Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. In Praise of Guy Fieri

 

Guy Fieri is the tacky self-promoter famous for touring “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” nationwide in his red ’68 Camaro. If you’ve ever clicked by the Food Network, Fieri has probably been stuffing greasy food into his goateed maw between bro jokes with the restaurant staff.

Everyone loves to hate Fieri — except the public. “Triple D” and his other shows have been a ratings juggernaut for a decade. The media’s latest attack on the affable boor involves the signature sauce he uses at all his restaurants. From Eater:

Along with wearing backward sunglasses and driving a red muscle car across America, Guy Fieri is famous for creating a mysterious substance known as Donkey Sauce. This tangy ooze flows freely throughout his Times Square culinary funhouse, and it can also be found smothering hamburger patties at his casino establishments and cruise ship restaurants around the world.

…Fieri finally addresses the make-up of his famous Donkey Sauce:

“If we called it aioli, does that make it sexier? It’s aioli. This goes back to that exact comment that I said in the beginning: it’s about moderation. I called it Donkey Sauce because you have to make fun of it. It’s a quintessential ingredient in so many aspects of food, yet probably not the most beneficial except for flavor, probably the least beneficial, but it does have its place. All food has its place.”

I hate to break it to Eater, but secret sauce is just ketchup and mustard, fortune cookies aren’t Chinese, and Outback Steakhouse was created in a Tampa boardroom. It’s called marketing, people.

Now, when I say the media hates Guy Fieri, I mean they hate Guy Fieri. To the coastal gourmand, the chef/host might be more loathed than Donald Trump. They’re probably poring through his tax returns looking for borscht-stained checks from Putin. The most infamous takedown was by Pete Wells of the New York Times who was appalled at the very concept of Donkey Sauce:

Did panic grip your soul as you stared into the whirling hypno wheel of the menu, where adjectives and nouns spin in a crazy vortex? When you saw the burger described as “Guy’s Pat LaFrieda custom blend, all-natural Creekstone Farm Black Angus beef patty, LTOP (lettuce, tomato, onion + pickle), SMC (super-melty-cheese) and a slathering of Donkey Sauce on garlic-buttered brioche,” did your mind touch the void for a minute?

…What accounts for the vast difference between the Donkey Sauce recipe you’ve published and the Donkey Sauce in your restaurant? Why has the hearty, rustic appeal of roasted-garlic mayonnaise been replaced by something that tastes like Miracle Whip with minced raw garlic?

And when we hear the words Donkey Sauce, which part of the donkey are we supposed to think about?

I can pretentious-foodie with the best of them (you should hear me go on about single-origin pour-over coffee), but I can’t help but admire Fieri.

Starting out as Guy Ferry, he got a job slinging hash at the Red Lion Inn in Eureka, CA. After knocking out a hospitality degree from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he promptly changed his name to Fieri. (He says it was to honor his immigrant forbear, Giuseppe Fieri, but it didn’t hurt that it sounded cooler.)

In 1996, he took his new name and opened Johnny Garlic’s, a crowd-pleasing restaurant just off the 101 in Santa Rosa, CA. After a decade, he took his chances and ended up winning “The Next Food Network Star.” The rest is basic-cable history.

“Guy’s Big Bite,” “Guy Off the Hook,” “Guy’s Grocery Games,” and of course “Triple D” made Fieri the network’s most ubiquitous personality. He even hosted a short-lived prime-time game show on NBC.

He’s released six books, his own line of foods, and now presides over an international restaurant empire. But how on earth did this unsophisticated, gravy-swilling UNLV hospitality grad run laps around the most acclaimed chefs of our generation? By taking risks and busting his ass.

Yes, Donkey Sauce is just a silly name for aioli. Yes, he wears pinky rings and his goatee looks ridiculous. Yes, the staff at his El Burro Borracho in Laughlin, NV, isn’t waiting for that third Michelin star. But through hard work, Guy Fieri transformed himself from a short-order cook in the sticks into a one-man industry that has boosted the fortunes of countless mom-and-pop diners, hired countless people, and entertained millions.

Now let me flip on the TV and see if he’s still talking about those Hillbilly Hot Dogs in West Virginia.

There are 67 comments.

  1. Arahant Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: But through hard work, Guy Fieri transformed himself from a short-order cook in the sticks into a one-man industry that has boosted the fortunes of countless mom-and-pop diners, hired countless people, and entertained millions.

