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Guy Fieri at Foxwoods

America’s favorite chef brings a bold new restaurant to the shoreline

When was the last time you met a really nice guy? Could have been your neighbor’s friend, or someone you see at your kid’s sporting events. He’s friendly, with a personality that’s chill and fun. But it’s not charisma so much. He’s just a good guy. You know that feeling?

That’s how it felt when I met chef Guy Fieri.

In a chaotic press event at Foxwoods Resort Casino, with VIPs, publicists, TV crews and a throng of fans, Fieri shook my hand and thanked me for coming to meet him personally—even though our interview would take place a week later by phone. I congratulated him on the venture with Foxwoods, and for bringing an audacious new dining concept to the shoreline. Departing, I wolfed down two of his famous sliders as he continued to chat amiably with fans and press.

Days later, looking through his new cookbook, Guy Fieri Family Food, I realized that the beloved celebrity chef whose TV stardom has evolved into an empire is a successful yet unaffected man who likes to make people happy. He believes in family, and that food brings families together. It was the main inspiration behind creating his latest best-seller.

“Here’s what it is,” Fieri says: “We are losing touch in so many ways. We don’t call people on the phone, we text them. I’m as guilty as anybody. We are moving at a high speed. We have a lot of things going on. We’re drawn in so many different directions.”

“Fortunately, one of the core common denominators still exists, and is alive and well: we all love food. We’ve celebrated it more in the past 10 years than we did in the previous three decades. It’s one of the last sacred family moments. It’s one of those things that you can’t really cheat.”

The book was also written to give Fieri’s eldest son simple, delicious recipes to prepare for himself and friends while he’s at college. Fieri believes that family favorites preserve sweet memories. “I think that the story of food and family recipes that used to get passed on when the grandparents lived with the family, or from mom, we don’t have that as much anymore.”

“We have to take it on, and that’s one of the reasons I did the book. You give a kid a good education in food, and they’ll make much better choices about what and how they eat.”

A Good Friend to Have

Fieri is opening restaurants now in several new locations—some quite exotic—as the appetite grows for his zesty take on American staples like burgers and nachos. What brought him to coastal Connecticut is a close friendship with Felix Rappaport, the innovative CEO who is transforming Foxwoods into a four-season family-friendly resort.

“Felix really is a great conductor,” chef says fondly. “He’s able to bring the music together and get the best from each performer. Felix has always taken a tremendous amount of time and energy with me personally.”

“I love Foxwoods and the surroundings. It’s a destination resort. Felix really is so quiet and calm and cool and collected, and yet he’s conducting an orchestra the size of Foxwoods. It’s amazing.”

With Rappaport’s direct involvement, Foxwoods recently contributed $75,000 to Best Buddies, the Boston-based charity benefitting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Best Buddies is a philanthropic passion for Fieri, and the generosity didn’t surprise him.

“If Felix opened on the moon I’d be the first guy signed up,” Fieri says of Rappaport. “I trust him. I know that our new Foxwoods concept is going to be perfect.”

Fiery says he’s looking forward to spending quality time in coastal Connecticut, but he’s no stranger to the greater region. “I’ve had a nice New England influence,” he says. “My wife is from Providence. That’s part of the beauty of this new restaurant. As a chef, I’m very open-minded to allowing the surrounding area to influence the kitchen.”

The menu at Guy Fieri’s Kitchen + Bar at Foxwoods is described as “…simple and exotic; burgers to sashimi, with a New England spin.” That’s along with signature dishes that Fieri fanatics expect wherever he goes.

And while keeping one eye on his empire, this grateful family man is living his life.

“We’re doing a family cross-country trip next summer where we’re driving a big R.V. across the country,” he says. “My wife loves the shoreline and we’ll spend time there for sure. I did it when I was a kid. It’s still one of my fondest memories.”

Meanwhile, a Guy Fieri restaurants is opening in Playo Del Carmen, Mexico, with new locations in Dubai and South Africa coming into the picture. Fieri also has a new sandwich concept he wants to roll out to locations across the United States. “I’d like to do something where we’re roasting the pork loins, roasting the top round, and doing artisan style sandwiches,” he says.

Yes, the one-time flambé captain who came up through the tough food industry and made himself into a household name is always thinking about food. And family. It’s exactly the kind of personality you’d expect from a genuinely nice…guy.

Balsamic BBQ Short Ribs

MAKES 4 to 6 servings
Time 2 hours, plus chilling time

  • 4 1/2 pounds bone-in short ribs
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus a pinch to season the vegetables
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 large celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups full-bodied red wine
  • 2 cups Beef Stock (page 226 or low-sodium store-bought)
  • 4 rosemary sprigs
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup minced chives, for garnish
  1. Season the short ribs with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a pressure cooker over high heat until hot. Add the ribs and sear well on all sides until nice and brown, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the onions, celery, carrots, and a pinch of salt. Sauté the vegetables until lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Deglaze the pan by adding the wine and beef stock and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  3. Tie the rosemary and thyme together tightly with kitchen twine and add them to the pot along with the vinegar, BBQ sauce, molasses, brown sugar, and chili flakes. Stir well to combine and make sure the sauce just covers the short ribs; add a little water if necessary.
  4. Cover with the pressure cooker lid and securely lock it in place according to your pressure cooker’s directions. Increase the heat to high and bring the cooker to high pressure; you can tell it’s there by the steam escaping from the valve or a high-pitched whistling noise. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a steady, consistent pressure.
  5. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and let the pressure come down for 10 minutes. If the cooker has a dedicated steam or pressure release valve, carefully discharge any remaining gentle pressure by releasing it. If the cooker has just the top pressure regulator, wait for the cover lock to release, then carefully remove the regulator cap. Let the pot stand for 3 to 4 minutes. Unlock and remove the lid.
  6. Transfer the short ribs to a tray, taking care to keep the meat and bones attached (they will be tender and can fall off if not handled gently). Let cool completely, then refrigerate until well chilled.
  7. Meanwhile, place the pressure cooker over medium-high heat and cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat until the sauce is thick and syrupy, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove and discard the herb bundle. Remove the balsamic BBQ sauce from the heat and set aside.
  8. Preheat a grill to medium-high.
  9. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and season with the remaining 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Grill the ribs meat side down until lightly crisped and brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the ribs over, then baste with the balsamic BBQ sauce. Cook for 1 minute, then turn and baste rapidly 2 or 3 more times until the sauce has coated the ribs and is thick and sticky but not burned.
  10. Transfer to a serving platter when completely glazed.
  11. Garnish with sliced chives and serve with extra sauce on the side.

From GUY FIERI FAMILY FOOD by Guy Fieri. Copyright © 2016 by Guy Fieri. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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