Like the TV celebrity he is, the "Guy Fieri Food" cookbook is big, bold, graphic, funny and personal. All 400 pages of it.
The book is the music, so to speak, of Fieri's "Food Show" that launched a 16-city tour Tuesday night at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center.
"It's just like a band touring without an album," Fieri -- pronounced Fi-etti -- said in a phone interview. "Oh, you can go on a tour, but when you have an album, it makes all the difference in the world."
Only five years ago, the magnetic Fieri rose to fame after winning Season 2 of "The Next Food Network Star." He first became host of "Guy's Big Bite" in 2006.
Fieri went on to headline two top-rated shows, "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" (aka "Triple D") and "Tailgate Warriors." In March, he made his debut as game-show host of NBC's "Minute to Win It."
Fans of Fieri, with his spiky, bleach-blond hair, earrings and tattoos, won't be left wanting in this book, his third.
Along with 150-plus recipes, from "Appe-Tapas" to desserts, Fieri liberally seasons the pages with anecdotes and snapshots of his life.
There's Fieri on a tricycle, sporting a cowboy hat and a big circle of paper pinned to his plaid shirt. The paper reads, "Don't feed me, please."
His parents were trying to discourage tourists, not from buying Fieri's old toys and paper-bag drawings, but from giving him candy treats to boot.
There's the story of his "Awesome Pretzel Cart." As a fifth-grader, Fieri had the idea of operating a soft pretzel cart like the one he had eaten from on a family ski trip.
His father helped him build it, and before long, Fieri was peddling pretzels like mad at fairs and rodeos. He later used much of the money to go to France as an exchange student.
'Make it happen'
Fieri said he wrote the book because it was time.
"I'd better start making some sense of this before I get old too or things change. Right now, it's time to say my piece, and explain where this unique style came from."
True to himself, what you see is what you get in "Guy Fieri Food."
"This is how I talk, this is how I cook, this is how I babble, love, live, laugh," Fieri said.
"I love food, I love what it does. You look at anything that goes on in your life, from the good things to the bad things. From the childbirth to a funeral, it has food."
Growing up in the small Northern California town of Ferndale, Fieri was greatly influenced by his parents and the way he was raised. They didn't particularly view themselves as hippies, even though the locals did.
Like his own kids, Fieri had chores such as cleaning his room and the horses' stalls. But he also was given the freedom to be his own person, even as a youngster.
"If I showed interest in something, my dad was behind me on it. ... The thing with my parents, I was always encouraged to be what I wanted to be, then go after it and make it happen. I can't say enough about my mom and dad."
The book is a lot about his family, Fieri said, including a dedication to his sister, Morgan. She died a few months ago of cancer.
"She had cancer when she was 4. Thirty-four years later, it comes back in another form? C'mon, that's not fair."
As someone who's lost a family member to the disease, Fieri added, "I'm part of a very unpopular club."
'An everyday dude'
While the book is part autobiography, its pages offer generous practical components, too. Woven throughout are photo-illustrated "Guy'ds" on meat, seafood and veggies. Fieri recommends how to stock a kitchen with essential equipment and food. There's a primer on pizza.
Many of the recipes will appeal to those who like to entertain around food. If the ingredient lists seem long, a lot of items are familiar and very similar, Fieri said.
"I think you'll see saffron in there twice. I'm not going to drop in truffle salt in there. That's not my gig. I'm an everyday dude."
Asked to name three ingredients he couldn't live without, Fieri ticked off garlic, salt and pepper, and vinegar.
"I'm a garlic junkie. I love it roasted, I love how it plays with others, the diversity. The spectrum of garlic is amazing."
Also, "I'm a big vinegar fan. We need more vinegar in stuff. I love balsamic, I love white balsamic, I love distilled, you give me vinegar and I'll run with it."
His favorite? Apple cider vinegar.
"I gotta say, red wine vinegar plays close second to ACV. The ACV is a little sweeter, a little more neutral. ... I just think we don't put enough acid in food. We need that contrast, that balance. We need to touch all the points."
In his nature
Fieri said he doesn't know exactly why he is a natural-born entertainer, but he gives partial credit to "two crazy aunts." They told him early on that he should be in TV and movies. He started performing, at least food-wise, as a 13-year-old cooking supper at family reunions.
"People were going to buy the groceries and bringing them to me and saying, what can you make. So it was always my nature.
"I love people, I really do. Nothing makes me happier than making my mom laugh. I love making my kids laugh, they love making me laugh. It's a way of giving to people, it's a way of helping people, it's a way of bridging."
Fieri recalls the first meal he made for his parents.
"My dad looked at me and said, 'This might be the best steak I've ever had.' That feeling has never gone away. I always quest for that feeling again."
Will he always be a blond?
"My wife always asks me. ... I don't always think I'll be a blond. That was actually a little bit of dare from my hairdresser and it just turned into it. I might be shaved the next time, I don't know. We'll see what happens."
