Earlier this week, FN Dish caught up with Guy Fieri for a Facebook chat about the new season of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off. Guy answered questions about the competition, the celebrities, working with Rachael, what it’s like to be a part of the show and more.
Jennifer Suraci Tavella: Whose cooking skills surprised you?
Guy Fieri: I have to tell you that Johnny Weir’s cooking skills — from the way he said he could cook to the way he actually cooked — really surprised me. The guy has a great palate.
Janice Miller: How do you deal with a celebrity that can’t cook at all?
GF: Everybody loves food. Food is the common denominator of all people. To say someone can’t cook at all — I don’t know if that’s really true. They just may not have that much experience or practice. If you give them some techniques, it’s amazing what people can do. They just have to believe in themselves and try.
Trisha Howard Aleshire: What can we expect to see in this season that is going to be more surprising than last season and who’s your favorite cook thus far?
GF: This year we’re in California, so that makes a huge difference. That’s my home turf. Second, we’re not in a studio — we’re out on farms, city streets, you name it. Trying to pick who I like most is like asking me who my favorite kid is. It was a grueling few weeks. I was impressed with them all.
Sheryl Fleitman: How do you decide if it’s really close?
GF: Rachael’s the boss, and I just listen to her [laughs]. No, we don’t typically make the decision. The initial decision is made by the judges. When it comes down to the final two, we’re given the food in a blind tasting. So even though last night you knew the peanut butter and banana sandwich was Gilbert’s again, it’s a blind tasting for us and we agree on whose food prevails.
Donna M. Peterson: How do you pick your teams?
GF: Picking the teams is kind of like bartering…I’ll give you so-and-so for so-and-so. Initially we do first picks. Then we negotiate. And yes, as always, Rachael got her way [laughs again].
Maribeth Exley: Since cooking is something that comes naturally to you, have you ever experienced stage fright while cooking on camera? If so, how did you overcome it?
GF: Yeah, I’ve definitely had stage fright. I think everybody has. Sometimes the stove won’t work, or something isn’t in its right place, or the time gets cut. So you just stick with what you know and that’s food. Don’t let yourself get washed into the other circumstances and just keep your wits about you.
Cassie Foote: What’s your favorite part of the show?
GF: That’s really tough to answer. I get to spend so much time with Rachael, who is like my sister. There’s lots of laughing! The other side is meeting all these incredible celebrities who are fighting for their charities. It’s tough, long hours but you don’t want it to end. It’s bittersweet when it does.
Theresa York: Are the contestants allowed to use any of your recipes?
GF: No, they’ve got to prep it. This is the real deal — the timing is real, the drama is real, the situations are real. Trust me, these people are being put to the test. It is all real.
Michele Grabusnik: Was anyone too nervous to cook?
GF: Some people did get a little stalled for a second, but nothing too bad. If you don’t tell somebody they can’t fly, maybe they can. We have a little chitchat about what they’ll do and then they jump in. It’s a daunting task even for people that are really good cooks.
Crystal Robert: What is your favorite and least favorite part of filming?
GF: My favorite part about filming is…filming. My least favorite part is not filming. I hate downtime — let’s go! You have the momentum and then if you have to change perspective, that’s tough. When you’re in the thick of things, it’s awesome.
Gina Linback Caroway: How does it feel to “compete” with Rachael? Does she intimidate you at all?
GF: Rachael is like my sister. She is every bit competitive, every bit not wanting to lose and I’ve got to be on my game. This is not joke-around time; this is serious get-down-to-it time. Not intimidated, but definitely challenged.
Tiffani Ruder-Harry: Who comes up with the challenge ideas on RvG?
GF: The challenges are a group effort. The beginning ideas start with Rachael, the production team and me. Then the production team goes and works them out for TV. It’s a group effort and it’s crazy because the things they have to pull off are nuts.
Don’t forget to watch Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off on Sundays at 9pm/8c and keep coming back to FN Dish for exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes previews.