Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives may be premiering tonight, but while you're watching the celebrity chef check ouf a bunch of "funky joints" around the country, Fieri will be prepping for a dinner with Mario Batali.
Turns out, Fieri has called up Batali to co-host a charity dinner at the Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival, with proceeds going towards the Cooking with Kids Foundation. "We have our own center table that we will be designing the menu," Fieri told us in a phone interview. "We’re both Italian so we got that going for us, but I come from all these different types of food, and [Batali] has such an eclectic diverse talent. He understands food at such a different level, I’m just waiting to see what he shows up with."
No word on what the menu will be yet, although we'd love to see how barbecue/ sushi/ Italian fusion will turn out. "When it comes to Mario there’s no clashing," Fieri said. "I think it’ll be eclectic, just like jamming with musicians; a little of what they do a little of what I do. For me I’ll just be absorbing as much as he says."
So what can Fieri teach Batali? "I do different types of food, barbecue and sushi and some California-style food, and I’m really big on the barbecue world, so I think I’ll be able to enlighten him on a few things there," Fieri told us, "but I think he'll be doing most of the teaching."
Of course, Batali could spare a few tips for Fieri, who is opening his first New York City restaurant in the fall. Judging from the current menu plans, it sure seems like Fieri is taking cues from Batali. "It’ll be a lot of seafood, slow-cooked rotisserie meats, Italian pasta-based dishes, a real eclectic mix of appetizers," Fieri told us. "I'm not big on huge entrées when I'm eating out, so lots of small plates stuff."
But still expect some barbecue-sushi dishes, as Fieri says there will be some similarities to Tex Wasabi's. "I can’t really say that I am changing. I’m not from New York and I’m not from that style, and I think one of the things that enticed [business partner] Jon Bloostein is that I’m a little different," Fieri said. "I’m a West Coast guy... New York is the big epicenter of food and wine. That’s the major leagues, baby. I’ve never worked in restaurants in New York City."
Tickets for the Chefs Table dinner on Sept. 14 are on sale at Kendall-Jackson's website, going for $350 a pop. VIP tickets are $3,000. Proceeds benefit Cooking with Kids.