I have had the good fortune to attend one of his book signings, and I can attest that in person he is, indeed, extremely gracious. He let everyone who was getting a book signed take a photo, and he did hug me. (Perhaps it wasn't during flu season; I don't recall.)
One thing that was neat: we were expecting either a reading or a lecture. Instead, he did a whole hour of Q&A from the audience before the signing. We could ask just about anything - about the show, his life, food, whatever. One guy tried to heckle him, and he handled it beautifully.