– By Catherine Baxter, News Editor
As soon as Guy Fieri on Campus opened, it was clear that it was a hit on campus. Many students expressed their love for the loaded macaroni and cheese or Guy’s Big Bite Burger. The only thing missing was students getting to see Fieri himself, aside from the cardboard cutouts of him all around campus.
On Wednesday, Dec. 5, Fieri visited the Monclair State campus to spend his day grilling up burgers, taking pictures and having a quick interview with The Montclarion.
Fieri gives students insight into Guy Fieri on Campus and his personal cooking career:
What is your favorite thing on your Guy Fieri on Campus menu? Why?
“Oh geez! I think it’s gotta be the Guy’s Big Bite Burger. It’s not the most difficult thing to make, unlike other things on the menu. I was just overall excited when I first made the burger. I mean, the chili’s good, the Cuban sandwich and parmesan chicken… It’s like what happens when someone asks you what your favorite song is! I’d still say it’s the burger, though. Burgers are just so mishandled. People think they can just take a chunk of meat and add some lettuce and cheese and there you go. I like the Big Bite Burger because it is just the right combination of everything, right down to how thinly we slice the lettuce.”
What made you decide to start a Guy Fieri on Campus chain?
“Well, I partnered up with the folks at Sodexo, and we started talking about it. I went to college, and I was not a fan of the college food that I had. I was thinking, ‘What can we give them?’ You’re eating at these places at least a couple days a week, and we tried to figure out what it was that you guys wanted. Everything was pre-made when I went to school. It came frozen and pre-packaged. I had a concept with good food and affordable prices where everything was hand-made.”
What is your biggest goal to achieve for Guy Fieri on Campus?
“Well, the underlying factor of the whole thing is that a lot of these students are my fan-base. The respect and relationship with them is what really matters. At the end of the day, it’s the people that look to you and the people who respect what you do that should be taken care of. I just want to see the smile on their faces. Food is a comfort zone, and I want to help make that comfort zone for people. It’s a responsibility I have.”
Your donkey sauce is delicious, and of course has an interesting name. What’s the story behind the donkey sauce (sauce on Guy’s Big Bite Burgers)?
“I think I’m funny. But really, that concept of ‘I can have it my way’ is not something I want to do. I’m going to make it my way. When you go to a Metallica concert, you don’t say ‘I’d like it with a little less guitar and no drums.’ You get everybody together. That’s their artistry, mine is my food. I want you to try it how I made it. The orchestra of all the flavors coming together is what makes it special. We were joking around and saying that ‘you were an ass if you don’t try it,’ and so, donkey sauce!”
I saw that you attended an exchange program in France. What did you learn while there?
“France was probably the biggest impact on my life. What it really was about was the origination of food, what food really is. Food is the common denominator of all people. Everybody likes food. When I was in France, I ate foods that were simple but amazing. Bread and cheese were so much more appreciated. You enjoy each part of your meals. It was an enlightenment that I had when I was in France.”
Would you encourage students to study abroad?
“Take the time! You’re at the perfect age in college. Take at least a semester and go study abroad. One, you’re going to have a great time. Two, you’re going to experience a new culture. You’re going to learn and see how big the world really is. I wish I would have taken more time and traveled more before I got out of college. If I could do it over again, I would take another year of school and study in Asia and France.”
As a chef and restaurant owner, I’m sure you’ve received negative feedback during your career. How do you handle negative feedback? Do you have any advice for students who may also receive negative feedback throughout their lives?
“Evaluate the feedback. Don’t ignore it; evaluate the legitimacy of it. Is it just a hater saying something mean to you? Don’t even tune that in. If it’s coming from someone you respect, get over the anger and disappointment of it. Look at the feedback objectively and take what you can from it and learn.”
What is the most memorable place that you visited on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives?
“I’ve been to over 650 locations. When you’re in that moment of ‘this is awesome,’ that’s what it’s all about. They all had amazing people and great food, and I can’t choose just one. I can’t even choose one region of the country. Chicago is probably one of my favorite places to go, but I travel a lot. It’s impossible to say.”
What is the first thing you noticed when you arrived on campus today?
“It’s enormous! If it wasn’t for the maintenance guys, I would be lost. You need those huge maps like Disneyland!”