And on the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a Q&A with Guy Fieri. That’s right, to close out this festive, Guy-centric holiday extravaganza, the Mayor of Flavortown himself answered 12 questions — an appropriate number, right? Seeing as he is a chef, restaurateur, Emmy-winning television star, and New York Times bestselling author, Guy is a busy man, but he carved out some time to file these responses via email. Merry Guy-mas, everybody.
What’s on the menu for a typical Christmas dinner at the Fieri house?
Guy Fieri: I don’t know that we ever do “typical” or “traditional” any time of year. But on Christmas, here in NorCal, we’ve always gotta have our Dungeness crab which is in season. We always do some sort of pasta dish as well — linguine vongole shows up a lot because [my son] Ryder is a machine when it comes to his clams.
What is the highest compliment you can give a dish?
On Triple D, if I’ll feed it to my crew, you know it’s good.
When it comes to barbecue, pork or brisket?
I dig the pig for sure. But brisket is a really tricky to do right and when you do, it’s amazing. I just visited Louie Mueller Barbecue outside of Austin and let me tell you, that’s some serious brisket.
When you competed on Next Food Network Star, were you surprised to advance all the way through the competition and win, or did you think of yourself as a shoo-in from the beginning?
Surprised? That would be the understatement of a lifetime. I didn’t even think anyone would make it all the way through my audition video.
Does your family leave milk and homemade cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, or is store-bought the way to go? What flavor can the big man expect when he slides down the Fieri chimney?
The only thing the big man can expect at the bottom of the chimney is a bunch of slobbering dogs who just ate his cookies.
What’s the most satisfying aspect of overseeing a multi-faceted culinary empire, running restaurants, starring on television, or writing cookbooks?
There’s no question in my mind that the most satisfying aspect is having the ability to make a difference in other folks’ lives. Whether it is helping out a small business on Triple-D; supporting my team members through the restaurants; or helping to feed victims of fires, floods, you name it — it is all very rewarding.
How do you think food media has changed in the 12 years since you won Next Food Network Star? Has it changed for the better or worse?
You know, I’ve always just kind of done my own thing — I worked hard to make food how I do it, show me for who I really am and treat others in the business with respect and honesty. How the rest of the food media world has done it has never really been my concern. But with that said, I hope that food media remembers that food is a great unifier and something that makes people very happy — don’t screw that up.
Who is your favorite food-television personality (other than yourself, of course)?
My chihuahua puppy, Smokey, makes his debut on Guy’s Grocery Games next season. He’s a real star in my book!
Fruitcake: Good or bad?
Great for Frisbee golf.
What’s the best music to accompany time working in the kitchen?
Whatever keeps ya cookin’ and inspires your creativity. Right now, for me, I’ve got my buddy Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real on repeat.
What’s the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
My son, Ryder, was born on New Year’s Eve so that Christmas was pretty much all about the new baby coming. I mean, that’s a pretty real-deal Christmas gift, wouldn’t you say?
In The Twelve Days of Christmas, a few birds traditionally consumed in the United States — doves, hens, and geese — are mentioned. Of these, which is your favorite to eat, and what’s the best way to prepare it?
You know, a lot of chefs are really embracing the whole field-to-table mentality and doing great things with doves, hens, geese, you name it. I’d love to cook any of those birds.