Guy Fieri has raised over $22 million for restaurant workers, remains unproblematic

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I’ve been thinking about Guy Fieri after reading that he raised over $22 million for restaurant workers (that link says it’s $20 million, it’s since increased) in a partnership with the National Restaurant Association. They’ve given out over 20,000 grants of $500 each to restaurant workers through their Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. Unfortunately they’ve had so many applications they’re not taking any more. You never hear a bad word about Fieri, which is rare in his industry, he’s LGBTQ-positive and in 2015 he officiated 101 same sex weddings in honor of his late sister. Yes his food is pedestrian, he looks like a cartoon and he can be gross when he eats, but if that’s the worst you can say about him, it’s incredible for a rich famous chef. Plus he promotes small businesses around the country in Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, which has been airing for 11 years! (I got that idea from the essay I mention below, I wouldn’t have come up with that on my own.)

Buzzfeed’s Scaachi Koul wrote a great editorial in praise of Fieri, especially in light of all the bullsh-t we’ve heard from Chrissy Teigen and Alison Roman over the past week. (Also see: Paula Deen, Mario Batalli.) Fieri isn’t talking smack about anyone, he’s not sexist and he doesn’t harass or abuse his workers. (Yes I know that bar is low sometimes, particularly for white men, but he really exceeds it.) I can’t do justice to her story in this excerpt, so please read it at the source for more:

You know who’s on Animal Crossing? Guy is. You know who has enough self-awareness to know that he looks like Ursula from The Little Mermaid? Guy does. Who changed his name from “Ferry” to the significantly more complicated “Fieri,” and then also makes some of the least-pretentious food known to humankind? That’s right, it’s the creator of the Red Apple Hooch Bowla.

The idea that any of you would rather spend eight hours making shallot jam for a shallot pasta that is, by any measure, fine, as opposed to spending half an hour making queso fundido and just going ham on it with some chips, proves to me that you are lying to no one but yourselves. If you won’t listen to me, then listen to this Shane Torres set about Fieri, a spirited defense of the hero we need. “He goes around the country to small businesses and gives them free advertising on a national platform on a weekly basis,” Torres said, “but because his hair looks like he was electrocuted while drinking Mountain Dew, people act like we need to saw his head off and put it on the internet.”

It’s also, frankly, a pleasure to read or follow a recipe by someone with absolutely no pretension. There is nothing beautiful about Fieri food. There’s no status that comes with making it. People don’t share photos of Fieri recipes on Instagram after they make them. There’s no glee about using turmeric incorrectly. Many New York Times recipes are accessible, delicious, and comforting, but some of them can tumble into smugness and preciousness — like, for example, the way Roman dishes in particular go from being just something you had for dinner to becoming The Stew or The Cookies, as if there can only be one.

[From Buzzfeed]

I really like the point that Fieri isn’t claiming to invent new dishes, using fancy ingredients or appropriating another culture’s food without credit. In regard to Shane Torres’ commentary about people making fun of Fieri because he looks ridiculous, my kid had a lot of respect for Fieri. My son is 15, so that means the Internet LOVES Fieri, do you know what I mean? If teenagers like him and say they’ve only read good things about him, it means something.

Fieri and Bill Murray are going to do a live nacho cook off with their sons, who both work in the restaurant business, to raise money for the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. It’s happening Friday on Food Network’s Facebook at 5pm. The announcement is below. Terry Crews and Shaq are the judges and I want to know if they’re going to judge on sight or if they’re going to get the actual nachos and taste them. Murray and Fieri did an interview with Jimmy Fallon to announce it. You can tell that this cause is personal to Fieri as he spoke passionately about it. He coached Fallon through a cooking segment making nachos and Bill Murray talked so much smack! Of course they drank too. Spoiler – at the end they all chugged hot sauce followed by a liquor chaser. I’ve put that interview and the announcement of the competition below!

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60 Responses to “Guy Fieri has raised over $22 million for restaurant workers, remains unproblematic”

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  1. Erinn says:

    And just like that, I’m a fan of Fieri. He’s always been much more of a meme than a real person to me, but reading this article, I’m fully on board. Time to go cook book shopping!

    • happinessisrare says:

      came here just to say the same thing.

    • MDTH says:

      Watch his quarantine recorded episode videoed by his family about takeout from his favorite diners over the years- with all of them zooming in- it had me BAWLING. I’m a fan now, too.

  2. Becks1 says:

    I LOVE Diners, drive-ins and dives. Yes, he’s cheesy and gets way too excited over the spices the cooks/chefs are using, but he’s fun, and he’s promoting these small businesses, and he’s so genuinely positive about it all.

