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You know him for his trademark bleached hair, for flame-covered cooking gear, and, of course, his monster hit shows Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy’s Big Bite and now Guy’s Grocery Games. But there’s plenty more that you don’t know about his royal dudeness, Guy Fieri. Read on to discover a few surprising insights the Food Network star shared during his cooking demo at this year’s New York City Wine & Food Festival.
1. He doesn’t believe in kid-friendly recipes. “What do your kids like to eat? That’s a good kid-friendly recipe,” he says. Even better: Ask them to help in the kitchen. “Get them involved with whatever you cook. Let them feel something!” It’ll turn picky eaters into enthusiastic ones, Guy says.
2. He’d take a wok over the grill any day. “The wok is one of my favorite things to work with when I’m camping,” he says. “Outdoor cooking is not just about hot dogs and hamburgers. There are so many styles of food you can make.”
3. His son Hunter is a better baker than he is. While son Ryder’s life revolves strictly around pizza, his eldest, Hunter, is more ambitious in the kitchen. “Hunter cooks a lot; he gets into it,” he says. “And he really likes to bake.” As for Guy: “I can’t bake anything. I’m the worst. My cakes always come out flat.”
4. His parents were hippies. “My parents were all into macrobiotic cooking and natural cooking, and my sister was a vegetarian. I wasn’t down with that,” he says. His picks? Meatballs, pork chops, chicken Parm and steak.
5. He’s got a man crush on Masaharu Morimoto. “Of all the great people I’ve met in my life, he is one of the most gracious and caring. And man — he puts on a party,” he says. “If you haven’t tried his food, it’s out of bounds.”
6. He’s a fierce canner. Just before summer ends, Guy gets down and dirty bringing his garden (yes, he has a garden!) into his kitchen. Bell peppers are a particular favorite to preserve, and “they work nicely” for canning. “It costs so much to buy them roasted in the jar, especially off-season. You’ll save so much money by canning them yourself,” he says.
7. He loves Asian cooking. He’s known for his Donkey sauce at his restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, but Guy goes Eastern when at home. “My favorite of all Asian sauces and condiments is sambal oelek. It has a nice chile flavor, but it’s not super spicy,” he says. Another go-to: oyster sauce. “It’s like ancient barbecue sauce. It’s excellent and coats food really well.”
8. He’s a cilantro fan. Unlike Food Network host Ina Garten (who notoriously hates this “soapy” herb), Guy says it’s one of his “favorite, favorite herbs.”
9. He watches Food Network. “I love Iron Chef and I love Chopped. I watch both of them. I think it is crazy what those chefs go through,” he says.
10. He knew he wanted to be a chef since he was a kid. A staunch carnivore from the start, Guy constantly battled with his veggie-loving mom. Things came to a head when he was 10 years old. Exasperated, his mother inadvertently gave him the green light: “If you don’t like the way I cook, then you cook,” Guy remembers her saying. That same day, he rode his bike to the local grocery store, put a few steaks on the family tab and got to work. “My dad said, ‘This might be the best steak I’ve ever had in my life.’ And that was it. I knew I wanted to be a chef.”