Guy Fieri is more than a celebrity: He’s a meme. He’s well known for his shows on the Food Network, he has a massive social media presence with millions of followers across Twitter and Instagram, and phrases like “Flavortown” have entered the popular lexicon. His style is instantly recognizable, and on top of being an icon, he’s a massive philanthropist. While in the past there may have been a hint of irony in his fandom, by now people have come to appreciate Guy Fieri, and many see him as an admirable figure.
But that was not always the case. Before Guy Fieri reached meme status, he was not so well-liked, and was considered one of the most hated chefs on the Food Network. Why was Guy Fieri so disliked? And what did he do to turn his reputation around?
Guy Fieri and Flavortown
Guy Fieri got his start in the industry as a restaurateur, starting in the late 1990s with a restaurant called Johnny Garlic’s. This restaurant was successful, and he was able to expand into the 2000s. At this same time, he won a season of The Next Food Network Star, and was able to start his first show: a cooking show called Guy’s Big Bite. However, this wasn’t the show that would launch him to success.
In 2007, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives premiered, which would be Fieri’s most famous show. In this show, he toured the U.S. and visited various local restaurants that were less prestigious than the typical restaurants shown on the Food Network. The show was and still is a success, and is what Fieri is most known for.
Hate for Guy?
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Guy Fieri’s persona is considered grating by some. He’s been described as “loud” and “obnoxious,” and is definitely very different from the more reserved Food Network chefs like Ina Garten and Giada de Laurentiis. On top of this, he’s faced various controversies throughout the years. Unlike other Food Network chefs, he doesn’t have formal culinary training — his experience comes from being a restaurant owner. He’s also been accused of homophobia and antisemitism.
In 2012, he was also made a national laughingstock with a brutal review in the New York Times of his Times Square restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar. This review was likely one of the most-read restaurant reviews, and it certainly didn’t help Guy with his reputation.
A “National Treasure”
Over the years, Guy Fieri’s reputation has changed. His loud and bro-ish style has come to be seen as wholesome and charming, and his reviews of local, “low-brow” restaurants are more appreciated because they show off places the average American would have access to. He’s even moved forward from the accusations of homophobia, as in 2015 he officiated 101 same-sex weddings in Florida, a state which had opposed gay marriage. People eventually realized that Guy Fieri wasn’t as bad as he was made out to be, such as comedian Shane Torres.
A recent article out of A Table For Two described Guy Fieri as “America’s Most Misunderstood Chef,” and highlighted Fieri’s philanthropy and personal life, including the reason he changed his name from “Ferry”: to honor his paternal grandfather who immigrated from Italy. The Food Network subreddit also came to Guy Fieri’s defense, calling him a “great humanitarian,” “national treasure,” and pointed out that Fieri seems to be “in on his own joke.” Perhaps the people who judged him so harshly were guilty of judging a book by its cover, because Fieri’s recent actions show a kind and caring person, husband, and father. Maybe we can learn from Guy Fieri — to be unapologetically ourselves, and care more about how we treat other people.
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