All recipes were adapted from “Guy Fieri Food: Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It”
with Ann Volkwein (William Morrow, May 2011, $29.99), and modified as necessary for clarity.
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chili-garlic paste
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 pound chow mein noodles ( the size of spaghetti or soba noodles; Annie Chung brand recommended)
11 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup white onion cut in 1/8-inch shreds
1/2 cup red bell pepper cut in 1/4-inch strips
1 cup carrot cut in 3-by-1/4-inch sticks
1 cup sliced celery cut on a bias, 1/2-inch thick
1/2 cup stemmed shiitake mushrooms cut in 1/2-inch strips
3/4 cup snow peas cut in 1/2-inch strips
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
11/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup green onion strips (3 by 1/4 inch)
In a resealable 1-gallon plastic bag, place 3 tablespoons of the soy sauce, the ginger, garlic, chili-garlic paste, and 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch and mix thoroughly. Add the chicken, seal the bag, and marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Bring more water to a boil in a medium stockpot. Cook the noodles al dente, according to the package directions. Drain the noodles and plunge them into the ice water. Shake them dry and toss with 2 tablespoons of the canola oil to keep them from sticking.
Drain the chicken and discard the marinade. In a large skillet or wok over high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil until almost smoking and add the chicken, separating the pieces. Stir- fry until browned on all sides and cooked through. Remove and keep warm.
In the same skillet, add 2 tablespoons more of the oil. Heat until almost smoking, then add the onion, bell pepper, carrot and celery. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, snow peas and bean sprouts. Stir-fry for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the skillet and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the hoisin, the remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce, and the sesame oil, toss, and use a slotted spoon to transfer the mixture to a bowl and keep warm.
In a small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons cornstarch and the chicken stock. Pour the mixture into the hot skillet and simmer until reduced by one-third.
Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat, pour in 3 tablespoons of the oil, and heat it to almost smoking. Add the noodles, flatten into a cake and cook on one side, without stirring, until crispy and light golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip the noodles, add another 2 tablespoons oil, and cook the other side until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the noodle cake on paper towels.
To serve, place the noodle cake on a rimmed serving platter, top with the chicken and vegetables, and pour the reduced sauce on top. Garnish with the green onion.
Makes 2 large sandwiches, to serve 8
1/4 pound thick-cut bacon, diced
1 pound pork butt or pork loin, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 cup chopped red onion
1 cup thinly sliced celery stalks
1 cup red bell pepper matchsticks
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup chopped garlic cloves
1/4 cup chopped flat- leaf parsley
1 cup chopped green onions
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
Two 12-inch sourdough bread loaves
1 pound thinly sliced Havarti cheese
In a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until it is crisp and the fat is rendered. Set the bacon aside. Add the pork to the fat and cook on medium- high heat until it is browned on all sides, 10 minutes. Add the sausages, red onion, celery and red pepper and cook until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add the chicken, garlic, parsley, and ¾ cup of the green
Cook until chicken is cooked through, 10 minutes more.
Add the cayenne and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the water, cover, and let simmer on low for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Split the bread loaves and place the cheese slices on the bread bottoms. Toast lightly in the oven. Spoon some of the pork mixture onto the bread bottoms and top with the bacon and the remaining ¼ cup green onion. Finish with the bread tops. Cut each sandwich into 4 pieces and serve immediately.
Makes 2 pizzas
Special equipment: Pizza peel and pizza stone (or pizza pan) (see cook’s note)
2 store-bought 1-pound pizza dough balls
Flour as needed
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 sleeve graham crackers, crushed (about 11/4 cups crumbs)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 cups mini marshmallows
2 (4-ounce) dark chocolate bars, broken into 1/4-inch chunks
Cook’s note: A pizza peel is flat, usually wooden paddle used to slide loaves of bread, pizzas, pastries and other baked goods into and out of an oven.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place pizza stone, if using, into oven and heat according to manufacturer’s instructions.
On a lightly floured surface, form the pizza dough into two 12- to 14-inch rounds, ¼-inch thick. Sprinkle the pizza peel with flour (or pizza pan, if using) and place one of the dough rounds on top of the peel or pan. Slide the dough onto the preheated pizza stone and bake for 4 to 6 minutes, until just beginning to brown.
Leave the oven on at 400 degrees. While the pizza crust is baking, toast the almonds in a dry medium skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the almonds to a plate to cool.
Melt the butter in the skillet. Add the graham cracker crumbs, chili powder, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the crumbs are well-coated. Remove from the heat and set aside.
For each pizza, top the crust with half of the marshmallows and scatter half of the chocolate over the marshmallows. Return to the oven for 3 to 5 minutes, until the marshmallows are puffed and lightly browned. Sprinkle the pizza with half of the graham cracker mixture and top with half of the almonds. Let rest 3 to 4 minutes, slice, and serve. Repeat to make the second pizza.