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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.
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!
— Guy Fieri (@GuyFieri) May 11, 2020
— Guy Fieri (@GuyFieri) March 27, 2020