Celebrity chef Guy Fieri is one busy guy. When he's not cooking on his Food Network show Guy's Big Bite, he's on the road taping the popular show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives or filming the NBC hit Minute to Win It. He's a guest judge on other TV shows, has written books and launched six restaurants, the most recent of which is expected to open this month in Dublin.
Fieri operates three Johnny Garlic's restaurants in Windsor, Roseville and Santa Rosa (his hometown). The fourth will anchor a space near the movie theater.
"We just found a really dynamite location and thought that was a great place to start," he said in an interview with Dublin Patch earlier this week.
The fact that Fieri is a Raiders fan and now will have a spot just 30 minutes from Oakland will be useful. The chef said he looks forward to catching a game, visiting friends and stopping by the restaurant as much as possible.
Fieri gave Patch a taste of what's to come at his Dublin eatery, set to open in a couple of weeks.
Starters will include American kobe sliders made with waguy beef, sweet onions and cilantro lime aioli. Sashimi won tacos are made with sashimi grade ahi, mango jicama salsa and wasabi soy. Other dishes include a grilled onion tortilla stack, key lime calamari and artichoke hearts.
The list of entrees is lengthy, starting with salads, kobe burgers, grilled meat and wood stone fired pizzas. Pasta dishes include cajun chicken fettucine, shrimp scampi and chipotle shrimp and hotlinks.
"The way I cook and on the shows I do is to use lots of flavors... There are definitely vegetarian items, including pizza, which we cook at a real high temperature."
The food promises to be amazing. Fieri, who was very gracious with his time, gave me a plate to sample. I tried the penne pesto vegetable pasta. Served with bite-sized artichoke hearts, olives, tomatoes and mushrooms, the pasta was tossed in a pesto cream sauce. It was awesome, the perfect balance of pasta and sauce.
No doubt about it, when Fieri said he uses lots of flavor in his recipes, he wasn't kidding. I also tried the Cajun chicken fettuccine. Served with blackened chicken breast and sun-dried tomatoes, the dish is tossed with a creamy Parmesan sauce. It's the kind of food that's unique, yet comforting. It's also the type of food that you'll think about long after you've left the restaurant.
So how does he it do it all? Fieri credits his ability to juggle his jobs to the people around him.
"The biggest thing is having a great, understanding family... Right alongside of that is having a great team. I'm surrounded by a lot of really great people," he said.
The team includes business partners, managers, a marketing team and publicists. He's also married and has two young sons. In fact, the day we talked Fieri had plans to cook pizza and meatballs for his son's birthday party. He fondly referred to his son as his "inspiring little chef."
That love for family carries over into Fieri's restaurants and its menus.
"A majority of the food that's on the menu has been tested at home long before it ever made it on the menu," said Fieri.
That means customers can expect a unique kids menu. Fieri said that kids have more developed palates these days. In addition to traditional options such as chicken tenders and pizza, kids can select from alfredo fettuccini and penne pesto.
He said he's always thinking of new dishes and gets culinary inspirations while visiting mom-and-pop shops around the country for Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
Fieri joked that even when he's in the car with his wife he's thinking of what he can cook and how to make recipes better.
"I'll be driving down the street and tell her, 'Write this down.'"
All kidding aside, it's clear that Fieri is serious about connecting with the staff at the new restaurant and making sure they understand every menu option. He met with dozens of new employees following our interview and gave them a chance to sample some of the dishes.
Fieri posed for photos with employees, autographed books and shook their hands. One staff member told him that she hopes to apply for the show The Next Food Network Star next season. That's the same show that Fieri won, setting his first cooking show in motion. He encouraged her, gave her tips and offered to look at her audition tape.
As a journalist I've met many celebrities, but Fieri was one of the nicest and most genuine.
When his restaurant in Dublin opens, you can rest assured that you're not just eating at a restaurant run by a celebrity chef. You're dining at a place run by a family guy who just happens to have an awful lot of really cool things on his plate.
Dublin Patch will continue to follow this story and update it when the restaurant opens.