Categories
Celebrity Grub Fast Food Feel Good Restaurants Theme Parks

Guy Fieri Shares Some Heartwarming Stories From Feeding Carr Fire Victims And Firefighters

Guy Fieri has been the face of Food Network for over a decade now. Since 2006, shows like Guy’s Big Bite and the iconic Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives have become fixtures in the world of food media. Despite all of the accolades he’s received from these programs, Fieri hasn’t slowed down one bit during his time in the spotlight.

The Mayor of Flavortown has been working on getting Chicken Guy!, his new fried chicken tenders concept, to its official launch inside of Disney World’s Disney Springs district. That requires a ton of focus and energy, yet Fieri still took some time to go help feed firefighters battling the Carr Fire with little to no publicity.

We spoke with the foodie troubadour over the phone to catch up on his latest stories and discuss just what Fieri’s work in the food space has done to impact others.

Dishing On Chicken Guy!

guy fieri

Foodbeast: You’re looking at making Chicken Guy! a fried chicken chain. What made you decide to open the first location in Disney Springs?

Guy Fieri: Disney plays at the top level in all shape and forms, they’ve got so many different aspects and restaurants that if you can make it through their approval process and all of the concepts that are doing so well, you’re in the line of fire and really get a great chance to test it out. And it’s Disney, you gotta love Disney and my kids love Disney. And [Chicken Guy! co-founder] Robert Earle has Planet Hollywood here.

We developed the menu and curated it a couple of years ago. And listen, we got the opportunity to open up in one of the biggest stages in the world, right here at Disney in Orlando.

FB: So I know that Chicken Guy! is going to focus mainly on the tenders world and you’re going the fast casual route. As you’re expanding, you’re gonna find yourself competing against places like Cane’s and Zaxby’s. Compared to these guys, how is Chicken Guy! gonna take us to Flavortown? What’s the secret sauce here?

GF: You’ve got the right attitude and track there, you understand that this is a member of Flavortown. Here’s what it is: everybody’s got their own style, their own method, their own jam that they do. That doesn’t mean that one band is better than the other, you’re just rolling with the music and the band that you like the best. And what we’re doing is outrageous, from non-frozen chicken raised without antibiotics, quality tenders with a really fantastic brine, the hand breading, the pressure frying, all of that is generating such a delicious tender that, on its own, tastes fantastic.

chicken guy

But we don’t stop there, we take it to the next level and offer 22 different scratch-made proprietary dipping sauces. But then you can take it even a step further with how you enjoy the tenders. You can have it as a sandwich, on loaded mac and cheese, loaded fries, salads… you name it, we got a way to enjoy it. But it’s knowing that if it’s from Flavortown, it’s the real deal.

Let me tell you something, I know how rough it is getting into the chicken game, I know everybody’s out there, they’ve been doing it for a while. So I told Robert Earle, my partner in crime, “I’m gonna make you a chicken tender that is going to blow your mind. If we’re gonna do this, if we’re gonna go nationwide or go global, I’ve gotta make you something that is going to turn heads.” You wait till you try it, give me a shoutout when you try it, let me know what you think.

Rescue Relief And Feeding The Carr Fire Victims And Firefighters

FB: I think there’s a lot of people that are really grateful that you took some time to go up to Redding with little to no publicity and help feed those affected by the Carr Fire but also giving the firefighters something to eat to keep going and fight those fires.

GF: I got a ton of interview requests in relation to that when it was happening. And as much as I love the media for what they’ve done for me, I said to everybody, listen, this is not about me, this is not about a celebrity doing this, this is just a dude. I’ve got 15 of my buddies, my son — who’s in the last part of his summer vacation — two of his best friends, I’ve got a couple of my buddies that don’t even know how to cook, and a guy whose house had just burned down. We had a real hodgepodge of people coming together to feed people in need. Not just the firefighters, people in the rescue shelters that just had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That was just about taking care of my brothers and sisters, and helping folks.