    I saw that Shane Torres set when it first came out and it really did make me think….why do people hate him SO much? Sure his hair is a little too bleached maybe and he says cheesy things like “flavortown” but then he does stuff like raise 20 million for restaurant workers, or feed firefighters during a forest fire and its like….I can handle “flavortown” in exchange for the other stuff.

    • TIFFANY says:

      I think they hate of Guy because he is in a industry where you wait for the other shoe to drop and that will justify the hate you have on him.

      But there really is nothing. I don’t watch Triple D as much but I find myself always watching Guy’s Grocery Games when it is on. Those challenges are so much fun and are never mean spirited.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I think he really has changed Americans minds about chain vs. independent restaurants. In college I waited tables at this AMAZING little place, but it was always empty while the Olive Garden was packed. Now when I go back, it’s the little independent restaurants that are hot and in demand. The chains still have their audience, but I think far more people see the quality and personality that small restaurants can offer. We’re better because Guy (and Anthony) educated America.

      • Atticus says:

        Funny you mention Anthony in parallel to Guy – Anthony notoriously hated Guy and ripped him publicly quite a bit at the time of the NYT review that is mentioned in another comment here. I agree with you – both have done a lot for the industry, albeit from polar opposite perspectives. Strikes me that we can respect and agree with both…so maybe there is room for all different ways of advancing one’s passions in the food industry (cough cough Allison Roman).

        The thing about Guy is that he brings a love of the rituals of food, not necessarily the most sophisticated high end cuisine but what meals mean for us. I’ve never felt that more since the quarantining. Sure, I’ve supported my favorite local restaurants by getting takeout. It’s not the same as the act of going to a restaurant, sitting down and sharing a meal. And some of those best experiences happen in a diner, a drive in or a dive.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I’m aware of Anthony’s feelings about Guy, and in some ways I agree, but I think they both have a lot to offer. I think Guy did play a part in the trend of putting a billion toppings on burgers (quantity over quality), but overall I think his main contribution is celebrating the mom and pop places.

        Bourdain was so wonderful because he could take you from the finest dining establishment to a humble mother’s home kitchen, and he would treat both chefs with the utmost respect. Anthony really captured food as it relates to culture and politics and families and regions. I think both of these men have done good things.

    • Züri says:

      I’ve got nothing but love for Guy. Yes, he had a restaurant with donkey sauce and it was a disaster. (We made the sauce once out of curiosity and it was terrible.) But I love his shows and he has a history of doing a lot of really great projects for charity. He and Jose Andres have really shown us that chefs can do so much good!

      • Tiffany says:

        I believe that Jose Andres will receive a Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

      • Atticus says:

        Yes!! Jose Andres is the best. Tiffany, I think you are right about the Nobel Peace Prize and it would be so well deserved.

      • Züri says:

        @Tiffany and @Atticus Jose Andres should absolutely receive a Nobel for his work and humanitarian engagement.

  3. Teresa says:

    During the Santa Rosa fires (his hometown) he did a ton of non publicized work and charity like cooking meals for the masses of misplaced people. I will admit i didn’t always care for him but honestly now his shows, especially in quarantine, are fun and jovial and something I truly enjoy watching.

  4. McMom says:

    I love to cook, but tend to avoid most celebrity cooks because I don’t usually love their recipes. After reading this, I’m going to seek out his recipes and do what I can to support him. I just searched up some of his recipes and they don’t look “basic” at all. Perhaps not as healthy as what I would prefer, but they look tasty.

  5. STRIPE says:

    I’ve never understood the hate for this guy. If he’s not you cup of tea, I get that. But the hate is so weird

    • Some chick says:

      It’s because he calls aioli “donkey sauce.” And dresses funny. But, yeah, he genuinely loves food and he makes food that people genuinely love. And he helps out folks in need such as the firefighters doing NorCal wildfire work.

      I haven’t got a bad word to say about him (and at this point, if I did, I would keep it to myself).

      Mocking people for dressing funny is so grade school anyway.

  6. Mina_Esq says:

    That’s so good to hear! I love Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. My brother, of all people, got me into it back in the day.

  7. Jenn says:

    We’ve learned we cannot watch Diners, Drive Ins and Dives at home before dinner. I never want what I’ve planned, I want what I just watched! Lol. It’s not gourmet, it’s ooey gooey goodness that is so bad for you, but soooo good!
    And Guy might be goofy, but he’s genuine. I can forgive a lot, when someone is genuinely excited about what they’re doing.

  8. Ripley says:

    I love him. Just a decent human…

  9. Jekelly says:

    I love Guy, I feel like his shows are so fun. My six year old loves Guys grocery games. He’s always telling me “winner winner chicken dinner”.

