For the last month or so, Amber and I will generally close out the nights with some of our last words being “We’re rollin’ out! I’ll catch you next time, on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” shouted out in unison with Guy Fieri, the star of the show. We began watching the show semi-ironically, but now I don’t know that I have ever been so confused (intrigued?) by a human being—at least, not in the way I am confused by Guy. If one has not seen Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, I do not necessarily recommend it. The show involves Guy going around to different restaurants (all in the U.S.) and trying their food. I use the word “trying,” because there is no real reviewing present. In the several seasons of the show I have so far watched, I have never seen Guy give a negative review, or even some constructive criticism. Every location he visits could be considered a diner, drive-in, or dive in some light—though, the restaurants in the beginning were a bit dirtier, since business owners initially didn’t want to associate their investment as a “diner, drive-in, or dive.” The star will enter the restaurant, “interview” some customers about their menu favorites, watch the chef make the food (while seemingly helping them, but mostly just making a mess), and then shove said food into his mouth. Guy has spiked, bleached hair, tattoos, a goatee, and a wardrobe out of a classic rock band’s 1990’s reunion tour. Some of his best catch phrases include: “Welcome to Flavor Town,” “That’s all she wrote,” “Dynamite, brother,” and “Catch it right now, on Triple D.” As Amber and I watched more of the show, I became more curious.
According to a mashed.com article entitled “The Untold Truth of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” by Jake Vigliotti, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is largely the work of a camera crew, who arrive at every location a few days before Mr. Fieri to get shots of customers, the outside of the restaurant, close-ups of the food, etc. Every restaurant usually gets a three day shoot, with Guy appearing on the last day to ask a couple of questions and mostly to eat. He drives a red Camero to almost every episode, which is in fact, not his at all. It belongs to one of the producers. Guy allegedly drives it for short distances, however.
None of this really gets at what makes Guy so interesting, though, which is his lack of connection to any one given stereotype; in other words, he can’t be pinned down. Guy Fieri (fee-et-tee, as he pronounces it) was born in Northern California to two hippie parents. Their meat-free, mostly raw foods diet is actually what drove Guy into cooking. Rumor is that at ten-years-old, he and his father created a pretzel cart. Guy supposedly kept running this pretzel cart to earn money for college . Fieri then chose to spend a year of school in Paris, where he grew to love food more. He then went to Vegas for a degree in hospitality. Him and a friend soon opened Guy’s first restaurant in 1996, Johnny Garlic’s, which is now a small chain that still exists today. His season two winning of Food Network’s Next Food Network Star is what drove Guy into the limelight, in 2006.
Clearly, none if this is particularly strange. It is when you look into the nuances of Guy that one can see his oddities. Having the style of a classic “dad-rocker” is nothing to think twice about, but what about a dad-rocker who was raised by hippies and chose to go to Paris? The Food Network star also has what can only be described as a deep passion and admiration for the military—something which is generally seen as somewhat conservative. It seems just a bit surprising then, that Guy has also officiated some 100-plus gay weddings, including iconic chef Art Smith . None of this is to say that Guy is good, or bad, right, or wrong, just that I simply cannot get a read on what is going on with him. This is not always in a political frame, however. For example, K.S. Wang, in a motortrend.com article nonsensically entitled “Celebrity Drive: Food Network Celebrity Chef and Car Junkie is a True Bow-Tie Guy,” we learn that Guy is a passionate Chevy owner (with the exception of one Lamborghini—which, how could he not have?), with five under his belt. He owns more cars, though they are exclusively and proudly American-made. Yet, Guy is still so happy to tell people that his first car was a 1978 Datsun 280Z (which is a Japanese car). Nevertheless, perhaps the most vexing trait about Mr. Fieri is how he can seem like—in Anthony Bourdain’s words—such a “total douche,” but still manage to have amazing PR and has never seemed to cultivate a legitimate complaint . There are countless stories online—like the dailybeast.com one by Rachel Syme, entitled “The Trailer Park Gourmet”—of everyone from paying spectators of his live cooking shows, to reporters who want to dig up some dirt on the star, who walk away feeling like they have just talked to one of the only genuinely nice celebrities that seem to exist. Guy is known for having a good time with a live crowd, and will give out free drinks and get to know anyone he appears to have time for. With reporters, he is not afraid to laugh at himself, or to try and make light of someone who wants to tear his name to shreds for the sake of publicity. He doesn’t let things get to him, and he tries not to let them get to others, either. He’s the crazy uncle who is going to give you a noogie, making you want to punch him in the face; but he is also the crazy uncle who will get drunk at the family barbecue and make you laugh—genuinely laugh—like you haven’t in a while. I disagree with the New York Times piece by Julia Moskin, entitled “Guy Fieri, Chef-Dude Is [sic] in the House,” in which Julia claims Guy’s appeal can be mostly blamed for his attraction to men (that is, male viewers) and lower-income people. This is illustrated in the interview with a woman who claims that other cooking shows were “too preachy” for her.
