Weekly Dish: Guy Fieri Speaks
Diablo chats with Food Network star on his new Dublin restaurant, cooking for John Madden, and his stolen Lamborghini. Plus, Arnold Pulido leaves Va de Vi, and more in this week's Dish!
Guy Fieri at his Santa Rosa restaurant
So, I had a chance to sit down with Food Network star Guy Fieri on Tuesday at his original restaurant, Johnny Garlic's in Santa Rosa. He's a real nice guy and was very generous with his time, especially considering how busy he is: Fieri hosts four television shows, has five restaurants, has a new cookbook coming out (his third), and is about to go on a roadshow tour across the U.S. in May. (He'd just come back from a surprise appearance cooking for legendary football coach and announcer John Madden's 75th birthday party in Pleasanton).
You can expect a larger piece in our July issue, but here are a few tidbits from what was a fun, wide-ranging interview.
On his new Johnny Garlic's in Dublin: So, it looks like the new Johnny Garlic's in Dublin has an estimated opening date of June 1 now. Fieri did say that all the staff has already been hired and trained for the new restaurant, and that he was really looking forward to the opening, especially since it would give him and his buddies a closer place to hang out after Raider's games (he's a big fan).
"This is the next big step in our company. You'll see a little different style and decor, and you'll see a whole variety of new items on the menu. This is our newest location and first since 2008, so I think coming down to Dublin, we're putting everything into it—this is the next generation of Johnny Garlic's."
On meeting and cooking for John Madden: "He's a great guy. I met him at the Super Bowl this year and it was amazing, because when I came walking up to him—to meet coach Madden, what a great honor—and I wasn't even able to get out 'hello coach,' when he says, 'Guy! When are you opening that restaurant in Dublin?' I was speechless, I didn't even know how to respond. So when his family asked me to come and cook for his birthday, it was an honor. And all my buddies are Raiders fans, so it was pretty easy to get a roster of people to come and help out."
On his stolen Lamborghini: You may have heard the news that Guy's $200,000 Lamborghini was stolen in spectacular fashion a few weeks ago—the food blogs (and non-food blogs, really) had a field day with it. He's since replaced it with a yellow (his color of choice) Chevy Camaro convertible. I'm not sure if he's commented since it happened, but I had to ask about it. It was an interesting (and kind of amusing) response. Fieri doesn't want to make a big deal about it and realizes that there are more important things—but at the same time, he's clearly irritated by the theft. In fact, this mega-celebrity chef sounds like just about anyone I've ever spoken with who had their car stolen or broken into—albeit on a much more expensive scale. Here's what he had to say:
"I was definitely bummed out. I really liked that car, it had a real sentimental license plate cover that was given to me by a friend that was irreplaceable, so that was a bummer. It's tough just having anything taken from you, feeling violated, insurance or not. You know, I used to have the Lamborghini Countach poster in my room when I was a kid, and I remember always looking at it and thinking: I'm going to buy a car like that some day. I remember looking at the Lamborghini for the last four or five years and just going 'one day, I'm going to get a car like that.' And then, this turn of events happened and I got one, and it was my pride and joy. I loved that car, I took such good care of it: It only had 1,400 miles on it. So, for someone to steal it, it's really, really a bummer, man.
But, I've got two healthy kids, I've got a couple of other hot rods, I've got some other stuff going on. If you dwell on it, it really gets to be sour, but the reality of it is I wasn't car-jacked, nobody was hurt—and it was done with quite a bit of flair. So it's just how you look at it. But, it was still a real bummer. I actually thought I was getting Punk'd: I was with my film crew in Chicago and I was on the phone hearing about it, and I said to them, 'If anyone is filming this right now and I'm getting Punk'd, someone's in deep trouble!' And I know, no one wants to hear you whine about it, but walking into my garage and looking at the spot where it used to be..."
So does he think he'll get it back? "No way—they were never going to find it. In my opinion, that car made it into a shipping container and is gone."
You might have read on our blog roll earlier this week that executive chef Arnold Pulido and popular Walnut Creek restaurant Va de Vi have parted ways. I spoke with Va de Vi owner John Walz, who told me the exit was by mutual agreement and had been planned for a while for Pulido, who had been with the restaurant since 2006 (he replaced Kelly Degala as executive chef in 2009).
"I think after five years, both parties agreed that it was time for a change," Walz said. "Arnold and I had a great run and we wish nothing but the best for each other."
Taking the helm of the Diablo Food Award winner and perennial Chronicle top-100 small plates eatery is Shane McAnelly, formerly the executive sous chef at Zero Zero (the new San Francisco Italian eatery that made the Chronicle's Top-100 list in its first year in business), and before that, he worked at Garibaldi's on College Avenue in Rockridge.
"He brings a great pedigree from two awesome restaurants," Walz says, adding, "We have no plans to change our concept or our style, we'll continue with international small plates and our wine bar program. Most of our all-time favorites will remain and over time, Shane will add some of his own."
A quick kudos out to the folks at Prima Ristorante in Walnut Creek, who raised over $50,000 with their impromptu wine auction to benefit the relief effort for earthquake/tsunami-stricken Japan. And of course, thanks to all the restaurateurs who stepped up and continue to step up in that relief effort. Along those lines, there's a Japan fundraiser happening up in Wine Country that looks like it would be a pretty amazing experience for foodies.
Commis chef James Syhabout is one of the all-star chefs who will be participating in a joint reception and dinner at Shimo Modern Steak and Cyrus in Healdsburg on Tuesday, April 19. The event will include a one-hour reception at Shimo and a six-course dinner at Cyrus, with courses prepared by Corey Lee of Benu, Michael Cimarusti of Providence, David Kinch of Manresa, Syhabout (quail with cauliflower and spring onions perfumed with charcoal), chefs Douglas Keane and Drew Glassell of Cyrus, and a dessert from Cyrus chef Nicole Plue—plus a bunch of excellent local wines.
It's $450, but that's quite a collection of chefs and the money does go to a good cause. CLICK HERE for more information and the complete menu. Call (707) 433-3311 to reserve a seat.
I was fortunate enough to attend Wine Enthusiast's Toast of the Town event on April 7 and was very glad I went. These events can always be a little chaotic and haphazard but this one was great, and because it was held in San Francisco's spacious (and absolutely beautiful) City Hall, the vibe was pleasantly relaxed. To go along with the more than 500 great wines from vineyards all over the world, there was also exceptionally good food available with such great restaurants such as Saison, One Market, and Farallon attending, as well as East Bay representatives Wente, Flora, and Home of Chicken and Waffles (soon to open in Walnut Creek).
CLICK HERE to check out some photos I took at the event.