It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that Guy Fieri – eternally enthused host of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and good friend of Sammy Hagar – is going overboard for Thanksgiving. After all, since bursting onto the scene in 2006 (when he won the second season of Food Network Star), he’s built an empire around the core concept of going big.
This Thursday, Fieri will serve dinner for 60 folks, and when he spoke to Rolling Stone earlier this week, he was already wrist-deep in one of the six turkeys he’s preparing for the meal. He’s also got a full day of football watching planned (and an “outdoor kitchen” to build), which will make Thanksgiving Day a busy one in Flavortown.
Yet somehow, Fieri was able to step away from the giblets long enough to give us his thoughts on how to fix the Oakland Raiders, his picks for the NFL’s Thanksgiving games and his secret for making the perfect “Turketta.”
Your favorite team, the Raiders, finally got their first win of the season. How do you turn this franchise around?
They got that first win and are lookin’ to build from here, and we’ve got key players like [Derek] Carr and [Marcel] Reece that are gonna help make it happen. Carr is awesome. I don’t know if you watched the game the other day, but to see his enthusiasm when he threw that touchdown, he was running around like we just had won the Super Bowl. I can’t say enough about him. And I think Marcel had a great game. Those guys are keeping their heads up and they’re giving it what they got.
Do you have time to watch football on Sundays?
I was just in Italy filming Triple-D and we weren’t getting football until like 10 p.m. and it was killing us. But typically on Sundays, there’s always an agenda. Something going on with the kids, turn on the pregame show, listen to what’s going on and comin’ up. Then I have the game on, I have the Sunday Ticket so I get all the games. I’ll have two TVs on, one in the living room, one in the kitchen. Usually I’ll be making breakfast, trying to keep up. There’s always the one game we wanna catch and we just kinda “downtime it” for that game.
The great thing is the 5:30 game for us in California. We get to watch that while we get dinner put together. It’s football all day on Sunday. I wish we had football every day; that would make me way happier. Why can’t we have that? You’ve got all these teams! Why can’t we just play a Monday game, a Tuesday game, a Wednesday game? [laughs] Who’s your team?
The Seahawks! Did you go to the Super Bowl?
I did not, unfortunately.
I tell you, bro, I was there at the game and it was about the most amazing thing in the world. I’m a big Peyton Manning fan, I think Manning is amazing, and to watch what went down, it was just mind-blowing. I couldn’t believe what was actually taking place. I once saw professional soccer up there in Seattle, the Sounders, I went and saw that. I’m not a big soccer fan, but watching a live game is unbelievable. And then I went to Italy and saw a soccer match; it’s something everyone should do once. It’ll blow your mind.
If Flavortown had a football team, what would you call it?
Gotta be “The Kulinary Gangstas.” That’s the name of my crew, so gotta go with that.
You had Kid Rock show you around Detroit on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Who are some of your other friends in music?
Sammy Hagar is one of my really good friends and also just a great guy. From when I was a kid, in elementary school, I was listening to Sammy Hagar. He’s a food icon. You run into Chad Smith, Chili Peppers, he’s a big food guy. It just kind of becomes a situation where you meet people and you start talking to them, “What do you do? Oh you’re that dude. Oh man, I love that.” It’s the common denominator of all people; it’s what I say about food all the time.
You’ve had football players like Joe Theismann and Earl Campbell on too. Any other athletes you’d like to have guest star?
It’s funny because I’m a huge sports fan. I love competition, I love watching it, I love all aspects of it, so it’s funny how it’s brought me closer to the people I admire. There’s not a specific list of people that I’m trying to get but it always comes up. I’ll be doing something and someone will say, “Oh, so-and-so is a big fan” and I’ll say, “Well bring him to the show, let’s go, I want to know what they have to say about the food.”
One of my good buddies is Marcel Reece with the Raiders. He’s a big Triple-D fan, he’s a big food fan. A lot of these athletes tell me “Oh yeah we’ve eaten at this place! We’ve eaten at that place!” One of my good buddies is Steve Hutchinson, he used to play for the Vikings, and he’s also been on Triple-D. I just say, “Bring ’em on. Bring me the players, I’d love to have ’em on.”
I assume you’re hosting Thanksgiving?
My wife is standing here right now. Yeah, we host. We just have a few friends and family over, just 60 people for Thanksgiving [laughs]. As a matter of fact, I’m up at our ranch about an hour from our house and we’re in construction, we’re finishing building a deck and so forth, but I’m putting my kitchen together, my outdoor kitchen, and I have six turkeys to cook. So I gotta get the turkeys brined today.
Do you cook all six birds the same way?
No. One of the greatest birds I’ve ever had is called a “Turducken.” A chicken inside of a duck inside of a turkey. That’s one that I love. I’ve done it a couple times. This year I’m stuffing a pork tenderloin inside of a de-boned turkey. So I’ve got a turkey here, I’m taking all the bones out of it and then hitting it with some sausage, fennel, sage, garlic, red chili flakes, and then I’m rolling it up and tying it off and roasting that whole thing. So that should be interesting. I’m calling it a “Turketta.”
There’s also plenty of football on Thanksgiving, so give me your picks for the games, based on which of city has the better food.
Philly at Dallas? It’s goin’ into overtime. Dallas has BBQ and Philly has cheesesteak and that Italian influence. So it’s a tie. Chicago at Detroit? Although I had some great food in Detroit with my brutha Kid Rock, hands down, Chicago is one of my favorite food towns. And Seattle at San Francisco? San Francisco all the way. Love Seattle but San Francisco has got the new stadium and they’re doin’ it right.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
The men and women in the Armed Forces, that’s what I always think about and what I teach my kids about. We’re getting ready to sit down at the table and have Thanksgiving and there’s people that are not with their families. There are people that are in dangerous areas, putting their lives on the line to keep our country free, and I think that’s something we should all celebrate every day.
I always thought Thanksgiving was a “Triple-F” – Family, Food and Football. Maybe we could add “Forces” and make it “Quadruple-F” instead.
[Laughs] Oh man, you’ve got it! That’s the truth of it. I’m thinking “Triple-D goes Quadruple-F.”