Guy Fieri: ‘Nothing can replace what appearing on TV can do’ for small restaurants

Of the few positive things that came out of 2020, one was the redemption of Guy Fieri. Guy had a few growing pains when he shot to success at a young age. The biggest attacks launched at him were usually about his big personality or appreciation of unhealthy food (I don’t believe the claims made by a disgruntled employee.) I know his New York restaurant tanked. But the amount of good work he’s done is what is and should be getting press. Especially the good he did last year for restaurant workers. Guy just signed a huge deal with The Food Network that will allow him to continue to help restaurants and staff as they try to recover from the devastation of COVID shutdowns. This is mentioned in a new profile in THR highlighting his good work.

Like most people, Fieri is taking baby steps in the return to normalcy — though his pre-pandemic status quo meant supplying Food Network with a dizzying 80 annual hours of original programming. Fieri was among the first to film remotely in 2020, appearing on air within a week of nationwide lockdown orders, so he naturally was back on the road as soon as he was allowed.

“Here’s my research for Hawaii; we’re getting ready to go shoot there next,” says Fieri, sliding a spiral-bound agenda of eateries across the table that separates us. Some businesses anointed by his Midas touch have seen sales climb fivefold after Fieri scarfs their creations on TV, a stat that carries new significance for the host given the calamitous effect of the downturn on the restaurant business. “Then I’m trying to finally put Puerto Rico together,” he adds, grabbing another binder. “They need some love.”

Fieri sharpened this skill while also in the past year raising more than $25 million for food workers left unemployed by COVID-19 closures. He is now devoting most of his energy and, under a landmark new TV deal, his creative output into rebuilding the industry that once poked fun at his unrefined aesthetic and bacon-bedazzled menus. These days, it’s hard to not take Fieri seriously. As he plans to beat the drum for restaurant relief even louder — and as those hardest hit by America’s selective recession start to fall out of the news cycle — the goateed gastronomist’s sense of purpose may be the thing to finally eclipse his brash persona.

“Nothing can replace what this kind of recognition, appearing on TV, can do for these people and their businesses … for their lives,” he says, taking a sip of coffee. “I need to keep doing this because it just needs to be done.”

His philanthropy long has been known in Sonoma County, where he’s fed frontline workers and displaced neighbors impacted by area wildfires. But this latest crisis is playing out on a much larger stage and finds Fieri, who turned 53 in January, moving into the type of elder statesman role previously reserved for white-tablecloth ambassadors like José Andrés and Tom Colicchio.

Such culinary elites as Marcus Samuelsson, Nancy Silverton and Michael Voltaggio are game to pal around with the anointed “Mayor of Flavortown” on his multiple series as he continues to remind audiences — and anyone who’ll listen to him — that there’s still no clear path back to normal for the hobbled restaurant community. It’s a message that he hopes is louder than his frosted tips.

“You can easily be misinterpreted when you have platinum blond hair and tattoos,” says Fieri, making eyes at Smokey the Chihuahua. “But I’m not for everybody. I don’t know if anybody is.”

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

We have gone to restaurants within driving distance that we saw on DDD. And we always tell them that’s what brought us there too. We’ve made notes of restaurants in cities in which our friends live too. Guy is right, he’s generating a bunch of business for these places. He said later in the interview that he does not want to be seen as a critic, he only “highlights.” He said if he doesn’t like the food, he won’t show it. So if it’s on his show, it’s already got his endorsement. I love that he’s getting down to Puerto Rico to highlight their food. Not only do they need some love like Guy said, they have some incredible food. When I worked conventions, we’d often ask a cab driver we could trust to take us where the locals ate. The place one took us in PR was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

There’s a lot more in the article about Guy’s charity. With his first projects back in the studio, at home versions of DDD and Guy’s Grocery Games, he redirected the prize money to struggling restaurants. They talked about him feeding firefighters and first responders during the devastating wildfires the last couple of years. He also convinced The Food Network to build his Flavortown Market for Guy’s Grocery Games in Santa Rosa near his home. But he got them to agree to stock the market with only real and edible items so all unused food could be donated to the Redwood Gospel Ministry. Like I said, I’m glad Guy’s being acknowledged for the work he’s done. He took his lumps for years. It’s time he got some flowers.


Photo credit: Instagram

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28 Responses to “Guy Fieri: ‘Nothing can replace what appearing on TV can do’ for small restaurants”

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  1. faithmobile says:

    I’m so proud of what Guy has done for Sonoma County, we used to make fun of his restaurants because they appealed to the hoi polloi with their silly names and silly menus. But after the fires everything changed- he showed up and fed people-and kept feeding people and raised money and it was amazing. So I am no longer surprised by his charitable heart. I urge everyone not keep ordering takeout from mom and pop restaurants.

    • faithmobile says:

      My sentence was supposed to read”to keep ordering from restaurants” ugh!

  2. Becks1 says:

    My first thought when I saw this headline was ” I LOVE Diners Drive-ins and Dives and yes he’s cheesy but fun.” As I’m reading I clicked through to the old CB story from last year and that was literally my comment, right down to the capital “LOVE” lol. At least I’m consistent?

    Everytime we watch DDD (which is a lot bc I broke down and subscribed to Discovery+, whats one more service at this point, its ridiculous, but I wanted my David Attenborough documentaries, the series “Nature’s Great Events” is my favorite, so soothing, ANYWAY lol…) but every time we watch DDD I am googling the restaurants, seeing where they are, the rest of the menu, etc. I think it definitely encourages people to try those restaurants that you might think “hmm I doubt there’s anything special THERE.”

