money has been amazing.
Q. What exactly should people expect from this live show you’re bringing to town?
A. It’s a tour about the book. The idea is hanging out, eating some food, talking about it, making some cocktails, laughing with the audience and having the audience involved. Some people sit on stage, some people sit in the general admission, everyone has their own desire, what they want to get out of it. But it’s food, music, friends and stories. It’s a foodapalooza.
Q. You mean everyone gets to sample the food?
A. No, we tried to do that (laughs). We thought that would be the really great way to do it. But I don’t know if you tried to feed 1,500 people at one time. The first time I came up with the idea everyone said that’s great but then when we started weighing it out we realized there’s no way in hell we can do that. So just like a normal food and wine festival event, not everybody gets to sample the goods but fortunately because the book is out, the recipes we do they’ll be able to take home and do themselves. Plus if they’re cooking at their own house, they’ll be able to pick their own musical playlist.