    Cod bless him.

    • #1
    • June 28, 2017, at 9:12 AM PST
    • 15 likes
  2. Valiuth Member

    I love his shows, but I really don’t like him much as a host. Which is the same situation I feel about Bobby Flay. I have no idea what they are like personally, though I get the feeling Guy is way better person to have a beer with than Flay.

    • #2
    • June 28, 2017, at 9:18 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. MarciN Member

    That’s really interesting. My husband loves this guy. I’ll have to tell him how much he is loathed by the mainstream media. It will make him love him more. :)

    What I admire most about him is how much he helps the local small businesses and the chefs he visits. I think it’s wonderful.

    There was one show in which one of the guest chefs he visited made a breakfast pizza, and my husband had me watch it. It looked really good. As I recall: Partially bake the pizza dough. Then cover it with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and I think basil. Bake that for a couple of minutes until it gets hot. Then drop five eggs in a circle on the top, and pop it back into the pizza oven for a just a minute, just to set the eggs. When it comes out, dust it with finely grated cheese and smidgen of parsley.

    It was beautiful and looked delicious. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on my list.

    My husband and I watched the challenge show he did last fall, and the show raised a lot of money to fight children’s cancer.

    I wonder how much time and money his critics have given to others?

    • #3
    • June 28, 2017, at 9:22 AM PST
    • 16 likes
  4. Lucy Kline Member

    I thought he was a tool as well, especially after he brought my favorite Chicago pizza joint to the national spotlight. A pox on his house! The place was jammed after that. Of course I was selfish and hated to wait for a table at a dive. I went there for years and never had to wait, and then boom the show airs and joint is super popular. They raise the prices to $20 for a large pizza – that’s crazy money for the south side of Chicago – yet stealing a line from Ilsa Lund in Casablanca I too am willing to be overcharged.

    Then my mom dies. Her wish is for the funeral luncheon to be held there. So we go and talk to the owner to make arrangements. There’s a poster in the place from Food Network, with his blonde tips featured prominently, and I made a crappy comment about him. Turns out Fieri is a really good guy. The original airing of the show featuring this place was several years ago but according to the owner Fieri keeps in contact with her on a regular basis, providing guidance and support when she needs it.

    I admit calling Fieri a d-bag in the past, but no more. Mom and pop joints have it tough as it is, especially in Chicago. Fieri is the real deal. Good on him.

    • #4
    • June 28, 2017, at 9:27 AM PST
    • 28 likes
  5. Qoumidan Member

    Naturally I had to look up aioli. I guess I learned something today.

    • #5
    • June 28, 2017, at 9:28 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  6. DrewInWisconsin, Type Monkey Member

    I’m not sure I understand: foodies are bothered because Fieri ‘s menu is a 99-car pile-up of adjectives and nouns? But they’re annoyed because he uses the term “Donkey Sauce”?

    Is it just me, or does that seem contradictory?

    Also, outside the coasts, who gives a flying fieri what “foodies” think?

    Also, I hate the word “foodie.”

    • #6
    • June 28, 2017, at 9:30 AM PST
    • 26 likes
  7. ZStone Thatcher

    Perhaps I’m exposing myself as a snooty culinary elitist, but I too cannot stand his shows. I’ve been to Johnny Garlic’s in Santa Rosa (dad is a huge fan, insisted we go there on a family road trip), and to a teaching restaurant he helps fund. Johnny Garlic’s was disappointing (even to Fieri uber fan dad). It reminded me of an Applebee’s filled to the brim with “merch”, and with stylized renditions of Guy’s mug plastered over everything.

    The teaching restaurant, on the other hand, was a breath of fresh air. They teach at-risk youths culinary and hospitality skills, and allow diners to pay whatever they think the meal is worth. It could be that my standards were lower due to the previous night’s excesses courtesy of Russian River Brewery, but the breakfast I ate at Worth Our Weight was fantastic. I gladly paid three times what the meal would have cost elsewhere. While I’m not a huge fan of Fieri’s shows or marquee restaurant, I’ll give him credit for his involvement in what appears to be a very worthy cause.

    • #7
    • June 28, 2017, at 9:36 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  8. The Whether Man Inactive

    Triple D is oddly hypnotic, especially when you turn it on when they’re running back to back episodes all day and you suddenly look up and wonder where the last two and a half hours went.

