Guy Fieri's Louisville eats: Not what you think

'Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives' filmed at local restaurants Seafood Lady, The Table, Momma's BBQ and Irish Rover for later episodes.

Jere Downs

Guy Fieri doesn't eat like you think.

"Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" host Guy Fieri, "Southern at Heart" host Damaris Phillips, and Gralehaus chef Andy Myers film an episode for Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," which will air at 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2. September 13, 2016

One banana and a 24-ounce Caffe Americano with a splash of cream started Fieri's day on Sept. 13 in Louisville. Chauffeur Troy Allen had that slim breakfast waiting when Fieri strode out of the Seelbach to begin a six-restaurant filming blitz for "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" on the Food Network.

Ahead awaited 12 entrees dictated by Food Network researchers from the menus of the restaurants, which were closed for the elaborate staging that make it look like Guy Fieri just popped into the kitchen to crack wise. Homemade bologna waited at Gralehaus, while The Irish Rover scoured its kitchen to be ready for cabbage rolls for lunch, followed by Momma's Mustard Pickles & BBQ. The Table, Grind BurgerKitchen and the Seafood Lady were also on the schedule.

At 9 p.m. Friday, two cuts from that day of shooting will be featured on the show: Gralehaus for its bologna egg sandwich and lamb grits, and Grind for its veggie burger and pork belly Cuban sandwich. The episode, called "Brunch, Bologna and Burgers," also features doughnut sliders from a Portland, Ore., diner.

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The four other Louisville restaurants visited by Fieri will be sliced and diced into other episodes of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," or Triple D, the Food Network's top show.

As for Fieri, 48, he said he begins each day of shooting with an internal vow.

"I don't eat more than two bites. I have to be very conditioned about it," he said. "I don't want to be consuming 3,000 calories."

On the day of shooting, Fieri's red Chevy Camaro convertible with the "FLVRTWN" license plate sat parked curbside outside Gralehaus on Bardstown Road. It had been trucked in from Fieri's native California to be a prop, so he could get out and do his trademark door slam with his black Oakley PRIZM sunglasses firmly in place.

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He showed co-host Damaris Phillips — a Louisville native and the host of the Food Network's "Southern At Heart" — how to strut down the sidewalk, wave her hands and emphatically state "THIS IS GRALEHAUS."  He walked her up and down the sidewalk on Baxter Avenue in front of three cameras and a boom mike. "Talk louder," he said. "Use your hands." She was visibly frustrated. Patience, he cautioned.

"You've done three takes of it," Fieri said. "I've done takes where I've done 20."

He said Phillips is "like the little sister I didn’t know I had," Fieri said. "Great chef. Needs to have her own restaurant."

Fieri lost his only sibling, sister Morgan, at age 38 to cancer in 2011. She lives on in a sugar skull tattoo on his arm. She's remembered on the menu at his Guy Fieri's Smokehouse restaurant at 4th Street Live! in the form of "Morgan's Roasted Brussel Spouts & Smoked Sweet Potato." The entree with red onions, raisins, balsamic mustard vinaigrette and crispy onions is vegan, he said, a nod to her lifestyle and quest to remain cancer-free.

But health takes a back seat on his show, where Fieri focuses on the eats of "most of the viewers we have for Triple D, middle America energy and attitude."

Those "energies," he said, inform the menu at Guy's Smokehouse, where the lineup of pit-smoked pig wings, trash can nachos, and bacon jalapeno pork rinds ranked three stars out of five on Yelp! three months after its debut.

Fieri said the smokehouse restaurant, financed by 4th Street Live's Cordish Co., is only the first. Others are planned at downtown Cordish sites in St. Louis and Baltimore, among other sites.

"There will be 1,000. I think we will be the first one on the moon," he said.

At Gralehaus, a crew of 11 surrounded Fieri, Phillips and chef Andy Myers in a tiny kitchen. Myers' hands shook as he cranked a sausage grinder packed with pork shoulder, garlic, coriander, cilantro and mint. Phillips cracked jokes about sausage making while Fieri boasted he has "the biggest sausage story," and recounted how he once broke a sausage grinder with 150 pounds of meat.

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Restaurant co-owner Lori Beck had assembled 15 regulars to dine around Fieri as he was served the $10 Haus bologna with aged cheddar, sunny egg and Crystal hot sauce on a brioche bun.

One bite. One grunt.

"Give it up for chef," Fieri said. On cue, the staged diners broke into applause.

"Could I have eaten that bologna sandwich? I could have had two of them," Fieri said. "Sometimes I tell the producers to just take it, get it away from me. I have to keep my palate fresh."

Jere Downs can be reached at (502) 582-4669, and Jere Downs on Facebook.