Guy Fieri looks at the concert-club scene and thinks it’s missing food. Or maybe it’s that the food scene needs more of a club-concert vibe. Actually, it doesn’t really matter.
“Why can’t we have a concert with food? Your typical cooking demonstration, there’s just no enthusiasm,” he said. “There’s no energy behind it. I said, ‘What if we take a cooking demonstration and fortify it with a lot of good music?. . . . Drive it to the next level?’ ”
You know what’s coming next: The Guy Fieri Road Show kicks off Tuesday for 30 days and 21 stops featuring a concert-style cooking tour with a DJ -- L.A.'s DJ Cobra -- and an onstage mixologist to attend to, among other things, a 6-foot-tall, 25-gallon margarita maker. Fieri pulls up to the Gibson Amphitheatre on Dec. 17, and he’s in Las Vegas on Dec. 19.
Billed as “food meets rock” and “everything they won’t let me do on TV,” it’s not just the concept that screams rock star. The higher-end ticket prices do too: At the Gibson, seats start at $24.75 and top out at $250 per person for stage seating and a chance to sample what Fieri is cooking and some of that Margaritaville.
Fieri shot to fame after winning Season 2 of “The Next Food Network Star” -- a kind of “American Idol” for foodies. From there he earned one of the most enviable hosting gigs in the land: “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” on which he tours the country looking for great food finds. That show has spun off two books, including one that recently hit bookshelves. Among his other hosting duties: the more traditional Food Network cooking show “Guy’s Big Bite,” although there’s not much convention about his spiky bleached-blond hair, trademark bowling shirts, hipster wristwatches and the ever-present pair of shades.
If last month’s New York City Wine & Food Festival was any indication, Fieri’s fans definitely want more Guy time. He was mobbed everywhere he went by fans who hit multiple quadrants, as they say. He appeals to kids -- he often refers to his own boys, Hunter and Ryder. He’s a guy’s Guy, of course. And, again, if the festival was any indication, the ladies like him too.
But that was a Food Network festival. This is a national concert tour playing theaters that are 2,000- to 5,000-seat venues.
Tickets for Guy Fieri Road Show went on sale in September, and so far, according to www.guyfieri.com, none has sold out. Has Fieri, who enraptures audiences while he tries one decadent dish after another, bitten off more than he can chew?
Fieri says he’s not worried. The road show is one big food-fueled experiment, he said. While more chefs and cooking personalities are turning to public appearances to connect with fans (and, not coincidentally, rake in the bucks), a food concert tour like this has never quite been done before.
“It is wacky, it’s definitely outside the box, it’s a component that we haven’t seen before, so we will see what happens,” he said during a telephone interview on his way to a New Jersey book signing for “More Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
He added: “As long as the people who are there aren’t bored.”
Picking the music for the show was one of the challenges Fieri faced putting the tour together. Fieri is a music hound -- he has more than 5,000 tunes on his iPod, spanning Enya, Public Enemy, Willie Nelson and Metallica -- and he’s always looking for something new. But new won’t translate in this realm.
“We want audience participation and dancing . . . [the music] needs to be across-the-board understandable,” he said. “It will be everything from old school rock ‘n’ roll to theme-oriented stuff, ‘Mas Tequila’ by Sammy Hagar.”
Fieri also answered a speed round of questions: What’s with using the back of your head to park your sunglasses? Is that an affected look? Actually, Fieri said, it’s a fool-proof way of keeping tabs on his roughly 85 pairs of shades. “I never lose them, I always know where they are. I don’t have a man bag or anything.”
It seems like he always likes what he eats on “Diners.” How is that possible? Easy, he said, it’s called editing. Both in terms of footage and places picked.
He can’t pick his single favorite diner, drive-in or dive because it’s too much good stuff. Just when you think you’ve had the best burger ever, another one comes along, so why bother keeping count?
Finally, why isn’t Fieri fat?
“I would love to have some grand answer. I definitely eat in moderation and exercise. . . . I think there’s a misconception that I eat everything. The one or two bites that you see me take, that’s it.”