Guy Fieri rocks and rolls during appearance at Caesars WindsorWritten by Amy Campbell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The group assembled in the Canadian Club Lounge at Caesars Windsor in late May was a mix of male and female, dressed up and dressed down, young and old, but they were all buzzing, enthusiastically accepting canapés as they kept one eye on the door.
They might have been waiting for a political activist, guru or rock star, but the actual object of their anticipation was a combination of all three: Guy Fieri, the rock star chef who advocates feeding children “real food” and is a culinary guru to millions. Windsor was the third stop on Fieri’s 14-city roadshow, a mix of comedy and cooking with a rock ‘n’ roll attitude.
At the pre-show reception in the Club Lounge, the Fieri faithful weren’t shy about their devotion. Tami Whittington came to Caesars from the Toronto area and was elated at the prospect of meeting the chef. Whittington runs the restaurant for the UPS logistics campus in Burlington, Ont., and said Fieri is a staff favorite.
“This is a dream,” Whittington said. “My friend at work will never believe this. We talk about him all day long.”
Fieri didn’t disappoint when he arrived a few minutes later in the California casual T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops that have become a trademark. He charmed the crowd, moving from table to table making easy small talk. To a woman wearing sequins he stopped and said, “Did you get dressed up for my show? Look how cute you are!” Before leaving the party, Fieri autographed copies of his latest cookbook, “Guy Fieri Food,” and posed for photos with fans.
Fieri’s culinary career started in 1978 when the enterprising sixth-grader started selling soft pretzels out of a cart he and his father built; 20 years of restaurant experience and a trip to France later, he was a successful restaurateur in Santa Rosa, Calif.
But the road to the Guy Fieri Road Show began in earnest when he won Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star” in 2005, launching his first Food Network show, “Guy’s Big Bite,” followed soon after by “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” In 2010, he made the crossover to network television as the host of NBC’s “Minute to Win It.”
The Guy Fieri Road Show takes the personality TV viewers have come to love, backs it up with DJ Cobra providing music and sound effects from a booth onstage, and gives some cooking tips in the process.
After an opening video promising, “This ain’t your mama’s cooking show,” Fieri came onstage with a squeeze bottle in each hand, squirting water high into the air before pointing out to one of his “krew” which sections should be fired on with a T-shirt cannon. Then he told his Canadian audience they were the first.
“After the first tour, we knew if we were going to do another one we wanted it to be international. And Windsor, we’ve done it here tonight!” he said, ramping up the considerable energy in the room.
The rest of the show was a runaway train of cooking and comedy, with the Caesars audience 100 percent onboard. Wearing a yellow and black chef’s coat featuring a skull and crossbones topped with a chef’s hat, Fieri delivered accounts of his childhood and his early restaurant experiences with the nuance and timing of a seasoned comedian. Recounting his first attempt at deep-frying a turkey, Fieri soon had the audience repeatedly inserting the phrase “ice cold beverage” with gusto, right on cue.
Between his onstage stories and video clips of the “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” appearances of his sous chefs, Panini Pete, Gorilla and Stretch, Fieri gave short, sometimes interactive cooking demonstrations. Pouring olive oil into a skillet, he asked audience members what they noticed about the oil as he swirled it in the pan.
“It’s slow!” one called back.
“That’s right — that means it’s not hot enough,” he said, noting that the viscosity of the oil should be more like that of water. “It should be fast in the pan,” he said, putting the skillet back on the stove. “There will be a test on this later.”
Loosely related to food was Fieri’s nod to his “Minute to Win It” fans, for which he pulled volunteers from the audience to participate in the show’s “Face the Cookie” challenge. Fieri narrated the action and the rest of the audience roared as eight fans used only their facial muscles to move two Oreos from their foreheads to their mouths.
In addition to cooking tips, Fieri gave eating tips: Eat with your children and cook with your children to teach them healthy eating habits. In 2009, Fieri helped draft California legislation establishing the second Saturday in May as “Cook With Your Kids Day,” and earlier this year established the Cooking With Kids Foundation (www.cwkfoundation.org) to encourage healthy eating habits and strengthen family relationships by working together in the kitchen.
“We’ve got to cook with our kids,” he told the Windsor audience. “We’ve got to show them where their food comes from.”
Fieri’s 2011 Road Show coincides with the release of “Guy Fieri Food,” a 400-plus-page, hardcover cookbook peppered with stories — some of them stories he tells in the show — of Fieri’s culinary adventures and antics, from pretzel cart to roadshow. But sous chef Stretch, aka Jeff Rumaner, is happy to tell one story the book humbly doesn’t: the impact Fieri and his “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” has had on the restaurant business.
“He’s done a lot for the mom-and-pop places,” Rumaner said. “He’s opened a lot of doors for a lot of people.”