Over the course of 30 seasons on the Food Network, Guy Fieri has traveled to 392 cities to visit nearly 1,200 restaurants for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The production of the show is a well-oiled machine that allows Fieri to also run a successful restaurant empire and enjoy time with his family—so what goes on behind-the-scenes to make it all happen?
PEOPLE spent three days with Fieri for the latest issue, on newsstands Friday, as he filmed Triple D (as its known to fans) in Kansas City. “The way the system is now has changed dramatically from the way it was,” says Fieri, who first started in 2007 after winning season 2 of The Next Food Network Star. “At the time it would take five days to make one show.”
These days he and two 10-person crews will film at three or four restaurants in a day, leapfrogging between locations. Since the dishes on set can be high in calories, Fieri starts every day on a healthy note. “I usually exercise before work. Then I drink a big vegetable and fruit juice—we bring a juicer on the road,” he says. “I make everybody drink it because I know the immunity, and what the body needs when everybody’s on the road, and working crazy hours.”
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The juice, and his daily Americano, will be the only thing he eats before a shoot. “When you do three locations in a day, two dishes per location, it can very quickly escalate,” he says. “If you eat too much, and you get too much in your mouth, you overload your palate, you desensitize it. I don’t wanna do that.”
While viewers see Fieri roll up to each restaurant in his iconic 1968 Camaro, in reality, Fieri has a driver who gets him from place to place. The Camaro, worth an estimated $100,000, is trailered to each location. And it’s the job of a crew member to get the car around the city they’re filming in—Fieri only opens and closes the door for the camera.
Those restaurant introductions, known internally as “the stand-ups,” are totally unscripted. Fieri runs through what he wants to say a few times in his head, but that’s it. “I hate sounding contrived,” he says.
Fieri rarely makes small talk on set with the proprietors. Though the crew has been on set for hours gathering b-roll, Fieri will walk in, switch his shirt from a rack of button downs, and almost immediately the cameras will start rolling. “That’s very important because they’re having a genuine, organic moment of meeting each other for the first time,” says executive producer Frank Matson.
The diners on camera are loyal customers invited in by the owners for the episode. “In addition to Guy interviewing people, we continue to interview other people once Guy has left,” adds Matson, “and that then is edited together with the customers that Guy has interviewed within the final piece.”
RELATED: Guy Fieri ‘Upgraded’ His Wife’s Favorite Beef and Noodles Dish With This One Ingredient
Fieri picks every place and every dish that makes its way onto the show from a curated list presented to him about two months in advance. (“Our research team is like, I think they all work for the FBI. That’s the kind of group they are,” says Fieri.)
“Guy will spot a unique ingredient or a way of preparing a dish that’s different and chooses that,” says Matson.
There are only two things you’ll hardly ever see make it onto an episode of Diners, Drives-Ins and Dives: “Liver is nasty,” says Fieri. And eggs. “I eat them in dressings but sunny-side up, over-easy or scrambled? No, thank you.”
For a closer look at Fieri’s life on the road, plus more secrets from the set, pick up the latest issue, on newsstands Friday.
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