It’s sad to see a tragedy like that happen, but it’s beautiful to see what a great country we come from and how much our neighbors and community members step up. So we’re in the parking lot of the Shasta Community College in Redding. We’re cooking, we got there late in the evening, we already had the smokers up and running with pork butts, getting ready to serve 700 people the next day for lunch. And people started showing up, this guy came and asked “Can I help you?” I said “Yeah, we got enough people, but I can use more help.” And he says “Well I’m the head baseball coach here and I got the keys to the cafeteria, we can wash dishes over there.” Another guy comes up and says “Hey, I’m the head football coach, I got some volunteers, we can get a golf cart, we can drive stuff back and forth.”

It was just amazing! These guys, they’re the head coaches, they have their seasons going on, they’re dropping everything to help these people they don’t even know! That was the beauty. In such a tragedy, there were some silver linings. It was great to be able to help, and I think everyone would do the same given the opportunity.

FB: While your team was helping out with the Carr Fire, you had the chance to work with Jose Andres, who’s been working and aiding in disaster relief around the world. What was it like teaming up with him?

GF: Jose and I have been brothers for a long time, and to be honest, when I saw Jose’s efforts down in Puerto Rico, and I was in the middle of filming and couldn’t leave the studio and had all kinds of things hinging on me to finish production. So I said I was going to donate and to help pay for the food. And of course, he was alright with that.

It’s the energy that Jose and I and all the other chefs that are volunteering and getting involved, it’s all of that. Jose will be able to tell you that. It’s raising the awareness of the support that’s needed and recognizing that just because the fire is out doesn’t mean that the devastation is over. And we need to do this around the world. Puerto Rico is still going through such tragedy, and all of these other countries. So Jose and I talk on a regular basis about how we’re going to continue to act and continue to support and help those in need. What we do as chefs is that we have the skill of feeding people, and at a certain point, it’s the most important thing that there is.

I haven’t run into a chef that isn’t willing to jump into it. There was a chef who worked for the Sheraton Hotel in Redding. We didn’t know each other, but he pulled up and he said, “Whatever I can do to help, my full kitchen is at your disposal.” And I’m cooking on camp stoves in the middle of a parking lot at 110 degrees.

There’s just this brotherhood of chefs that comes together, and Jose Andres is a great example and really one of the leaders in that group.

Guy Fieri’s Legacy With Food Network And In Food Media

FB: You’ve been with Food Network and been one of the faces of both it and food media for over a decade now, which is incredible.

GF: A decade, a decade… (laughing). I still can’t believe that. There was one of our producers at a shoot recently in Arkansas, and he said to me it’s amazing to think this has been going for a decade. It’s funny to hear someone say that.

FB: How do you feel having been in that role and being that figurehead for so long, with all the shows you’ve had?

GF: I honestly can’t say thank you enough. I try to give back, and I try to say thank you any time I can. When you get the opportunities that I’ve been grateful to have, you try to give back in any way that you can. Whether it’s for the elderly, for the nonprofits, or for veteran’s groups, we’ll have them on shows and find ways to celebrate veterans. We try to find ways to celebrate families, celebrate kids. It’s just overwhelming in respect to all that’s happened, and with all of the fans, I want to give back to them. I want to be out there hanging out with the fans. They’ve been a huge reason for the success and have helped generate shows that changed lives.

You know, we’ve been to over 1100 locations with Triple D, and with all the places we’ve been to, it’s not been about me. It’s about these communities and these families and what they’re doing, and we shine a light on what they’re making. These are places that already exist, and I just appreciate the opportunity to see them. It’s been quite a ride.

FB: With all of these locations you’ve been to, have any of these become go-to spots when you’re back in town?

GF: Oh, without question. The funny thing is, we have this new show that shows the legacy of these locations, it’s called Triple D Nation. And with being all over the country, the only places we have missed are South Dakota, North Dakota, and Delaware. How we haven’t hit there, I don’t know, and we hadn’t hit Arkansas until just this past week. But otherwise, we’ve been to it if you name it. We’ve even been to Europe with Triple D. So we’re getting these last few states, making sure they’re getting their presence on Triple D.

