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?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.

He always grates his own Parmesan cheese to go over dishes. ?I?m no fan of the can,? he says.

Going into the last commercial break on one ?Big Bite? recently, Fieri quipped, ?In a minute, one of us is gonna eat.?

Fieri may be hip, but he also comes across on TV as unpretentious. That?s probably his strongest suit on his down-home cooking road show, ?Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.?

In ?Diners,? Guy drives a hot rod to local, non-chain eateries in small towns around the U.S. He visits the kitchen and chats with the cook as well as customers. At one such eatery, in South Carolina, Fieri observed as a huge pot of collard greens was prepared by adding sugar, water and ham hocks.

In another ?Diners,? the cheese sauces and gravy never stopped flowing. In this North Carolina dive, Fieri, arms crossed, watched a huge pancake about 2 feet in diameter being festooned with sausages, then smothered with sausage gravy.

It?s hard to believe a guy who learned his chops in a foodie nirvana like Sonoma County can appreciate such artery-clogging fare, but Fieri said, ?Hey, you can find places like that in Sonoma County. You just have to look.

?But,? he added, ?I do come from the epicenter of food and wine.? And Fieri is proud of his culinary roots, so virtually every week on ?Big Bite,? Fieri gets in a local plug (e.g., ?Here?s my favorite, a Sonoma County white wine.?)

?Every time I do that,? he chuckles, ?my producer asks what I?m getting paid for plugging Sonoma County food and wines. I say, ?Nothing,? which is the truth.?

As for the other end of the culinary scale portrayed in ?Diners,? Fieri said, ?I love looking at the food people actually eat. The show gets me down to basics, things like making pan-fried steak. I get to live in the culture of these folks? food.

?We could solve a lot of the world?s problems,? added Fieri, ?if we all ate together.?

Fieri?s lack of pretentiousness is no TV act, confirms Food Network fan and local math teacher Amy Zigler of Santa Rosa.

?Guy does a benefit each year for us at Windsor High,? she says, ?and he comes across exactly like he does on TV.?

Asked about his down-to-earth persona, Fieri said, ?I got into TV late in life, so I?m not gonna change.?

It?s obvious that Fieri also appeals to male viewers, a group who traditionally don?t watch TV cooking shows. Among the manly-sounding dishes he?s prepared recently: Kickin? Cajun Alfredo, Rock Star Ravioli, Big Bud?s Beer-Can Chicken, Code Red, Slammin? Caesar Salad and Bloody Mary Flank Steak.

Apropos of the latter, Fieri finished one ?Big Bite? by downing a bloody Mary he?d mixed, following with a beer chaser. Let?s see Jacques Pepin do that.

Fieri?s becoming so popular, I just had to ask him: Is he going to become the next Rachael Ray? Are we going to see his photo all over supermarket checkstands?

?I wouldn?t be surprised,? he said, sounding uncharacteristically sheepish, ?if that?s not the next step. We?ve had several magazine meetings.

?But,? he vowed again. ?It?s not gonna change me.?

I believe him. And besides, viewers obviously prefer Guy Fieri when he?s just being himself.

Bill Mann, a North Bay freelancer, writes a weekly TV column for A&E and a humor column for Marketwatch.com. E-mail him at newsmann@mannpublications.org.