    We do have one of his cookbooks and its really good (for grilling) but it is not necessarily simple.

  3. Seraphina says:

    We recently tried a few restaurants on a road trip on DDD. Not impressed. I think it’s a good list to use if you are out of town and want to try, especially if you are a fan of the show. I stopped watching because he has his favorite foods and my friends and I picked up on that fact,
    Best advertisement for small restaurants is word of mouth by the locals.

  4. NTheMiddle says:

    Love him… He’s a passionate and positive influence on the restaurant industry, albeit cheesy. DDD is a fun show to watch, I only wish he wouldn’t try to shove his son, Hunter, into the spotlight. Bless him, he does NOT have Guy’s personality or talent for engaging people.

    • Becks1 says:

      Oh man we were watching some episodes with Hunter and they were a little awkward (but I thought it was only that one episode, they were in Alaska and it was part of his bday trip).

    • Astrid says:

      Totally agree. I enjoy watching DDD and I think Guy is a good person. However, the shows with Hunter are a bit painful to watch. Not everyone is meant to be on TV and be engaging.

    • paranormalgirl says:

      I like Hunter and I think he’s come a long way.

  5. CariBean says:

    I watch DDD several times a week since I also have Discovery+. I really enjoy Guy and find him to be one of those guys we’d like to have a meal and a beer with. I feel like I’ve watched Hunter grow up and I like when he has him on his shows.

  6. Marie says:

    He specifically called out Bezos as someone who did not return his calls when he contacted large corporations to help him for his restaurant relief work. That guy is really something else.

  7. SmalltownGirl says:

    He is right—When we plan vacations, I often include restaurants that were on the food network (they used to have a handy city guide), including Triple D. And I have had some really great food because of it.

  8. Savu says:

    I think often about my beloved Anthony Bourdain, and his scathing opinion of Guy. Anthony was wrong.

    It’s fun to see a good person be unapologetically themselves.

    • ncboudicca says:

      Same, same…Bourdain really was the one who convinced me it was okay to think Fieri was a no-talent, comic book character. I have absolutely changed my mind over the last couple of years when I realized what good he actually does with his tv shows, plus knowing that he fed all the people in Sonoma after the fires.

      • Juniper says:

        I’d like to think that Tony would have apologized, had he been alive today.

  9. ClareV says:

    Awww I love Guy! He seems fun and cheesy and like he’s doing his best to help out communities (side-eyeing SO many other good network celebrities).

    • Becks1 says:

      I think one of the big differences between him now and other food network stars is that his work is so restaurant focused, even now. With DDD, he has seen nonchain restaurants all over the country and so I think he had a better sense of how some of these places would be affected by the shutdown. I think even though some other stars may have gotten their start in a restaurant, they have been removed from that environment for a long time.

  10. Lucy2 says:

    He came to one of our local restaurants early on in his career for DDD- people here still talk about it like it happened yesterday, and it’s still advertised “as seen on”.
    I’ve only ever really seen his show at my friends’ house because they watch those channels constantly, but he seems like a truly decent guy who has done a lot of good things for many people.

  11. Watson says:

    I love guy fiery. He’s a massive cheese ball who has done an incredible amount of charity work. We’ve been so impressed with him!!

  12. AnnaC says:

    I don’t mind him and appreciate all he has done for restaurants and their workers. However, pre pandemic, we often cursed him as he did episodes of DDD at a couple of our local gems. During peak season or when a rerun aired they became overrun with tourists, influencers, etc. and another place we locals would avoid.

    • Christine says:

      There’s only been one local restaurant featured on DDD and it was terrible to begin with so really not a big loss lol. I’m more upset about a restaurant that was featured on Queer Eye that you literally cannot eat at anymore :( Used to go up there all the time for lunch but the lines are so long and they sell out within hours of opening.

  13. manda says:

    That Shane Torres bit about Guy Fieri (how everyone makes fun of him but he has never done anything wrong) is so funny. I went on my first (and last!) cruise a few years ago and there was a Guy Fieri burger place right by the pool. The burgers were SO good, but the place piped in audio of Guy talking about food and that was really annoying.

  14. Elo says:

    Guy Fieri has proven himself to be a treasure. He’s done so much good, I’m going to stop purposefully getting him mixed up with the lead singer of Smashmouth.

  15. Bean says:

    I think he’s fantastic – he took a lot of flack but kept going. He’s done so much good in this world and I’m super impressed with him. Plus I love DDD and try and hit the restaurants he highlights!

  16. Katy Bowman says:

    I’m going to ‘fess to a secret Fieri crush. It only grows as I learn of his philanthropy and altruism.

    I said to hubby the other day that The Food Network is pretty much Fieri’s bitch at this point. We love having GGG and DDD on in the background for a night of chilling. It’s such goodhearted, silly, and intriguing fun. (Make a Napoleon with ingredients in your house, but NOT puff pastry, cream, or creme pat?) I love it.

  17. tealily says:

    I love how he has something positive to say about every place he goes, and it truly seems genuine. Also, remember when he officiated that huge gay wedding? Guy’s good people. And DDD reruns got me through the darkest days of the pandemic. Some days it was all I could stand to watch.

  18. Liz version 700 says:

    I never understood the hate for Guy. He does a journeyman’s heroic amount of work to help restaurants and over lockdown my husband and I have gotten hooked on Guy’s Grocery games. He seems authentic and charitable and I can’t hate anyone who has those traits.

  19. Sarah says:

    I love Guy’s shows, he is correct a show on TV definitely gets me interested in checking it out and there has been at least one spot that was on one of the food channels that made me go and check it out. As a matter of fact, folks come from all over JUST because it was featured on a show.