Last week I had the chance to speak with Food Network's Guy Fieri. He's the host of three shows — Guy's Big Bite, Diners, Drive-ins, Dives, and Guy Off the Hook — and winner of the Next Food Network Star season two. Filming keeps him incredibly busy, but in his spare time, the celebrity chef — who prefers hot dogs to hamburgers and mustard to ketchup — continues to experiment in the kitchen. He's deeply passionate about food, especially food education for children, and encourages "people to get on the food train." Fieri and I talked about his upcoming appearance at New York City Wine and Food Festival, and I got to see a softer side of the "in it to win it" bad-boy chef.
To see what Fieri had to say when we chatted,
PartySugar: Tell us about your role at the Food Festival.
Guy Fieri: I'm new to the whole food festival thing. My first one was last February in South Beach. I'll be doing a live filming of Off the Hook. It will be two one-hour taped specials featuring all kinds of good food. Anybody that's into food, chefs, cooking, partying — they should go to the festival.
PartySugar: At a festival so large, do any chefs make you star struck?
Guy Fieri: No, not star struck. I'm a big fan of a lot of chefs. I love what Emeril created. Bobby is a bad-ass. Rachael took this whole world and turned it into a new realm. Everyone is the King/Queen of their own kitchen, so I respect them all.
PartySugar: Out of all the seasons of the Next Food Network Star, you are the only one who actually became a FN star; why do you think that is?
Guy Fieri: If I had that answer, I would be churning out new stars for the network! I made who I wanted to become. I did things my way. I don't know really. Divine intervention, perhaps?
PartySugar: Have you ever had a bad experience at one of the diners, drive-ins, or dives?
Guy Fieri: Oh yeah. There's no reason to lie. I'm not a food critic. I usually look at the recipes and can tell what will be good and what won't be.
PartySugar: What's in your fridge?
Guy Fieri: Let me open it for you! Organic blackberry preserves, sriracha, six different jars of olives, 10 kinds of mustard, sesame oil, horseradish, fish sauce, unsalted butter, salted butter. I'm sort of a mad scientist when it comes to cooking. I love every type of condiment and sauce. The vegetable drawer is kind of empty. It's only got red pepper, onion, carrots, new potatoes, celery, and beets. The cheese drawer has three kinds of salami, six cheeses, parmesan reggiano. In the freezer I have bacon cut into small portions 'cause my son likes to have a little bacon at breakfast. Smoked elk sausages, spaetzel that I made, capers.
PartySugar: What's your advice to the everyday home cook?
Guy Fieri: Make two new things every week! Break out new recipes, try new ingredients, experiment with new things. Don't make a whole meal of new dishes for your family, but if you want to give curry a try, make your usual rice, vegetables the kids like, a salad, and then the curry. That way if no one likes the new thing, there is still other stuff they can eat. Don't be discouraged when something goes wrong. But really food is so awesome, everyone can do it. The common denominator between humankind is food. It's empowering to cook.