Friday, December 1, 2006

Interview with Guy Fieri - Part I

So I was lucky enough to recently score an interview Guy Fieri. That’s right, the dude who won The Next Food Network Star. Why the interview, you ask? Well, Guy is doing us all a favor and opening up a new restaurant here in Sacramento called Tex Wasabi’s. Tex Wasabi’s will be opening up on Arden, east of Howe and will bring some definite fun to the Sacramento dining scene. It also plans to shake up and all preconceived restaurant conceptions you had when you hear is genre: California style sushi and Southern BBQ.


Now, a bit of back story first. Yesterday when I was to conduct the interview I cashed in all my bad karma so I completely lost my voice, and Eat Beast in a repeat performance knocked my tape recorder on the tile floor whilst I brushed my teeth, leaving me to find it in about four pieces. Nice. Guy was kind enough to move the interview to the next day when my voice had a chance to work. So this afternoon, I gave him a call from my bed, still in pajamas, my shaky hand attempting to scribble down everything he said. I’m also typing this in bed with a fever, as I do not want to forget anything so bear with me here if I seem a bit disconnected.

Anywhose, Guy was more than personable, and extremely engaging and friendly. I really wish I had taped it so I could put it online so you all could hear the passion in his voice when he talked about his restaurants and his food. It was inspiring, tons of fun, and the definition of shibby. He really is that boisterous fun-loving chef you see on TV.

I had interview questions set up, but Guy answered them all before I asked them and really, the whole thing became more of a laid back conversation. His excitement when it came to Tex Wasabi’s drove the conversation; as he described himself he was like a kid going 80 miles a minute with A.D.D.. Loves it.

I’ll do my best to relate to you the contents of our conversation and get these quotes as on as possible:

“Our first place was called Johnny Garlic’s – which is why I like the name of your blog *I squealed inside at this* – and it was a California pasta grill that was really successful.” Successful indeed, Guy and his partner Steve Gruber were able to open up 3 of them in a little more than 10 years, the market in Santa Rosa and the quality of the food insured it’s stability.

So why sushi and why BBQ? With gusto Guy replied, “I love to go out with sushi, but my wife just wasn’t having it. She’d never go, so it was always my son and me. And that’s how it always is - one person in a group says they don’t like raw fish so everyone’s forced to go to Applebee’s.” I assented to this notion, remember times that others had squashed any possible plans for sushi. And you sushi squashers know who you are! *cough cough Rob cough*

“For people who really know and love sushi, they know it doesn’t mean fish. Sushi means ‘seasoned rice,’ and in Japan it’s common to find plenty of cooked ingredients that aren’t fish in your sushi. Tempura, beef, and veggies are pretty everyday.”

As for the BBQ, Guy informed me a lot of people up here don’t really understand BBQ. “What they do up here is grilling. Now BBQ is low and slow.” Grilling is the process of throwing a piece of meat (or whatever) into a BBQ and an intense heat for a short amount of time. The juices are quickly sealed in and heated. In BBQ, the juices are slowly boiled and cooked inside the meat a very low heat for an extended period of time. Here the juices and flavors can all meld together for a truly sinful, full-bodied flavor.

The two however were combined when Guy was at a BBQ competition down in Houston, he was feeling creative and threw some BBQ sauce on a maki roll, “My friend said, ‘You jackass! You can’t do that with sushi!’ I wrapped it all up in a tortilla and called it the jackass roll. It was nuts.” Made with some pulled pork as well it’s also a popular item on the menu.

Thus the sushi/BBQ combo was born. Guy was eager in telling me that he enjoyed getting crazy in the kitchen. “Combining eastern traditions of making sushi and using western cultural ingredients like brisket, French fries, avocados, BBQ sauce, makes it real fun. It also acts as a chance to really introduce people to sushi, and not just raw fish.”

Guy iterated the idea that people seem to lose grip of the food and cultures that define other societies. For example, in the U.S. people think sushi solely means raw fish, and in Japan people think hamburgers and hot dogs are what culinarily define America, “They don’t know about Southern food or Tex Mex or New England styles of cooking.” In response, most Americans don’t know Japanese food beyond fish sushi and tea. Tex Wasabi’s aims to hopefully change that a bit by introducing new dishes and new ideas, “A real popular sushi roll in Japan and Hawaii that most people don’t know about is the musubi roll, which uses spam and egg.” Interesting indeed, and definitely worth trying. (Don’t let hype fool you, spam rocks. If you disagree, then you obviously suffer from head trauma.)

"Here we took a small pause so Guy could talk to his dad for a minute. So far, Father Fieri has acted as the foreman for all of his son’s restaurants. “He’s been an instrumental factor in our success. He’s really helped us out a lot.”

That’s all for now kiddies. I need to get back to sleep so I can heal. Tomorrow, Part II of the interview! We’ll go over his motivation to open in Sac and get a look at the inner working’s of Tex Wasabi’s.


  1. Hmmm....sushi and barbecue. I admit that even I, a totally adventurous eater am having a hard time imagining it. My husband's family is out in Sacramento, so I think that I will have to check it out.

    I really hope you feel better soon.

  2. Garrett--

    Number one, congratulations on the interview.

    Number two, put down the pen and rest up and feel better.

    That's an intriguing story. I love hearing these stories about new food pairings and what sparked them. I'm one of those dreaded people who's face falls when the group suggests sushi. I could totally go for a restaurant like this one. I'll be waiting for installment number 2 (after you are feeling better).

  3. Nice job, Garrett! Did you make it to 55°?

  4. Well, I'll be dipped!

    You just proved the old adage of "learn something new every day" to be true!

    I, apparently like many others, thought Sushi was simply variations of raw fish. I won't be so closed minded anymore. Doubtful I will ever try raw fish, but I won't rule things out unless I know them for a fact now.

  5. How cool is that?? Congratulations on the interview! That is so awesome!

    I hope you feel better soon...sounds like the last couple of weeks have not been good at least health-wise for you. Hang in there!

  6. How cool are you for doing such a great interview? And you went ahead with it even though you are sick - that's dedication! I hope you feel better soon. (I will now resist the urge to begin suggesting home remedies and other bits of motherly advice.) (Unless you want it of course, in which case let me know, lol.)


    Ari (Baking and Books)

  7. Check you out with your big time interview, fancy fancy! That's great!

    I love sushi, and I love BBQ so I think it'll be an interesting restaurant.

  8. Oh man I hope you feel better by the time you read this. I have also been sick and instead of blogging I am reading yours, so I am reeeeally lazy!

    I love that you interviewed Guy. I really wanted him to win the Food Network contest, and am glad he's a local. I have seen the Tex Wasabi sign and thought "what the heck will that be?" I admit I am more interested knowing that Guy is involved. I will check it out.

    Get better, Kiddo.

  9. You rock Guy! Finally, someone who knows sushi does not mean raw fish...someone who is not JA (Japanese American), for that matter, because JAs know better. I get so tired of explaining this to ignorant people. If that wasn't great enough, someone who knows how great spam musubi is! You deserve a medal!


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