What Triple D Nation is about is not going back and celebrating and saying what has Triple D done for you. It’s more asking what have you done since you appeared on the show. What have you experienced since you were all over TV and all over the news because of this experience, and it’s awesome. It’s awesome to see places that have opened multiple locations that have paid off their mortgage, put their kids through college, all these different things that have taken place.

But yeah, there’s quite a few. We go back to a town and we’ve got friends that have become lifelong friends, places that have helped develop and mentor other restaurants, there’s more than I can even mention.

 


Author’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and accuracy. 

All photos courtesy of Disney World and Chicken Guy!
Categories
Celebrity Grub Now Trending

Bobby Flay Explains Why He Dramatically Quit Iron Chef In Middle Of Taping

Bobby Flay made his name with over 15 years worth of Iron Chef showdowns, but his Food Network competition days came to an abrupt end back in October after he made a dramatic exit from the show.

On-set sources revealed to Vanity Fair that during the taping of the new Iron Chef Showdown, Flay took off his apron and revealed a shirt that read, “THIS IS MY LAST IRON CHEF BATTLE EVER.”

It was definitely not something the show’s producers were expecting, and when they rushed the stage to tell Flay that it would be hard to edit out his shirt, he reportedly said, “I know. That’s the point.”

After the incident, Flay tried to say it was a joke, but at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival this weekend, he confirmed that he indeed is done with Iron Chef, saying:

“I’ve done over 100 Iron Chef competitions and frankly they are exhausting. When I do a season, I do between 6 and 8 [battles] in a week and it crushes me because it’s 60 minutes of pure energy, creativity and execution. So at some point I was like, ‘I’ve been doing this for a long time and I want to go out on a high note.'”

Flay then went on to say that he wanted it to be a surprise, and boy was Food Network surprised, as Flay said they were a little peeved at him for the shirt stunt.

Still, Flay said no bridges were burned and he’s still proud of his time on Iron Chef, but it’s a young man’s game now, and he seems at peace with that.

Categories
Celebrity Grub Film/Television News

Food Network’s ‘The Best Thing I Ever Ate’ Is Rebooting Next Week

As a teen, one of the biggest shows that fueled my growing food obsession was Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate. The show, where six seasons spanned across the entirety of my high school career, opened me up to a world of intricate dishes and epic eats that I had never seen before, and inspired me to want to travel and partake in new culinary experiences. Now, six years after the last episode aired, we have official confirmation that the show is finally making a comeback.

Cooking Channel will be picking up a reboot of the original series, a Food Network representative has confirmed to Foodbeast. The first episode will air next Monday, December 11th at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT. Several of the celebrity chefs and food personalities that have been on the show in the past will be returning, including Alton Brown, Duff Goldman, and food writer/TV personality Simon Majumdar. There will also be a flurry of newcomers, including chef and butcher Justin Brunson and former Masterchef finalist Monti Carlo.

Just like the old show, episodes will focus on a central theme, with each chef revealing what their favorite eats were based on it. The first episode, for example, will focus on foods that are worth standing in line for.

With the new iteration of The Best Thing I Ever Ate arriving next week, restaurants that get featured can expect to get lot more fame, and many more hungry and eager customers, as a result.

Categories
Film/Television

There’s ANOTHER Iron Chef Series Coming Out And The Chairman Returns

Not too long ago, Food Network revived one of their most iconic series: Iron Chef. Named Iron Chef Gauntlet, the show brought back fan-favorite host Alton Brown as he introduced the world to a new generation of chefs hungry for the Iron Chef title.

Well, it looks like fans will get another hearty serving of Iron Chef with a new series called Iron Chef Showdown according to Food Network. This series, however, will have something that Gauntlet was gravely missing: Mark Dacascos, ‘The Chairman’ from the original US series.

