Guy Fieri’s love of Las Vegas started when he attended UNLV as an undergrad, and grew even stronger when he opened Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar at The Linq Hotel last year in April. Fieri worked his way to the top of the Food Network chain by winning the second season of The Next Food Network Star and, since 2006, has been the face of the channel, hosting shows such as Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy’s Grocery Games and Guy’s Big Bite. He spoke to Las Vegas Magazine’s Susan Stapleton about his real personality, how he names his dishes and the inside scoop on one of his most famous sauces.

What does it mean to you to have a successful restaurant in Las Vegas?

It was in 1986 when I was going to UNLV. I drove down Las Vegas Boulevard for the first time ever in my life and I looked at this amazing city. I drove all the way down the Strip. I drove all the way down to downtown. I said, “Someday, I’m going to have a restaurant here.” So I came back and there are all these restaurants on the Strip. It was something I really wanted to do. I had a chance to do my restaurant on the Strip. That’s a big deal.

How much of your personality on television is the real you?

I am this way all the time. You’re seeing 100 percent me. I like people. I like giving back. I try to be sincere.

How do you come up with the names for your dishes? It has to be crazy.

It really is. It’s a challenge. OK, here’s how we do it ... I lost my sister (Morgan) five years ago to cancer, so we have her name on the menu. I put Morgans in all the different spots. It’s just my little thing, these little games. My mom’s on the menu. My dad’s on the menu. I try to have everyone important to me on the menu.

So I have to ask, how did you manage to come up with the name “donkey sauce”?

When I was younger, I was working on a Carnival Cruise in the kitchen. I explained to one of the other chefs that you have to put the sauce on the burgers. He has this really thick accent and asks, “Why?” “You have to put the sauce on the burger or you’re a jackass.” And he goes, “Jackass? What’s a jackass?” “It’s a donkey.” “Oh, so it’s donkey sauce.” That’s really how it happened. I’ve never told that story. No one has ever asked.

How is your restaurant El Burro Borracho going in Laughlin?

It’s doing really well. Do you know what that name means?

Yeah, the drunk donkey.

That name came about a lot like the donkey sauce. Caesars Entertainment asked me to do a restaurant in Laughlin. They say, “What do you want to name it?” I said, “How about El Burro Borracho.” “What does it mean?” “The drunk donkey.” They looked at me for a minute and said they loved it.

Are you bringing it here?

You never know. It might fit in well here.

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