Photo by: Mike Greenlar / The Post-Standard
A police car flanked the shiny red Camaro parked along North Clinton Street Monday afternoon, a stretch normally clogged by trucks to the newspaper’s loading entrance. A handwritten sign outside Byblos Mediterranean Cafe said, "Closed Today," and a small crowd stood on the curb.
The iconic Chevy Camaro sits outside Byblos Mediterranean Cafe on North Clinton Street Monday, a sign that TV host Guy Fieri was visiting
Now and then, they peered inside the window to see a familiar face — or at least a familiar shock of blond spikey hair. It was Guy Fieri — author, TV host and the ultimate roadside foodie — talking, motioning with his hands and, of course, chewing.
The Food Network star is scheduled to appear at 2 p.m. today at the New York State Fair's Chevy Court.
Despite a tight schedule, Fieri motioned for a reporter to come inside. He said he had five minutes.
Well, what brings you to Syracuse?
Originally I was coming up to do an appearance at the State Fair. I’ve heard it’s just a rockin’ state fair, and I was invited to do it. So I said, while I’m here, why not bring the Camero and the boys and shoot some shows. You’ve got a lot of great foods. Of course, being that it’s close to a college campus means there is always unique and eclectic food, and I’ll tell you, this place is a bounty. You guys have some awesome places.
I don’t want to step on your show, but can you tell me anything about this visit here?
That would give away the show and what we’re doing. But you’ve got really eclectic places — like I said, because you’re close to a college campus. College campuses have high expectations, believe it or not. College students want good eats, they want it to not be super-expensive, but you’ve got to be eclectic, you’ve got to have style, and you’ve got to make real food. I mean, they are much much different than the college student in the past. So when you’re in a college town like this, you’ll find some really cool places, and we have. We have found enough to have three shows.
You know, our newspaper runs your Cooking With Kids feature on our Kids Page. How did that come about?
Well, I own seven restaurants in California, and we do kids’ menus. Kids are always looking for something they can be involved with, so that’s how that idea started. We partnered-up with a team that does the printing and the designing. My foundation — Cooking with kids, CWK — is doing a big fundraiser Sept. 14 in the wine country of California, where I live, with (chef) Mario Batali.
The idea behind it is to get kids to be more food-centric. You know, food is a common denominator for all people. Kids love food. It’s about putting materials out there that get kids thinking about food — to get kids interacting about food. It’s about simple things, like kids thinking about pasta — getting kids to work with food. It’s a life lesson they need to have, a skill everybody needs — to cook.
Plus, there is the empowerment that it creates when they can coo ... this whole thing about, "I am able to take care of myself. I can do it, and I can create for other people." Self-esteem comes along with it. It’s building blocks, all through food. So that’s kind of the mantra of the foundation and the insert in the paper. And thank you guys for carrying it. It’s really well done. We have about nine of them done, so it will come out throughout the year, and they continue to get better.
OK, last question. I know you’re not courting newspaper stories when you do one of these shows. But it’s hard when you are doing one literally right across the street from a newspaper.
Right! When our producer called and said, hey, there’s a newspaper right across the street from the location you’re doing, want to give them an interview? I said, did we get it cleared yet? No. I said, fine, send them over. We felt the same way. We can’t be right next to you guys and not give you a little time. But thank you — and the whole town. What’s the name of the hotel we’re at? (Answer later deleted.) Really cool people. Everybody has been super nice, gone super-out of their way to help us. It’s a lot to make this show happen. We’ll shoot six or seven locations while we’re here, and it takes a lot of people moving and shaking, so the city has been warm and welcoming about how we’ve been introduced.
Are you at liberty to say the other places you’re visiting here?
(Laughs) Nooooo. You guys will all find out. You’ll know. (Laughs) Just don’t say you got the list from me.
Do you want me to print the name of the hotel you’re staying at?
Probably not. We don’t need any more attention. (Laughs!) See, that’s why you’re the reporter. Nice to meet you, brother!