Guy Fieri looks more like a rock star than a restaurateur. Maybe that's why the man who got his start 14 years ago as the owner of a Sonoma County, Calif., Italian restaurant is cable television's culinary Sammy Hagar — bleach blond, instantly likable and over-the-top. Already one of the Food Network's most recognizable faces, Fieri took a step into prime time last spring as the host of NBC's Minute To Win It game show. Catch him in person when he brings his no-holds-barred cooking to the Fabulous Food Show on Nov. 13. We talked to Fieri about his strangest moments, our city's dining scene and what's next.
Q. What is the wildest thing that has happened during one of your food show appearances?
I was at the Turning Stone Casino in New York, and there must have been 4,000 people there. The crowd was nuts. People were throwing flowers, pickles and hot peppers on stage. All of a sudden the crowd went bananas. I looked down and saw a purple lace bra on the stage. I looked at it, the audience looked at me, and I turned beet red. I picked it up with a pair of tongs. It was a jaw-dropping situation.
Q. How does Cleveland rate as a food destination?
It's not bull----; I love the town. You guys have got it. My aunt and cousins live in Rocky River and Westlake, and there's a great sense of community there. Everybody in my family gears up for this show. It's actually a family reunion for us. ... Cleveland is a great food town. We brought Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives there last year and had a blast. It's always a kick coming back.
Q. What is your latest project?
The two things I love the most are food and football, and we've got a new show called Tailgate Warriors. I'm a huge NFL fan, and the tailgating world is on fire right now. We're doing shows from Oakland, Seattle, San Francisco and New Orleans this year. And I'll be checking out the tailgating in Cleveland when I'm in town in November. I also had dinner with Jim Brown during the Super Bowl in February, and it was one of the most compelling conversations I've ever had.
Q. Will fame and fortune spoil Guy Fieri?
I had a better chance of going to the moon than having some of these things happen [to me], but I'm still Guy. I'm just some dude who wears flip-flops. If I don't laugh 100 times a day, something's wrong.
More Info: fabulousfoodshow.com