?There?s no such thing,? says bling-wearing TV star chef Guy Fieri, ?as biting off more than you can chew.?
If anyone is proof of this, it?s the hard-working 41-year-old Santa Rosan who hosts the Food Network?s ?Guy?s Big Bite?: He has three shows on that cable network and may soon have a fourth. Plus, he?s doing the national TV commercials for restaurant chain T.G.I. Friday?s. And, Fieri still keeps his hand in the restaurants he and partner Steve Gruber run in Northern California, including Tex Wasabi's Rock-n-Roll Sushi-BBQ and Johnny Garlic's in Santa Rosa.
Only two years after winning ?The Next Food Network Star? competition, Fieri?s hotter than the Red Chili Brisket Tamales he whipped together recently on ?Big Bite.?
His road show, ?Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,? has become the Food Network?s top-rated program. Plus, Fieri also hosts Food?s ?Ultimate Recipe Showdown.? And just last week, the network had Fieri shoot pilot shows at its New York studios in front of a live audience (think ?Emeril Live?) for a fourth show, ?Guy Off the Hook.?
?Know what?s funny?? said Fieri, whose trademark spiky white hair looks like it could cause severe tire damage. ?<TH>?Guy Off The Hook? was the name I originally wanted for ?Big Bite.?<TH>?
How meteoric has Fieri?s TV career been?
Last year, the Navy flew the mesomorphic, hip-hop talking chef to the Persian Gulf to entertain and cook for the troops.
But an episode at New York?s Shea Stadium last month when he was singled out from the stage at Billy Joel?s huge concert amazed even Fieri. Joel stopped in the middle of his signature tune, ?Piano Man,? after spotting Fieri in the crowd.
?Hey, you?re that chef guy from TV. I like you!? said the pop star. ?Say hi to my wife!? Joel added.
?It?s still giving me goose bumps,? Fieri said by cell phone the other day as he tooled around Connecticut, scouting out-of-the-way local eateries for future ?Diners? episodes. ?I just about died. This happened in front of 45,000 people.
?I was texting my two boys back in Sonoma County, Hunter and Ryder, when it happened. I?d never even met Billy Joel. And then, backstage, Garth Brooks waved at me.?
Fieri?s film crew for ?Diners,? he said, is ?always on the road.? And so, it seems, is Fieri, who tries to spend two weeks a month in Sonoma County, hangin? with his boys.
?That?s one of the things we?re discussing now in contract negotiations," said the business-savvy Fieri. ?How much time I get to spend in Sonoma County.?
(When Fieri tapes ?Bite? in New York, his homies sometimes come to visit. One recent ?Guy?s Big Bite? featured Fieri?s sister Morgan shooting pool in the kitchen/rec room set with two guys Fieri called ?my Sonoma County crew.? He identified them only as ?Possum? and ?Part-Time.?)
Fieri?s a natural for TV, where he has always looked at ease and where he constantly fires off lines like, ?This bird?s ready to fly? (as he puts a spiced-up chicken in the oven) and later, ?It?s on ? like Donkey Kong!?
?This is gonna be money!? he said as he whipped together a pasta dish on one ?Bite,? during which he?s in constant motion.
Unlike most TV hosts ? cooks or otherwise ? Fieri?s on-camera patter is actually funny and entertaining.