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Superstar chef and restauranteur Guy Fieri has been at the forefront of helping save and protect independent restaurants that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent drop in business. “These mom and pop joints, they’re the fabric of your community,” he said. “It’s not just a place to go to eat, it’s a place to meet, it’s a place your kids get jobs… the place we go for our donations, our celebrations, we go there for everything.”

In the Variety Streaming Room, Fieri took deputy TV editor Michael Schneider to Flavortown to talk about his signature TV series and the importance of restaurants.

When the pandemic hit, Fieri had the idea to shoot his iconic show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” from home.

“Not only did everybody have a blast doing it, but it started to really encourage people that were watching the show to realize that their favorite restaurants may be closed for a visit, but weren’t closed for delivery and takeout,” said Fieri, who has raised more than $25 million for food workers impacted by COVID-19.

With DIY camera work and his wife leading the makeup department, Fieri shot about 20 episodes of what he dubs “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives To-Go” as well as 20 episodes of “Guy’s Grocery Games Delivery.”

Keeping his shows running during the pandemic also helped independent restaurants, like Red Wagon Pizza in Minneapolis, stay afloat.

“I said, ‘Pete, here’s the deal man. Send me some pizzas that you’ve been making. We’ll make some of the pizzas here, we have a wood fired oven,'” Fieri said. “And to get a call from your buddy Pete, who you know is dying on the vine without business and says, ‘I got 400 pizza orders across the country even into Europe yesterday after the show aired,’ you just go, amen. I mean, that’s the best thing in the world, right?”