Fans of the original US series will remember Dacascos’ eccentric Chairman who would announce the secret ingredient at the beginning of every episode. His flamboyant personality and gratuitous backflips made him a beloved figure in Iron Chef lore.

Notable food celebrities slated to appear include Bobby Flay, Jose Garces, Michael Symon, and many others. Grubstreet reports that the series will air sometime in the 4th quarter of 2017 with Alton Brown returning to host.

Categories
Film/Television Video

‘Iron Chef Gauntlet’ Is Food Network’s Modern Take On The Classic Show

The hit Food Network show Iron Chef is back… well, kind of.

The channel’s new spin on this classic show, Iron Chef Gauntlet, just premiered yesterday, and it feels more like a modern-age competition/reality show than the Iron Chef of old.

Instead of the traditional Iron Chef style of two top-rated chefs squaring off in an intense culinary showdown, seven chefs will now be trekking through a series of episodes in an elimination-style reality/cooking competition show to have the chance to face three Iron Chefs and join their ranks if all three are defeated.

The pilot episode had chefs making a single dish based around a specific theme (in this case, wilderness food) and presenting them to host Alton Brown for tasting and judging. This was very akin to several of the dish challenges you’d find in the first half of a Hell’s Kitchen or Top Chef episode, since they also have single dish challenges based around themes for the individual chefs to cook, even when on separate teams.

Alton put on his best Gordon Ramsay impression while tasting, even pretending not to like someone’s dish before praising it. The drama of that moment definitely made me feel like I was watching Hell’s Kitchen or some other contemporary reality cooking show, not Iron Chef.

Afterwards, the worst chef from the challenge and one chef picked by the winner faced off in an elimination challenge. This is where two chefs make a trio of dishes based on a secret ingredient, which then gets judged. The loser of that challenge gets eliminated, and the remaining chefs move on to the next episode.

Basically, this TV show keeps the essence of Iron Chef with the secret ingredients, but all of the challenges are ones you’d find in already existing and successful shows, like MasterChef, Top Chef, and Hell’s Kitchen.

If that sounds interesting to you, definitely check out the first episode above and see if you’re down to continue watching. If so, you can catch new episodes on Sundays at 9 pm EST/ 8 PM CST on Food Network.

While it may be a mashup of modern shows and concepts and not really like the original show, Iron Chef Gauntlet is still an interesting concept nonetheless.

Categories
Culture Film/Television Opinion

Food Network’s ‘Shortcut Chicken Shawarma’ Is A Middle Finger To Authentic Shawarma Lovers

First-time shawarma makers looking for an authentic take on the beloved street food should definitely NOT use this recipe.

For those unfamiliar, shawarma is a traditional Middle Eastern street food item, made from slicing pieces of marinated and spit-roasted meat and cramming them into pita bread. It’s usually served with fresh vegetables, a tangy tahini (sesame seed paste) or yogurt-based sauce, and some optional pickled vegetables.

Food Network uploaded a video to Facebook claiming to be a “Shortcut Chicken Shawarma” that makes cooking the popular street food at home “EASY.” However, to call what Food Network has uploaded a “shawarma” is a true affront to the dish.

A post shared by FoodieAddict (@foodieaddict1) on

This shawarma recipe, to be fair, is close to what a real shawarma is. However, someone not familiar with it could be cooking this recipe at home and could easily mistake this for real shawarma, proving to be an awkward and most importantly un-authentic first experience with the dish.

I understand that the Food Network was trying to make a shawarma recipe simple for anyone who’s never made it before and doesn’t know where to start. At the same time, I also know that Foodbeast has been attributed to promoting un-authentic takes on traditional global cuisines. However, we never claim non-traditional iterations to be “real” authentic dishes.

If left unchecked, this shawarma recipe could eventually become a reference for amateur cooks looking to try their hand at authentic shawarma, leading them astray of a true recipe for that street food as a result.

A post shared by Lisa Wu (@lisasa) on

My first concern with the shawarma recipe is the usage of pumpkin pie spice in the marinade. I get that using spice blends means you can purchase less and get a variety of spices, but when you incorporate them into a cultural recipe, make sure you get the spices right.

