On May 22 the shock-haired celeb chef — only the third in his field behind Wolfgang Puck and Bobby Flay — will be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
“I couldn’t have dreamed this big. This is out of the stratosphere of dreaming,” says the Emmy-nominated producer and star of such shows as “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” “Guy’s Grocery Games” and “Guy’s Big Project.”
Fieri has been a Food Network staple since his 2006 win on “Food Network Star.” His series “Guy’s Big Bite” premiered that year, and was followed by “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” — a potent combination of road tripping and eating — in 2007. That regular, blue-collar dude that people immediately wanted to talk to, and who drives that killer Chevy, has been working — hard. He started in the food world when he was only 10 and launched a pretzel vending cart. Later he added dimension to his food knowledge as an exchange student in France, and has traveled extensively in the service of discovering food. He’s opened many eateries since his first one in 1996 in Santa Rosa, Calif., his hometown. Fieri’s enthusiasm for food — and for life — is a big reason for his TV success.
“I’m not a TV person. I was never groomed for this — I think what people get is that I am the same guy; I am just being Guy,” he says.
He gives his executive producer Mark Dissin credit for finding his voice. “Mark was one of the first producers I ever worked with. Mark was such a great mentor because he was very interested in me being me.”
Although Fieri recalls telling Dissin he didn’t “want to sound like a dumbass,” Dissin told Fieri to trust him — “I’ll tell you if you sound like a dumbass. Otherwise, say it the way you wanna say it.”
Kathleen Finch, chief lifestyle brands officer at Discovery, who oversees Food Network, in addition to other networks including HGTV and Cooking Channel, says Fieri’s shows have “a very unique and valuable attribute,” in that they can repeat the shows multiple times but people still want to watch them. The reason? “He takes you on a journey,” she says.
Fieri believes that besides good food, a show needs “good stories. There’s places that are blowing up with Yelp reviews and write-in from fans. But it’s gotta have a story to tell.”
Now, Fieri seems to be everywhere all at once: hosting shows, developing shows, making guest appearances.
|Fieri, left, makes all kinds of food accessible to millions through multiple series on the Food Network.
Courtesy of Michael Moriatis/Food Network
“You take a meeting with him and he gives you the ideas that he’s been sitting on for weeks,” Finch says. “He’s remarkable at spotting talent. He mentors them; he coaches them on camera.”
Fieri may have come far since his humble beginnings as a child pretzel vendor, but he still stays true to his roots. For instance, he still lives in his hometown of Santa Rosa, and when, in 2017, one of the worst wildfires in California devastated that community and the surrounding ones, he helped feed local families and first responders.
“We are more powerful united as a community and have the ability to conquer and overcome. What I saw was mankind at its best,” he says.
It was hardly the first time he got involved in such a cause. After a tragic
fire in Redding, Calif., in 2018, Fieri recalls calling “up all my buddies” to
serve food up there, as well.
“You know when you’re cranking out 5,000, 10,000 meals a day it cuts through all the celebrity bulls—,” he says.