Sonoma County CareerFest Interview with Guy Fieri!

Andrea Benito Chino

On March 7th, 8th, and 9th, the Career Technical Educational Foundation hosted their 2nd annual Sonoma County CareerFest. The purpose of this event was to help students find and explore potential career pathways as well as to build career-readiness skills. This event was available to everyone, but was specifically aimed towards students who would be able to attend with webinars that had an array of professionals in different careers from across Sonoma County. 


In order to kick off the rest of the Sonoma County Career Fest week, four students from our very own culinary program were given the opportunity to ask special guest Guy Fieri some questions, and he was gladly willing to answer them. I was lucky enough to be one of the students chosen to ask him a question, so for all of those who missed it, here’s how it went. 


*Side note: Guy tended to go on tangents/rants so I’ll try my best in summarizing what he said. 


  1. Leo Case: What advice would you give a student who might be interested in going to the restaurant or hospitality industry?

Guy: “Do it.” In his opinion, the restaurant/hospitality industry is one of the only ones that will give you all the facets that will be necessary in all other industries. In the restaurant business you learn teamwork, discipline, timeline, communication, understanding, and public. Anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant business will be great at all other industries, allowing them to succeed everywhere else they might possibly go. Additionally with the hospitality industry, you can travel the world! In fact, you can work anywhere you want if you know the business. You also don’t always have to get a higher education to be in the industry. There are many different ways to get to your goals in life, and really as long as you have a personality and like working with and talking with people, it’s one of the greatest things someone can possibly do. 


  1. Savanna Conwell: What is the biggest difference between working in a restaurant versus working as a chef on Food Network, and what would you say is the best thing about working as a chef on Food Network? 

Guy: He began to talk about the fact that if you have a dream in life, you actually have to chase it! He said that you won’t get anywhere in life by doing the basics, and that you have to chase your dreams in order for them to become realities. You can’t just wait and hope that opportunity comes knocking at your door. You have to go look for it!

For the second part of Savanna’s question, he said that being a chef on TV and a chef in a restaurant are very similar in the sense that he’s the executive producer of all his TV shows just like he is the head chef in the kitchen. Cooking is obviously different, but the principles are the same: gathering people to make a product to serve with consistency. It also has to be a collective effort of energy, participation, teamwork, and communication; these are all the things that will be used and needed in all other industries as well. Guy’s favorite part about his career is also what he gets out of it. He has accomplished about everything that he wanted to accomplish in his career, but his fuel/fire has always been helping people. He says that whatever you do “just make sure that you find that depth. Make sure that it really resonates with what you want to be. To every student, I want to say this to you right now: Don’t chase the dollar…you gotta love what you do. And I watch people that go do jobs and I’m like, ‘You give 50 hours, 60 hours a week, do you love what you do, is it worth it? …Make sure it’s worth it.” In whatever you choose, make sure it will make you happy. If you don’t, then what’s the point in doing something you don’t love?


  1. Brett Kellar: If you were never a culinary chef, what career path would you have chosen and why?

Guy: Before, he wanted to be a daredevil, but was afraid of heights. He also wanted to be a football player, but he’s 5’11’’ and isn’t very fast (his words, not mine). He knew he wanted to do something with business and he’s always liked making things work, a lot of what cooking is. But what he was getting at with this was that he wants everyone to always have a back-up plan. If you can’t do this, what else would you want to do? You have to have other things. Back to what he said with Savanna, you have to do the things that will make you happy, and if you work hard at it, there’s a really good chance you’ll be successful with it. 


He goes on to tell this story about the son of a local friend who barely graduated high school with a 2.2 GPA. After high school, he was planning on going on to an industry job. Guy told the kid that if he was going to be in business someday, he should go to the JC and take some business classes or at least do some other thing to fortify himself. He says, “This isn’t about fulfilling what your mom and dad want you to do, don’t get me wrong, [but]you gotta fulfill yourself, folks! …nobody’s going to be there to hold your hand.” Back to the story, the kid took some classes at the JC, and decided to take a biology class. He learned about neuroscience and decided to take another class. After a few semesters, his professor recommended that he apply to Berkley. So, he applied, tested, was accepted, got a full-ride scholarship, graduated in the top 10% of his class of 220 students, works in the neuroscience department at Berkeley, is going for his masters, will be getting his PhD, and this ALL came from a student with a 2.2 GPA. Mind blowing! He believes that every single one of us has that chance, but it’s not gonna happen if we’re not willing to work for it. We have to work for what we want, and that’s the cold hard truth. Opportunity won’t come knocking at our doors. We have to get up and go look for it. 


  1. Me: You have already done so much to influence the culinary industry, are there any future goals or plans that you hope to accomplish soon?

* To start off, I was a little nervous so I accidentally used the past tense when talking about watching his show and he said, “What is this used to watch? You gotta keep watching, I have bills to pay!” I was trying to explain myself, but anyway, he said he was kidding, so I’m fine, we’re fine, it’s not embarrassing (me when I lie.) BUT ANYWAY…


Guy: He said that just because he’s reached what many would consider to be the top of the mountain, there are still way bigger mountains. He continued to say that you always have to set goals; they’re the reason people keep going. His dad beat pancreatic cancer 3 years ago, and he thinks it’s because he still had so many goals to accomplish. He told a story about a friend who really loved video games and applied himself, and eventually became the video game tester for Mattel. According to Guy, he’s now probably making around 100x the amount he makes (don’t know how true that is.) That being said, it’s all there. It’s all available, and you just have to be willing to work for it if you really want it. Once again, nobody’s gonna give it to you. You have to establish goals and steps. You can’t just wish for it. So for him, he recommends that all students continue setting goals, continue setting challenges and benchmarks for themselves that they want to achieve. 


And that’s a wrap! Everyone had such a great time talking with Guy and he was just the absolute best. He was ready and eager to answer each of our questions and it was so nice to meet him. The other two days of this event were filled with webinars surrounding environmental, public safety, technology, hospitality, and healthcare careers as well as webinars on working up your financial knowledge, searching for jobs, and so much more. If you missed the event, you can still look for the recordings on YouTube by searching up “CTE Foundation.” If you want to find some of the photos from that day, go to the West County Culinary Instagram page (@wchs.culinary) and look for the “Events” Highlights for some of those photos! Now to wrap this whole thing up, always remember to keep your mind open. According to Guy, keep your mind open to the arts, the world, opinions, religions, food styles, and so much more. Don’t make any set-in-stone opinions yet, and don’t shut yourself out. Say yes to adventures and new things! Get involved! Have fun! Live your life! The world is your oyster, so do something about it. Don’t waste that opportunity.