Real Middle Eastern spices for a shawarma involve ones like cinnamon and nutmeg, but also authentic aromatics like sumac and cardamom.

As bad as utilizing pumpkin spice is for a recipe, it’s nothing compared to how the recipe ruined the sauce by deciding to use the disgusting combination of hummus and mayo. They could’ve gone for a simple yogurt sauce, or a more traditional and tasty tahini-based dressing, both of which are zesty, light, and refreshing. Instead, we’re treated to a unappetizing glop of thick and vomit-like paste that can’t be saved by the paltry amount of fresh garlic mixed in to justify the hummus-mayo combo as a “garlic sauce.”

The proverbial cherry on top of this cultural disaster is the dill pickle that is added in at the last possible second. Yes, pickled vegetables are incorporated. No, that doesn’t mean throwing in a Vlassic spear. A quick run to a Middle Eastern or international market could yield a jar of pickled veggies in no time.

A post shared by Geoffrey Wilson (@geoff_lw) on

Overall, the resulting recipe that comes out of this looks like shawarma and may evoke a similar flavor profile to shawarma. However, it is not true authentic shawarma, and for Food Network to advertise their recipe as such is cultural appropriation at its worst.

Get your head out of the gutter, Food Network, and get back to making legit recipes that won’t inspire people to mix hummus and mayo together.

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss News

Food Network Just Announced The Iron Chef Reboot

Finally. #IronChefGauntlet

A photo posted by Alton Brown (@altonbrown) on

Fans of Iron Chef America will be stoked to hear that the show is coming back. According to Variety, Food Network announced a brand new retooling of the show with culinary mad genius and funny man Alton Brown returning as the host.

The new series will be called Iron Chef Gauntlet and viewers can expect some new twists on the series’ classic format. While the original series featured notable chefs like Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, and Michael Symon, there’s still no word on who will appear in Gauntlet. Though with Food Network’s extensive talent pool of chefs, it’s safe to say we’ll get some pretty big fish from the culinary waters.

Iron Chef aired for 12 seasons and concluded in 2015. Iron Chef Gauntlet begins production in early 2017.

Here’s hoping Mark Dacascos returns as well. Dude’s a national treasure.

Cover Photo: Alton Brown Facebook

Categories
News Now Trending

After Dual-Arm Transplant, Marine Pursues Dream To Become A Chef

Since he was a young boy, John Peck’s dream was to become a chef. Instead, he became a Marine.

Unfortunately, in 2010, John’s military career ended while on tour in Afghanistan, after he stepped on an explosive device. He was lucky to survive as a quadruple amputee.

Still, without his arms or legs, Peck’s aspirations of becoming a chef never faltered.

Now, with the help of a recent dual-arm transplant, Peck says he’s traveling to Italy, enrolling in culinary school, and plans to become the next Food Network star.

johnpeckfb

Peck is now the second person in the world to receive a dual-arm transplant.  On Wednesday October 5, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, Peck spoke at his first public post-transplant press conference, where he thanked the family of his donor and explained his plan for the next chapter of his new life.

“My dream job since I was 12 was to be a chef. Now because of my donor’s gift, I actually have a fighting chance of doing this. I plan on going to culinary school, traveling to Paris and Italy, learning their techniques, coming back, and competing as the next Food Network star.”

Still a Marine at heart, Peck exudes a die-hard motivation to pursue his dreams and will not settle in his current situation.

“I am unwilling to accept this until the day I die,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post.

Through more than four years of excruciating recovery, Peck has documented his journey on John Peck’s Journey Facebook page. Since his story broke, there’s been an outpouring of support.

Thankful for the well wishes, Peck has announced a live Q&A session that will be hosted on the John Peck’s Journey Facebook page Thursday, October 6 at 8:00 pm EST.

Peck’s story not only serves as an inspiration for those who are recovering from injuries of war, but should resonate heavily with those who are still in pursuit of their culinary goals.