This is where I struggle with Guy, I don’t know what to look at him as. Is he a chef? His restaurants regularly get poor reviews (Is it mean for me to say “hilariously” poor?). Gordon Ramsey has referred to him as a sham, as have other famous chefs—not to mention what the aspiring chef-star must think. And here is another struggle with Guy: the lay-people don’t seem to dislike him nearly as much as the popular people. I don’t think this makes him punk, necessarily, but it makes him something the likes of it.
As I grow, I am more and more curious about people like Mr. Fieri  and how I can incorporate their ethics into my (hopefully) sometime adult life. Guy is genuinely doing what he wants to do. Sure, a lot of Triple D is scripted, but it’s a script that he wrote himself. And when he isn’t sticking to the script, it’s his own shtick that we get to experience (endure?). He gets to travel all over (the U.S.), he gets to eat (junk) food for free, he runs into (B-list) celebrities all the time , and he gets to do (roughly) what he wants.
Though Guy will give a seemingly positive review to an old pb&j served in a shoe, he does have some apparent tell-tale signs as to whether or not he really likes a dish. The “mashed” article mentioned previously tells us that if Guy takes a bite and talks about the visual aesthetics of the place, he doesn’t like the food; just as well, if he stares into the eyes of the chef, the dish is a real winner. These things seem fairly obvious to me. The real question I’ve had on my mind is whether or not Guy has been doing drugs before every episode.
I would love to see Guy as a stand-up guy who travels around with women in the back of his ex-producer’s Camero doing the right thing, but something tells me there’s something fishy going on. Now, I don’t know Guy, I have only watched a fuckload of his shows and read just about every article I can Google about him. This is also coupled with my general pessimism. But really, I mean, he seriously does drive around in his ex-producer’s Camero with cheerleaders in the back. Not always, but it’s the screenshot for his entire show on Hulu right now. And even if you think, like, Well, what if it’s his daughter? (And it’s not, he only has two sons) that is even worse. Why would you willingly subject your daughter to be photographed in a cheerleader’s outfit, when she could just do it herself if she wanted to? And she could do it for someone other than her spiky-haired, backwards-sunglasses father. It’s just that, if this is someone’s first time looking at “Triple D,” and they see some bleached-hair guy in a sports convertible with a bunch of cheerleaders, they may not want to watch it with their family, and it is a family show.
Ethics aside, guy is seriously nice. Though I have always sided with the likes of Jeff Rosenstock’s new song “TV Stars,” it really does matter to be nice—even just seemingly. “TV stars don’t care about who you are” is true, indeed, but lots of people don’t care who you are. In a day-in-age in which I can obsess over what the “Puppy NFL” is up to, it is easy to see how many niches, subcultures, and cliques make it nearly impossible to really fit into a spot in which the average Hollywood celebrity is going to actually care about what the general public has to say or think. This is to say that Guy doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks, but is still a nice guy.
To show that Mr. Fieri doesn’t care about what people think of him, it might help to know that all of his cars are all either yellow or black—even his wife is encouraged to buy only those colors, and has. In every episode, no matter what time of year, Guy is also seen wearing sunglasses—if not on the front of his face, then on the back of his head . He is knowingly and willingly the bulk of so many internet memes. His two major-league acting scenes are in an Evel Knievel documentary (as himself) and in The Interview, with Jonah Hill and James Franco (also as himself in a one-second cameo).
My ultimate views on Guy Fieri come down to what I can only conclude is the issue I take with several other people who are a part of my life , which is that I simply disagree with them. My dad is a conservative (he’d say “independent”) republican, some of my friends are overtly liberal, and I hold my own opinions. All of this is fine, though I can say that I don’t seem to align with Mr. Fieri on most things. Like, I also don’t think its ethically a good idea to drag your kid along for a food-eating series around the world with you. At least let him finish high school.
I can go back and forth about how I feel about Guy Fieri, and have. The point is that he is an interesting person who is seriously fun to watch. Love him or hate him, he is a spectacle. If you are a conservative, he has lots on his resumé to make your dreams come true; the same still goes for the liberals. Whether you love the system or hate it, he can be your man. Forgive me for not straying more from political terms, but Guy would be the icon of bipartisanship, if ever there was one. Of course we can have several gay weddings, but let’s do it classy: tacos, tanks, and truckers, you know what I’m sayin’ bro? Sure, if Guy were president there would be legalized coke, but there would also be a military base in every town. Every flavortown! There would be no Muslim ban, only a ban on eating too many righteous yurtas and kumis. Want to smoke a joint? Sure, as long as your city has access to the most authentic Jamaican tacos this side of the hemisphere!