  10. Deanne says:

    This is really refreshing to read. Cool guy tips aside, he’s always come across like a genuinely decent person. He clearly loves what he does and it shows. I see a Guy Fieri cookbook in my near future.

  11. Yoyo says:

    Guy is real, he went to his his hair stylist and she asked him how he wanted his hair styled, he told her do what ever she want to do, and this was the result, he said his wife was not crazy about, but he loved it.
    I like that he treats people the same way, be it a diner, drive-in or a dive. And when he returns to visit years later, the owners are genuinely happy to see him.

  12. smee says:

    “because his hair looks like he was electrocuted while drinking Mountain Dew”
    Insanely accurate description!

    • elle says:

      I am laughing with tears in my eyes, because this is freaking hilarious, but I now have a soft spot in my heart for him because of this story.

  13. Yoyo says:

    Guy said he met his wife at restaurant he was managing in California, she is from the East Coast and her friend worked at the restaurant and had arrange to meet her there, unluckily for the friend she was let go that day.
    Guy told the former employee she should not be in the restaurant, and her friend was so angry at him, Guy eventually got them out of the restaurant and now she is his wife Of twenty Years.
    Apparently she likes to be behind the scenes.

  14. KeepCalmandBergeron says:

    I love Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives! He always manages a positive thing to say about the dishes in front of him. You know there have to be some dishes that didn’t live up to expectations or just weren’t that good but, on camera, he always finds something positive to say. Plus, he has been doing this for 11 years, that has to be thousands of restaurants, and not one bad word has come out about him. The odds of that are almost impossible.

  15. Wilma says:

    I really like him. At the end of 2016 I was angry 24/7. To balance out a bit (my body did not handle stress well) I now only watch positive people on tv and definitely is one of those. He just seems so genuinely happy to stuff food in his face.

  16. Nia says:

    I try to go to restaurants that he shows on TV that are in my area. My sister and I when travel try to find one that he has had on as well. It is a fun thing to do.

  17. Kendeezy says:

    I’m glad he’s helped out restaurant workers (that weren’t his own, ahem). I have never worked for the man but have I have witnessed him talk about himself 75% at the funeral of a child. I also know employees of the last restaurant he owned in Sonoma County, Tex Wasabi’s, who were completely unaware of their shutdown and never got severence or some sort of pay for the last week (s) they worked there. Some of those employees worked for him for 10+ years since he created Johnny Garlics. This seems more like media fluff than reality. Good job tho.

    • Christy says:

      I was enjoying the positive take on Guy Fieri so I wanted to make sure I understand where you are coming from before I adjust my mental view.

      It looks like Guy Fieri’s business partner bought him out of Tex Wasabi’s in 2016, three years before the restaurant closed (in 2019) so he would not have been involved at the time your acquaintances/friends were not paid.

      As to the funeral, do you mean you were present at the funeral of a child (and, that is so very sad) at which Guy Fieri was also present? And he was giving a eulogy or something and talked about himself? Or talked about himself in the “pass the mike” type situation? Or talked about what an impact the child had had on him? Just trying to understand what you are describing.

  18. Mumbles says:

    I’ll never forget the horribly snotty review of the Guy Fieri restaurant in the New York Times that so many people snickered at and sent around to their friends. It went beyond criticizing the food. The entire subtext mocked the people who would go there. I’d take Guy Fieri over the NYT styles reporter who this week wrote an entire article about wealthy people who fled the cities to nice places during the pandemic, herself included.

    • lucy2 says:

      I think that’s when I noticed the hate for him too.

      I mean…no one HAS to watch his show or go to his restaurant. If he’s not hurting anyone, let him be. People are way too quick to want something to criticize all the time. And it sounds like he does a lot of good things, so good for him.

    • Kathryn says:

      I remember that too! In fact, that’s all I knew about Guy Fieri, so I dismissed him too. Thanks to Celebitchy for educating me about his good works

    • Becks1 says:

      I remember that, that was awful.

      I hate food snobs. If you like something, eat it. I like more gourmet “foodie” types of restaurants, and I like Panera, and sometimes even McDonald’s. I like to make homemade pasta and sometimes I’ll buy the frozen Stouffers lasagna. I don’t have time for people who make others feel bad about what they like to eat. If someone likes Guy Fieri’s restaurant, then eat there.

  19. LaUnicaAngelina says:

    Ol lady in red has her eye on the Guy in the last photo. She’s like, “I already been knew.”

  20. Ana Maria says:

    I disliked him without knowing him or his shows, just because some years ago I read somewhere that Anthony Bourdain hated him, and I loved/love Bourdain(RIP)…but then…lockdown, quarantine…and I watched his shows on FoodNetwork…Fieri is funny, unpretencious, passionate about food and cooking, and now having read this article, I’m a fan…looking forward to the nacho cook-off!

