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Peruse the menu of Johnny Garlic’s, a restaurant owned by Food Network star Guy Fieri, and you’ll come across the Cajun Chicken Fettucine. Its origins are peppered with Rebel pride, and Fieri, ’90 BS Hospitality Management, doesn’t forget that.
“This is where it all started,” Fieri said as he pulled his red 1967 Camaro up to the Stan Fulton Building in late January. Sporting a Rebels shirt, Fieri was shooting an episode of his popular television show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
He offered Harrah Hotel College students a lesson in persistence. That signature Cajun Chicken Fettucine recipe? He developed it in the college’s kitchen for one of his food and beverage classes. He insisted that he could blend both Cajun and Italian flavors and won over his skeptical instructor, chef Claude Lambertz.
He filmed scenes with his former college advisor, Vince Eade, executive chef John Gremo, and students as they prepared a popular Thai shrimp dish served at Stan Fulton Bistro.
In between takes, he encouraged students entering the hospitality industry to maintain their connections to UNLV.
“You have to pay it forward and give back. If everybody supports everybody else, we’re going to prosper in society. I was so blessed to be around the people (at UNLV), students and faculty,” Fieri said.
Diners features unique eats served up at popular joints and hometown favorites. Fieri’s filmed Las Vegas eateries in the past – including his favorite college hangout, the Four Kegs Sports Pub. The Stan Fulton Bistro, a teaching restaurant with an affordable menu run by faculty and students, isn’t a typical locale.
“This (bistro) isn’t a ‘Triple D’ but I’ve been doing this show for five years, and I want to do something close to my heart. I have to make an investment in the next round (of chefs)."
And for those students thinking about opening a restaurant? “The number one thing I can say is experience, experience, experience. Learn the good and bad on someone else’s dollar. Get road experience,” he said. “Then go on your own with twice as much money (as you think you need). Having reserve capital is difference the between sinking or swimming.”
The Las Vegas episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, is going to air Monday, June 4, 2012 at 7 p.m. PST on the Food Network.