Okay, so things would not be “organized” so much, or even “realistic” if Mr. Fieri were president, but that’s all beside the point; he’s not asking to be president, just mayor of Flavortown. Sure, there are people who’ve spent years mastering what can only be considered the perfect culinary pallet, only to have Guy frat-boy all over it, and I’m sure they have a point. Does Guy have a right to go about America and judge mom-and-pop shops, always giving them an overwhelmingly positive review? I think so, and this brings me to where I disagree with Anthony Bourdain: he is (that is, Anthony) also paid to go around to different places and eat food. Obviously Mr. Bourdain handles this with a bit more class, traveling to places around the globe, trying things many Americans have near heard of, and documenting all of this in a pseudo-Thompson/ Bukowski-esque manner, but the concept is the same. Whether Anthony likes it or not—and he must really hate it—him and Guy share the same job, just with a different fan base. Or in my case, the same fan base. I think both shows are equally entertaining to watch, and have recently taken to pointing out how hilariously similar the two shows are—if just in my own head. Guy will be presented with an otherwise awkward situation, where he’ll have to think of some not-so-clever joke to accompany either a chef who doesn’t want to play by the rules, or a judge who seriously hates a dish that a contestant has to present. Bourdain will (thirty minutes later) be presented with a dish that no living person could enjoy, yet he will chase his terrible food with some local-inhabitant liquor. Here entails the true difference between Fieri and Bourdain: one can drink and the other cannot. On their show, that is .
One other problem I take with Guy, however, is that he claims to be such a “car nut,” but has claimed that his longest drive ever was between some Northern California town and some Oregon town, totaling three hours and nineteen minutes, the long way. This is a type of drive that I have taken completely at random at several points in my life; it is hardly a long drive and for a self-proclaimed “car nut,” should be nothing short of a pit stop.
Overall, though, I think there is something to be learned from Guy. Over and over, the whole claim-to-fame is that he is just a regular dude who happened to win a cooking challenge. You can genuinely see that, though. Guy makes jokes that only the only out of touch camp counselors at IDRAHAJE (does that even still exist?) would make. He is fun for the whole family, in the sort of way that half of the family is making fun, and the other half is having fun. He is all too much himself, however off putting that may be. Guy is almost something mysterious and avant-garde—is he really the willing mayor to “Flavortown,” or is he something more ? The private details of Mr. Fieri’s life are (understandably) mostly under wraps. All that I can say though, is that Guy is either a mad man or a genius. It is genius to be a food enthusiast who has his own hobbies and goals, and makes money primarily by eating good food in front of TV cameras. It is absolutely insane, however, to believe for one second that I will buy into the lifestyle of eating food to make a living. It is this mystery about Guy that keeps me watching and keeps me guessing—is he a real-life badass, or just another burn-out. The evidence seems to go either way and I think only time will tell; as with anything else. A view on Guy probably just comes down to a difference of opinions. I like to hold on to the one that Guy is somewhat of a pseudo-punk outsider—doing his own thing to make money for his family, but in reality knows better.
But these things can always go either way.
: Most of this is all general knowledge about Fieri that can be found on any number of Top Ten lists about the chef.
: Art Smith’s wedding took place in 2015 and was part of a multi-wedding celebration to honor the American overturning of the ban on gay marriage.
: I use the word “legitimate” because Bourdain is not the only person to have railed against Guy. Fieri seems to be an almost constant target of battering from reality chefs, to real chefs alike. This sort of makes sense, when a Food Network star has never complained about food outright, I suppose.
: Meaning, famous people who somehow seem to fit, at least loosely, into the “punk” category. There is no one quite like Guy, let’s be honest.
: Ex. Gene Simmons, Kid Rock, and Rosie O’ Donell (though his personal favorites are obviously the retired football players and coaches).
: Come to think of it, I have never seen Guy wear a long-sleeve, either. He constantly visits low-cost cities in their cheapest months, but never seems to be physically cold, somehow. What a champ.
: Yes, if someone is in your bedroom (on TV or otherwise) for several hours a week, they are a part of your life.
: There has been a rumor that Guy’s tour bus is completely stocked with nothing to drink but PBR.
: Let’s keep in mind that Rowan Atkinson—Mr. Bean—is a biochemist.