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Chef Talk

[Chef Talk]

Talking big flavors and big Vegas openings with Guy Fieri

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Guy Fieri serves burgers to fans outside his first Las Vegas restaurant, Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar on Friday, April 4, 2014.
Photo: L.E. Baskow

Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar is set to open at the Quad on April 17, the first Las Vegas restaurant from the always-enthusiastic UNLV graduate turned Food Network star. His 6,500-square-foot eatery, rightfully positioned across from Harrah’s outdoor Carnival Court, is custom-created for rowdy fun, armed with food like the Motley Que barbecue sandwich on a pretzel roll and Buffalo wing-flavored French fries. It’s the type of place you might discover watching Fieri’s popular Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show, and the host took a minute to discuss it with us.

You marked your official Vegas arrival by giving away Bacon Mac ’n’ Cheese Burgers to people passing by on the Strip. Nice move. That burger won the New York City Burger Bash last year, and that thing is serious. That’s the best chefs in the country. So to bring that burger here and let everybody try it is awesome.

Has your first Las Vegas restaurant been a long time coming? It’s always been like, when is it going to hit? I never wanted to push it. There were offers, but they weren’t [right]. The most important thing was always, Are we gonna do this right? I’m thinking about it from my perspective as a Vegas dude. When you’re cruising the Strip, you want to have a couple cocktails here and a couple there, go see this, go do that, hook up with friends over there. Here, you can come get a craft cocktail or artisan beer or a cold shot, some great handmade food or just quick finger food. This is your local joint from back home times 10, in the middle of the Strip.

Guy Fieri shows off his signature Mac & Cheese Bacon Burger from the new kitchen of Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar on Friday, April 4, 2014, at the Quad. The restaurant is set to open this month.

Guy Fieri shows off his signature Mac & Cheese Bacon Burger from the new kitchen of Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar on Friday, April 4, 2014, at the Quad. The restaurant is set to open this month.

If you weren’t a famous food TV guy, just a restaurateur with a degree from UNLV’s hospitality college, this would still be the pinnacle, right? I just did my first movie cameo. I’ve got two of the biggest shows on Food Network and one of the longest-running. I’ve got all these cool accolades, but bro, let’s be real honest about what this is. I’m opening a restaurant in the middle of the Strip with Caesars. Put that into context. The only thing you can tell me to top this is I’m opening on the moon next week. It’s really overwhelming.

And this is not the same restaurant you opened in Times Square last year. How important was it to make this distinctly Vegas? There’s no way you can come to Vegas and do a sequel. Vegas has got to be its own premiere. The best way to say it is you’ve got to be willing to accept that nothing in Vegas is normal, okay? You walk down the street with humongous cocktails. You’ve got the greatest rock and roll bands playing small venues. You’ve got people winning and losing millions of dollars, and people getting married in little tool sheds. You name it, it happens in Vegas, and from day one the objective was to put it at that level.

Did that infamously negative New York Times review from last year change the way you approach a new project? I only do things the best I can do them in the moment that I’m doing them. Have I learned from that experience? Yes. But I was doing the best I could do. Also, remember it’s a licensing deal. I’m the chef, I make the recipes, I make the idea and I give it to a group. Let’s be realistic about what this was. But there was nothing realistic about what was being said. You know, you take it; it hurts; it’s a bummer. But whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Tags: Dining
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Brock Radke is Las Vegas Weekly's food editor and author of the Strip-focused column The Incidental Tourist. He has written ...

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