  21. Lisa says:

    Thank you for posting this! I now have an insane amount of respect and appreciation for Guy. It’s also so refreshing to read a positive post. I feel like maybe society isn’t going to totally collapse today :) .

  22. Layla Beans says:

    I like him too. His show, Guy’s Grocery Games, is so much fun to watch. My kids love it too. The judges on that show are obviously all friends, and the camaraderie feels real. We were so sad when Carl Ruiz (a GGG/DDD regular) passed away. Guy is a good egg.

  23. Spicecake38 says:

    I watch Triple D and have always found Guy to be a super cool and nice person.
    I tend to eat quite healthfully,but my favorite foods are bar/dive foods!Just sooo good!Now I want something greasy!

  24. Chris says:

    He’s unpretentious, fun, and genuine – all things that the fancy food industry isn’t. I’ve been watching him for years. He’s great.

  25. Ash says:

    He seems like a fun and good dude!

  26. Valerie says:

    I used to dislike him based on homophobic comments he’d made in the past, but I didn’t know until recently that he’d reformed his ways! So good for him, I’m happy and now stan, lol. Change is the best apology.

    • paranormalgirl says:

      He apparently didn’t make those comments. His beloved (now deceased) sister was gay and he had always supported her and all her LGTBQ endeavors. The comments were made by a disgruntled former employee and they have never been substantiated.

      He grates on me sometimes, but he does a lot of good for the restaurant industry and for people in general. My daughter likes the show on his ranch with his friends.

  27. Marcie says:

    I’ve always liked triple d, it’s just a fun way to check out other restaurants across the country and you can tell that he really enjoys the food. I also believe the concept itself is unpretentious bc he travels the country to smaller restaurants and chats with owners of all different backgrounds. Plus, his sons seem really chill and respectful whenever they go to a restaurant with him, which days a lot about the way they were raised.

  28. Jaded says:

    He seems like a decent, down to earth fellow but his friendship with Ted Nugent is problematic for me.

  29. Bunny says:

    You’ve done the impossible and made me a Guy Fieri fan.

    There’s a Jamaican restaurant downtown with Guy Fieri’s autograph on the wall. I always sort of smirked when I see it. No more. He sounds like a great guy.

    I was a server and bartender for years and know that people who do those jobs are suffering right now. He’s awesome for helping.

    Please tip service people right now. They need it more than ever.

  30. Yati says:

    He’s always been the type that what you see is what you get and he’s likable but not overly charismatic or try hard. Just a regular guy. He had an episode in which his teen son shows up and it’s super endearing to watch them interact.

  31. Amber says:

    I’ve always loved his show. I like how he promotes all different kinds of cuisines. Like there’s always burger joints and stuff but then he will show a local place with great Burmese food or Peruvian food. He’s always so enthusiastic about all of it, and I like that the format of his show is basically handing over the microphone to the cooks in all these different places for them to explain their techniques/ingredients/cultural history of a dish. He’s just there to ask questions and learn from them. His show is basically a much more light-hearted and goofy version of what Anthony Bourdain used to do (who I also love, RIP).
    I’ll take ‘goofy and corny but with genuine passion and enthusiasm’ over ‘pretentious and fancy’ any day. Plus the car he drives on the show is so beautiful.

  32. Happymama8 says:

    I did a commercial with him for Rolaids and everyone on set always had the nicest things to say about him. He was friendly and he didn’t act like a diva. This makes me like him even more.

  33. Ames says:

    So his last name is basically the “spee-eye-der” from Mega Mind?

    Love it.

    By all accounts, he’s one of the good ones. Certainly puts his money where his mouth is. I admire him and wish him well.

  34. ravynrobyn says:

    I live in his hometown & went to a grocery store right after watching one of his shows that featured a yummy but horrifically unhealthy meat entree. As I was walking into the store, he was walking out. I said I wanted to try his recipe but it was too unhealthy. Without breaking his stride he told me substitutions to make it healthier. Nice guy!

    My brother lives on the same street as Guy (not fancy at all) & said one time Guy yelled at the kids to get off of his lawn. I think that makes him humanl ol.

  35. 360degrees says:

    Watched a few of his vegan clips and I liked how he wasn’t negative or disparaging but seemed genuinely enthusiastic about the vegan dishes he was watching others cook and that he made himself. One of the few food people on YT I can stomach (many just don’t seem genuine or resort to gimmicks). This makes me like him more.

  36. Faye G says:

    I hate foodie snobs, I prefer simpler real food anyway. I’ll take well prepared slab of barbecue over a gourmet restaurant meal any day. People like what they like, taste is very personal, so what if some people just prefer a good burger and want to call it a day?