I would like to believe I am an open minded person – period. After all, I will eat or attempt to taste just about anything – crawling, live, broiled, boiled, fried….doesn’t that qualify as openness? Reality check my lady. Like a lot of us, I too am guilty of judging the book by its cover.
On the heels of Planet Hollywood Observatory’s recent renovation, I had the privilege of an intimate and heartfelt rendezvous with the infamous triple D’s super star Chef Guy Fieri.
Despite the paparazzis, handlers, and hospitality staff lurking around, for a hot minute (more like 25 minutes), it was just a girl, the Guy, and their common obsession for all things food and wine. Beneath the blonde spikes and deep ink I discovered a gentle giant whose cosmic chakra revolves around his family, food, and laughter.
Hoping to capture a glimpse of the real Guido aka Guy Ramsey Ferry, we asked a few questions:
Primlani Kitchen: Your current food crush?
Guy Fieri: A Phở junkie, I dig Asian food especially Thai, Korean, and Japanese. People don’t understand how useful soy is in any dish. Use too much and it’s super identifiable as soy. Use sparingly like Worcester sauce, it has great depth and umami. And the same can be said for sesame oil or rice wine vinegar.
It’s clean, simple food.
People would prefer to believe my whole life is pizzas, tacos, and burgers. As a person and a chef, who has been on the road for three weeks, the only thing I am looking forward to when I land tomorrow night is a simple, home cooked meal.
Primlani Kitchen: So I have to ask since I am also an Indian. What about Indian food?
Guy Fieri: (Eyes lit) after savoring this phenomenal North Indian restaurant called Punjab in London, my kids and I were on a curry craving quest. My dear friend, and Food Network host Aarti Sequeira shared this Indian cookbook with me and I must have cooked at least 150 or so recipes.
“Another culture that does not get representation as people get stereotypical and don’t branch out”.
Jokes aside, “food is romance”. Did I mention I am headed home? Thinking of Sushi from Morimoto in Napa, makes my mouth water.
Primlani Kitchen: Speaking of Napa, as a wine writer and sommelier I have to ask “we heard through the grape vine you are making wine? Will it make an appearance at Planet Hollywood Observatory?
Guy Fieri: (Beaming with pride) “Yes we are on our 5th vintage”. Named after his two sons, Hunter and Ryder, the winery Hunt & Ryde produces approximately 700 cases of Estate Pinot Noir, Old Vines Zinfandel, and an award winning Meritage combined. Winemaker Guy Davis of Davis Family Vineyards and Guy connected over food, life, family, philosophy, and organic grapes.
“We only have one planet, treat it well. There is no planet B”.
Guy modestly admits – “We drink what we like, I am not a wine snob”. A pinotphile at heart, Guy prefers his juice red.
Primlani Kitchen: 9 restaurants & counting, 10 + food shows, BBQ Hall of fame Inductee, cooking line of BBQ Sauces and Salsas and Flavortown? You’re a super cool, & confident persona. Is there something, anything that fazes you? One rock on crazy moment even for Guy Fieri?
Guy Fieri: (Calmly responds) “I don’t get rattled very easily”. I do run hot very fast and have no off button. I am positive that without the grounding blanket of my family, I would have spun out of this universe’s orbit a long time ago.
With a million things on my plate today, dear friends to catch up with, baller weather in Florida, Yet all I can think about is my 11 yr old Ryder who I haven’t seen in 2 weeks. I just want to get home. Rest of it is pedal to the metal.
Primlani Kitchen: As a Self-anointed spice goddess I have to ask which spice rocks your boat or should we say whet your palate?
Guy Fieri: (Squarely) honestly it is the most under-appreciated, over-utilized, misinterpreted spice.
Primlani Kitchen: You got my attention, spit it out?
Guy Fieri: “Black Peppercorns”. Holding the tableside bottle of black peppercorn mill – “this is the only way we should serve black pepper” (you are preaching to the choir, sire).
(Feisty Fieri appears): Unless you are living under a rock, nobody in today’s world buys pre-ground coffee. It’s acceptable to purchase coffee beans, grind them, and use them over the next two weeks. To reinforce his reasoning he cracks a few peppers in one hand and ground pepper in another. Smell it? I rest my case. It’s not hot. It’s a flavor profile.
Spices are “alive” and they have a shelf life. They have their moment of expiration. UV light, heat, air kills spice. That clear container sitting by your stove is a carousel of death. Might as well use saw dust or dirt. And then you make a dish and question if my recipe was accurate?
Primlani Kitchen: What’s up with Donkey Sauce, Knuckle Sandwich? Share the story behind the name?
Guy Fieri: (Dewy-eyed Guy responds) – Remember your childhood car rides? When we invented games and songs? Life for me is a car ride and I see no reason to make it boring. A pedestrian name like Pastrami Burger vs. Mayor of Flavortown – I have barely finished speaking and you can’t stop smiling.
“It’s not excessive or bizarre, just creatively unconventional deserving of its own moniker”.
(Gazing into my eyes with certitude): “I take food, our industry, cooking, very seriously but I don’t take myself seriously. You have to wake up wanting to do what you love and you got to have fun”.
Simple words that pack a punch.
So I required a LLC to cash in my small Food Network checks. Since my home is the soup kitchen, I invited my best friends to come up with an idea to name my chef company. “Dirty” (we won’t ask why) aka Paul Thompson stated – Diego why don’t you make us something to eat? While you are cooking we will come up with a name.
Animatedly Guy recalls: “Hey Dirty, why don’t I make you a knuckle sandwich?” And the rest my friends is history.
Simple food. Real people.
Primlani Kitchen: Gingerly approaching a controversial question your platform “Cooking with Kids”– how do you justify these angina inducing meals?
Guy Fieri: (Unperturbed, Guy comments) – “I am your chef not your doctor. That said, I much rather have a kid eat one burger than drink unlimited refills of soda”.
Our conversation swiftly swirls into a passionate plea – Education is the key. My 73 yr. mother, who bicycles 120 miles a week is a tiny little thing, who eats and drinks like a sailor. Her motto – eat and drink everything in moderation (& we totally concur).
(Poignantly Guy inquires): “How do we get kids turned on by food and take responsibility for what they eat”? After all what we put in our mouths is who we are. Once we empower education, awareness, and responsibility, kids can make choices – good choices. As bad choices are typically uneducated decisions.
Cooking with Kids is a bigger vision. One that involves enlightening kids about the fundamentals of cooking, refined foods, acknowledging special treats such as vacations and Knuckle Sandwiches. We don’t get kids enthusiastic about cooking Brussel sprouts. We capture their attention with something they enjoy (pizzas and burgers) and eventually we transform them away from the movie trailer.
PLEASE feed your kids raw salad, green vegetables, unprocessed grains, every day.
Good talk spice goddess!
I skipped away, ready to face the mountain of obstacles life hurls our way, armed with an infectious smile and resolution to do better by my kids.
Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. And Guy Fieri, genuine, warm, witty, sporting laughter as his clock of armor, successfully inspires and reminds us to appreciate the simpler things in life we take for granted: family, food, and mother earth.
Planet Hollywood Observatory, now open, with a much-anticipated new menu created in partnership with dynamic chef and television personality, Guy Fieri. Menu includes six Big Bite Burgers , Knuckle Sandwiches, Lobster Feast Fra Diavolo, Vegetarian options such as Morgan’s Veggie, Pimento Grilled Cheese, Citrus Kale, and Spinach & Berries. Sweet finales include Chocolate Comet and Strawberry Borealis. Cream Challenge, Planet Melt Down, and Brownie Sundae Martini.
Photo Credit: Bokeh Studio.