Foodie doesn’t even come close to describing Guy Fieri’s palatable passion for flavors, fresh ingredients, and culinary creations of all kinds. This is probably why, in addition to becoming an acclaimed chef, he’s also wildly successful for a slew of other endeavors. He’s opened dozens of restaurants, several of which are on Carnival Cruise Line ships, hosted a handful of popular shows, including the ever-popular Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and was dubbed the “face of the Food Network,” by the television channel itself.
We caught up with the chef, restaurateur, author, and TV personality, to talk about his latest projects and while we were at it, scored his tips and tricks for taking Thanksgiving dinner to the next level.
Not taking “no” for an answer
One of his recent endeavors is one he’s most proud of, perhaps because it was something he was told couldn’t be done: opening a barbecue joint on a cruise ship. “I asked Carnival why we couldn’t do it, and they said ‘Well, ‘cause you can’t have a smoker — you know the rules, the logs on the smoker are a fire hazard,’” he told Glam. “But you can’t go cook barbecue on the land and then bring it to the ship — that’s not barbecue — so I told them to call me when they’d figured it out.” Six months later, he got the call he’d been waiting for. “They had a smoker and asked me, ‘Now can we build the barbecue concept?’” Shortly thereafter, Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse came to fruition. “Now we have a full-blown restaurant with smoke-out brew-out.”
His love of barbecue goes way back
Barbecue hits home for Fieri, even though he was born in Southern California. “I remember the first time I took a bite out of a rib. It was at a joint in Eureka owned by a lady named Aunt Esther, who made barbecue the right way — I’m talkin’ real deal pork and brisket, low and slow,” he described. “Any time my parents would want to bribe me with something, they’d say, ‘Want to go to Aunt Esther’s?’ and that was it.”
This experience is, in part, what inspired him to become a chef. “Everyone’s got their things they do in life. Being a chef and cooking is what I think about when I wake up in the morning, and it’s usually the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night.” Even the morning of the interview, Fieri said he got through his gym session by reminding himself that the more calories he burns, the more food he’d get to enjoy. Who can’t related to that?
How Thanksgiving goes down in the Fieri house
We can only imagine what a food-focused holiday like Thanksgiving is like in his home. “It’s real big in my house — usually about 60 people. Everybody has a job, and we cook anywhere from four to eight turkeys,” he said. “I’ve threatened everyone this year that we’re going to add in Chinese food – egg rolls and whatnot.”
One thing’s for certain: Thanksgiving in the Fieri house is a culinary event. “From meeting everyone throughout the course of the week to Thanksgiving dinner itself to the weekend that follows, we go all out.” While, of course, Fieri incorporates the traditional mashed potatoes, stuffing, and turkey, he assured us that nothing is “normal,” as far as food goes — everything gets its own twist. “It’s all got to have its only little something.”
Keep scrolling to learn how Fieri “next-levels” every Thanksgiving dish.
“We deep fry turkey, we smoke a couple turkeys, we roast a few turkeys, but everything’s got its own uniqueness — it’s not cut and paste by any means.” And Fieri always makes enough for plenty of leftovers, per his wife’s orders. “We have to have leftover turkeys, specifically because my wife likes to have turkey sandwiches with black pepper. That’s the big deal.” And don’t forget to use every part of the turkey, especially the drippings, which Fieri says is the key to a saucy gravy. “Use all those drippings, grab all that fat that comes off those roasted turkeys. Take that fat, strain it out, make the roux from that.”
Pumpkin or pecan?
“Pumpkin over pecan all day, although I just did a show with my buddy Aaron May and he made a pumpkin pecan turnover that was pretty dynamite,” he said. “It gave you what you love about pumpkin pie along with the texture of pecan pie, so that would be my favorite — nontraditional of course.”
Cranberry sauce or cranberry from the can?
This is a question he refused to even answer… Needless to say, cranberry in a can is not something you’ll find at the Thanksgiving table in the Fieri home — or in his cabinets, ever. “Homemade all the way, all the time,” he finally admitted.
In the Fieri home, when it comes to veggies, Brussels sprouts take the lead. “Brussels sprouts are a must. You gotta have brussels sprouts,” he told us. “We’ll also do some roasted squash, but mainly we’re open to anything that’s fresh, seasonal, and looks really great.”
Best advice for hosting Thanksgiving?
According to Fieri, the best way to make really good holiday food is making sure that you’re using quality ingredients. “You can get organic, farm-raised, free-range, etc. — it’s all about quality ingredients. Treat it with respect,” he said. “You can’t just fix something with butter, you have to take your time.” Also, if you’re not used to cooking for a big crowd, Fieri suggests giving yourself a test run. “If you haven’t hosted Thanksgiving before, do a Thanksgiving pre-run a day or two before — nobody’s upset about more leftovers!” We certainly can’t disagree there!