“I’m celebrating my 49th again. So we’ll leave it at that.”
Guy Fieri actually was celebrating his 52nd birthdayon Jan. 22 in his restaurant in The Linq Hotel. Just a few feet away, but slightly out of view, his staff are putting the finishing touches on his cake, which has individual layers decorated in honor of El Burro Borracho, his Mexican spot in The Rio, and his beloved Raiders, among other things. Yet while he’s humorously minimizing his own age, he’s certainly not downplaying the fact that this restaurant, Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar, is now five years old.
“It’s only five?” Fieri replies when asked about it. “It feels like 50.”
Five years, of course, is no small accomplishment on the Las Vegas Strip, and the food TV star understands that.
“You definitely gotta be on your A-Game,” Fieri said. “You can’t phone this one in. I’m down here at least once a month, checking on things. My team’s here in one shape or form throughout the year.”
On this night, however, he’s continuing a celebration that began in Northern California.
“We had 600 people, I think,” he says of the earlier festivities.
“Threw a big party in San Francisco. Got to take a break for a couple of days then come down here for a couple of days. So it’s not birthday. It’s my birthday week. But this is, I think, the first time I think I’ve ever celebrated my birthday in my own restaurant in Las Vegas. So out of all the years and all the projects projects I’ve done, this is a milestone. A lot of great friends are here, friends from out of town. It’s great.”
Fieri’s ties to Las Vegas extend well beyond his restaurants. He graduated from UNLV in 1990, and his son, Hunter, recently followed in his footsteps — a milestone they celebrated with a graduation dinner at Forte Tapas on Rainbow Boulevard. And the celebrity chef says he’s constantly amazed at how the local dining scene has changed since he was a student.
“(Hunter) lives out there in Henderson, Green Valley area. And there’s all kinds of poke places, and hand-made ice creams, and great New York-style subs shops, and all these things. And, oh my gosh, man. I remember when all you looked forward to was going to the T-Bird to get yourself some good chicken tenders.”
After shooting multiple episodes of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” right here in the valley, the celebrity chef continues to be amazed by the area’s culinary growth.
“It’s an awesome scene. Because … all the people who support the Strip, all the people who work here, who work in industries that support this, they all have that high expectation of food.”