    • #8
    • June 28, 2017, at 9:40 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  9. Trink Coolidge

    MarciN (View Comment):
    That’s really interesting. My husband loves this guy. I’ll have to tell him how much he is loathed by the mainstream media. It will make him love him more. ?

    Right! My hubby’s up napping and I thought the same thing. He loves this guy:)

    • #9
    • June 28, 2017, at 9:43 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. MarciN Member

    The Whether Man (View Comment):
    Triple D is oddly hypnotic, especially when you turn it on when they’re running back to back episodes all day and you suddenly look up and wonder where the last two and a half hours went.

    Winters can be long and gray on Cape Cod. Last March my husband got through it just that way. He went on marathon Triple D days. :)

    • #10
    • June 28, 2017, at 9:47 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. KC Mulville Inactive

    There’s a shot in all of his shows where he samples the local restaurant’s signature dish, stares into the camera, and nods his head dreamily, “that’s so good…”

    So I’d love to see the outtakes where Fieri just spits the burger out and yells at the cook. “This is awful, man!”

    • #11
    • June 28, 2017, at 9:47 AM PST
    • 16 likes
  12. PHenry Member

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    foodies are bothered because

    I think at the bottom of it foodies hate Fieri because he champions real, regular food done well. Not much arugula, kale and quinoa, no huge square plates with 2 oz of food in the center, etc.

    He is the ‘common man’ foodie, and that is intolerable to food snobs.

    Triple D is the bomb!

    • #12
    • June 28, 2017, at 9:58 AM PST
    • 19 likes
  13. PHenry Member

    KC Mulville (View Comment):
    There’s a shot in all of his shows where he samples the local restaurant’s signature dish, stares into the camera, and nods his head dreamily, “that’s so good…”

    yeah, I also noticed that. How often does he say: “This is among the top 10 best xyz I have ever had”. I take that to mean “I’ve had better” ;)

    • #13
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:00 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  14. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    I love his shows, but I really don’t like him much as a host. Which is the same situation I feel about Bobby Flay. I have no idea what they are like personally, though I get the feeling Guy is way better person to have a beer with than Flay.

    Bobby Flay is a really good chef, but I get the same vibe. My main beef with Fieri is that after he featured a hidden hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint out here, the lines quadrupled in length and I couldn’t get a table anymore.

    • #14
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:02 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  15. Matt Bartle Member

    It’s standard practice that when my wife and I visit a new city she looks up what local places have been on DDD and we eat there. Can’t complain about any of them; they have all been good. I’m not sure that they’re better than other local restaurants, though.

    We ate at his establishment in Vegas a couple of years ago. We sat at the bar – I honestly don’t remember the food, but there was some pretty impressive cleavage on display by the young ladies working there. Perhaps my wife remembers the food.

    • #15
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:03 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  16. Matt Bartle Member

    Qoumidan (View Comment):
    Naturally I had to look up aioli. I guess I learned something today.

    Me, too.

    • #16
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:04 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  17. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    PHenry (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    foodies are bothered because

    I think at the bottom of it foodies hate Fieri because he champions real, regular food done well. Not much arugula, kale and quinoa, no huge square plates with 2 oz of food in the center, etc.

    He is the ‘common man’ foodie, and that is intolerable to food snobs.

    Triple D is the bomb!

    I almost titled this “Guy Fieri: The Donald Trump of Cuisine.” It really is a class thing.

    • #17
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:04 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  18. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):
    It’s standard practice that when my wife and I visit a new city she looks up what local places have been on DDD and we eat there.

    I do that all the time when I travel.

    • #18
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:05 AM PST
    • 1 like
  19. Liz Harrison Contributor

    Why hasn’t the media moved on from hating Guy, when Viceland has offered them a veritable bumper-crop of detestable foodies to rip apart daily?

    • #19
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:08 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. PHenry Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):
    Guy Fieri: The Donald Trump of Cuisine.

    I heard Trump puts Ketchup (or is it Catsup?) on his steak!

    • #20
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:21 AM PST
    • 1 like
  21. EJHill Podcaster

    It’s a peculiarity of modern celebrity that we have learned to judge people on style points instead of accomplishment. We also have learned that we must orient our feelings about other folks based on who they like or dislike, or more importantly, who likes or dislikes them.

    On a base level, Guy is the Donald Trump of food.

