It’s hard to keep up with Guy Fieri these days as he adds more television shows to his repetroire. He’s currently working on the Food Network on Guy’s Big Bite and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. He appears as a guest judge on the Next Food Network Star (which he won during its second season) and works on Tailgate Warriors. He also hosts the NBC primetime game show Minute To Win It and is about to be seen in a reality show with Rachael Ray about celebrities in competition for a cookoff.
No matter where he is in the world and what show he’s cooking for, there is one constant in the life of Guy Fieri– family. He even built a house for his parents right next to the one he lives in with wife Lori and sons Ryder and Hunter so they could be around 24/7.
Fieri released a new cookbook, Guy Fieri Food: Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It in the spring. The book was a big hit, but it also came at a very emotional time. When he sat down at the Atlantic City Food Network Food and Wine Festival, he talked about what was really happening before its release and the importance of his family above all else. (The point was well taken when he showed up for the interview with son Ryder on his shoulder.)
TravelFoodandDrink.com: How did everything go with the release of the book?
Guy Fieri: Well, the book was a very emotional thing for me. This tattoo that I have on my arms is about my little sister. My little sister passed away in February. It was heartbreaking. She had melanoma. She had cancer when she was a little kid so we battled it for years as a family and it was just the most devastating thing I had happen in my life.
It was very interesting because the book was finished, and the book has a lot. This was the book that I wrote saying, ‘this may be the last book that I do.’ Not that I think it will be — we have a big book deal that we are getting ready to launch right now — but I thought this may be the last book and I’m putting it all in this book.
Ironically enough, as the book is being written, my sister was losing the battle. We got to the end of the book and it was dedicated to my mom, my dad and my sister. I had already dedicated things to Lori and the boys, so I thought this would be great to do. Then my sister passed. The book was going to print and I called my publisher at Harper Collins, Cassie Jones. I said, ‘I need to change the dedication.’
She said, ‘We are so far down the road we can’t.’
I then said, ‘This is more important to me than anything. I’ll pay to have it changed. Let me send you a picture.’
So I sent her the drawing that I had to make that tattoo. ‘Namaste’ was something that my sister would say to me every day. ‘Namaste,’ which means the God in me. She was such a teacher of our family. She would tell us about organics and about recycling and I’d be like, ‘c’mon.’ but she would always be in my ear about it again and again. She would always be saying that as a message, so we put that as the dedication of the book.
It gave me the biggest sigh of relief because what it does for me — and it does for my parents and my nephew — is that my sister lives on forever. My sister lives on in the book shelves and in the homes, with the families of people forever. And that’s a weird thing that that’s what I needed to do, but it’s like climbing the highest mountain and scratching her name in the world. It’s incredibly cathartic.
TravelFoodandDrink.com: What’s your next tattoo?
Guy Fieri: I think I’m getting a joker card, or a jack, or one of the two, of Hunter and Ryder. One side of the card will be Hunter and the other side of the card will be Ryder. Just because they are a couple of jokers.
TravelFoodandDrink.com: With all the shows, you don’t get much time off, but when you do, how do you spend it?
Guy Fieri: We have a cabin up in Northern California that has no electricity and no running water. You have to get to it by boat. We go across from the marina, load all our stuff in the boat and take our dogs. It’s built on the side of a hill so the deck comes out and it’s got some 30 foot drops from the deck. It kind of looks like Swiss Family Robinson. I do a lot of my writing up there. I do a lot of my recipe development. I bring the craziest things up there. I’ll be packing up the truck and Lori will look at me, ‘what the…? Buffalo oil, seriously?!’
It’s great. Ironically, they did put a cell phone tower in the mountains, but no cell phones are allowed. If I catch you with a cell phone, I will chuck it… And the reason is it’s because it’s shut down time. It’s kids’ time. It’s fishing time. It’s wakeboard time.
TravelFoodandDrink.com: How do you decide what to cook?
Guy Fieri: My wife asked me the other day while we were sitting in the car who was coming to the lake and what everybody was bringing. We went through two stop lights and she said, ‘This is what drives me nuts, would you just answer me?’
I said, ‘I’m processing the question.’
She said, ‘It’s just name and item.’
I said, ‘It’s just not name and item. Do you understand what my mind has to go through…
What am I making and what day am I making it, because if I’m making it on one day, who’s going to make that, cause I can’t have two Mexican on the same day… If I do have two Mexican on the same day, I don’t want to have heavy meat, but if it’s heavy meat, I’ve got to have salad, and if we have salad, we’ve got to have a vegetable… Who’s going to bring what vegetable? Who’s going to cook it and where’s the vegetable available?’
And she goes, ‘Is that really what’s going on in there? That’s ridiculous. It’s a lot easier for me to say Dustin’s bringing salami sandwiches.’
I said, ‘No, no, no. I have to do a whole algorithm. I have to break down the spreadsheets. And it’s not that I’m so detailed oriented, it’s just that’s the way I think. ‘
By Marcia Frost