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.”
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.
MAKES 4 to 6 servings
Time 2 hours, plus chilling time
From GUY FIERI FAMILY FOOD by Guy Fieri. Copyright © 2016 by Guy Fieri. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.