Santa Rosa chef's 'road show' billed as being where 'food meets rock'

HOLLYWOOD - 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 this week for 30 days and 21 stops featuring a concert-style cooking tour with a disc jockey -- Los Angeles DJ Cobra -- and an onstage mixologist to attend to, among other things, a 6-foot-tall 25-gallon margarita maker.

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 a Los Angeles date Dec. 17, 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, of Santa Rosa's Johnny Garlic's and Tex Wasabi restaurants, shot to fame after winning Season 2 of "The Next Food Network Star" -- an "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 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 ever-present pair of shades.

If the New York City Wine & Food Festival in October was any indication, Fieri's fans definitely want more Guy time. He was mobbed 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-seat 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. Although 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."

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