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Friday, Dec. 4, 2009

Guy Fieri’s Roadshow @ The Riverside Theater

Dec. 2, 2009

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The Riverside Theater was filled with the aroma of Hong Kong noodles and ’80s rock on Wednesday when Guy Fieri’s Roadshow played Milwaukee, one of 21 cities on a 30-day tour. A late meet-and-greet session (one of the perks of a $250 dollar ticket) kept the doors to the theater closed until 8 p.m., and the feisty crowd that couldn’t fit in the lobby was relegated to the sidewalk with a guy dressed as Bob’s Big Boy and a girl sporting a “Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner” T-shirt.

 First to the stage was Kevin Sloan, former owner of the now-departed Sol Fire and The Social, and current chef of the rock stars at the Riverside Theater’s dining room. Working with Roots executive chef Paul Zerkel, Sloan prepared carrot curry soup, olive oil-poached salmon with tabouli, and a warm black olive vinaigrette. Australian-based bartender Hayden “Woody” Wood entered stage right to a remix of “Whole Lotta Love,” with liquor bottles twirling like batons. He stretched out the process of mixing a jasmine vanilla martini with helpful bartending tips, audience participation and flashy Cocktail-worthy techniques.

It was the elevated DJ booth wrapped in orange shag and topped with a disco ball and red emergency lights that foreshadowed how Guy Fieri’s Roadshow was going to unfold. The Food Network star of “Guy’s Big Bite,” “Ultimate Recipe Showdown” and “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” modeled his two-hour “food-a-palooza” after a high-energy rock concert, which didn’t gel with the portion of the audience that went to the chef’s roadshow to learn something and taste samples, not witness stand-up comedy performed with football field swagger at the risk of being caught in the cross-squirt of one of Fieri’s trademark squeeze bottles. The other demographic in the theater, however, ate it up. They were responsive, they were on their feet, they called from the balcony and they clamored for freebies shot from T-shirt guns.  While preparing a pasta with dry rubbed pork tenderloin, the celebrity chef drank from a “Megamartini” machine, hosted a karaoke contest with members from the audience, introduced a blooper reel from “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” and made a costume change. If the show had a message, it was to encourage parents to create better eating habits for their children… and to watch “Guy Fieri’s Top of the Class,” premiering on the Food Network on Dec. 5.

Photo by Cj Foeckler