    Not to pick on our esteemed editor-in-chief, but let’s consider his lede:

    Guy Fieri is the tacky self-promoter famous for touring “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”…

    Jon’s Twitter feed describes himself as “The Undisputed King of Stuff,” and he regularly tweets out links to his own work. Tacky? Eye of the beholder. Self-promoting? Without a doubt. But that’s just the way of the world. None of us are golden age movie stars. It’s not like anyone has an army of PR men promoting our work, our images or even our all-around goodness as people. In vaudeville it was referred to as “the schtick” or the hook that meant the road to success.

    People hate Donald Trump for the same reason. And those same people loved Barack Obama because they mistook the press’ adulation of him as a sign of accomplishment.

    What people really crave is sincerity. And as George Burns was fond of pointing out, once you learn how to fake that you’ve got it made.

    • #21
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:28 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  22. thelonious Member

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):
    It’s standard practice that when my wife and I visit a new city she looks up what local places have been on DDD and we eat there. Can’t complain about any of them; they have all been good. I’m not sure that they’re better than other local restaurants, though.

    We ate at his establishment in Vegas a couple of years ago. We sat at the bar – I honestly don’t remember the food, but there was some pretty impressive cleavage on display by the young ladies working there. Perhaps my wife remembers the food.

    The food must have been so good your wife didn’t notice you staring at all the cleavage.

    • #22
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:28 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  23. DrewInWisconsin, Type Monkey Member

    The purple prose frequently employed by menu writers is hilarious. A pile of lettuce becomes “layers of crisp artisan greens.” I secretly wish I had that job.

    • #23
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:29 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  24. DrewInWisconsin, Type Monkey Member

    EJHill (View Comment):Not to pick on our esteemed editor-in-chief, but let’s consider his lede:

    Guy Fieri is the tacky self-promoter famous for touring “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”…

    I think that’s where I got confused.

    • #24
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:31 AM PST
    • Like
  25. JustmeinAZ Member

    Trink (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):
    That’s really interesting. My husband loves this guy. I’ll have to tell him how much he is loathed by the mainstream media. It will make him love him more. ?

    Right! My hubby’s up napping and I thought the same thing. He loves this guy:)

    Mine does too! Physically I think he’s repulsive but I occasionally enjoy the show. The lure of watching people eat eludes me.

    • #25
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:44 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  26. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    EJHill (View Comment):
    Not to pick on our esteemed editor-in-chief, but let’s consider his lede:

    Guy Fieri is the tacky self-promoter famous for touring “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”…

    Jon’s Twitter feed describes himself as “The Undisputed King of Stuff,” and he regularly tweets out links to his own work. Tacky? Eye of the beholder. Self-promoting? Without a doubt. But that’s just the way of the world. None of us are golden age movie stars. It’s not like anyone has an army of PR men promoting our work, our images or even our all-around goodness as people. In vaudeville it was referred to as “the schtick” or the hook that meant the road to success.

    I am completely a tacky self-promoter and very open about that fact. I worked in marketing for many years and understand that this promotion is key. Like Fieri, I own it. It’s American as apple pie, baby!

    • #26
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:49 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  27. Z in MT Inactive

    While his personal style is terrible, Triple D is mesmerizing.

    • #27
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:50 AM PST
    • 1 like
  28. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    The purple prose frequently employed by menu writers is hilarious. A pile of lettuce becomes “layers of crisp artisan greens.” I secretly wish I had that job.

    My favorite of all time, I saw at an ultra-luxe restaurant just outside of Phoenix: “Spanish Sea Bass in Marine Phytoplankton Juices w/ Sacred Harvested Olives from Arizona Monks”

    • #28
    • June 28, 2017, at 10:53 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  29. JWS Member
    JWS

    Guy has done more to promote small regional restaurants than all of the epicurean magazines and food critics will ever do. Sure…the food isn’t gourmet, but most people don’t always want “gourmet” food. Finding a good “3D” in most areas can be a hot-or-miss proposition, so I appreciate what he’s doing.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • #29
    • June 28, 2017, at 11:08 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  30. Michael Brehm Member

    From all I’ve read he’s a devoted family man and a hard worker; he’s an all-round stand-up Guy. So I’m willing to cut him some slack, even if he does bear an uncanny resemblance to the singer from Smash Mouth.

    • #30
    • June 28, 2017, at 11:10 AM PST
    • 5 likes