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Somewhere, Guy Fieri might be nursing his wounds with a grease-drenched, triple-stacked, bacon-covered cheeseburger or two after reading the blistering review of his new restaurant in The New York Times.
The spiky-haired, gregarious restaurateur and host of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives has just opened a restaurant in New York City’s Times Square called Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar.
Times critic Pete Wells might never be allowed to set foot on the premises ever again — and, given his takedown (which swiftly captured attention for its vitriol), he wouldn’t want to anyway.
Wells’ review is as tongue-in-cheek as it is devastating, with each sentence dripping with sarcasm and ending in a question.
It begins: “GUY FIERI, have you eaten at your new restaurant in Times Square? Have you pulled up one of the 500 seats at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar and ordered a meal? Did you eat the food? Did it live up to your expectations?”
In this style, Wells reveals a number of unflattering details: Fieri’s Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders “tasted like chewy air,” for one, the watermelon margarita “tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde, the nachos are “deeply unlovable,” and the server delivered a cup of hot water “when we asked for chai.”
Wells writes, with some detectable glee: “Has anyone ever told you that your high-wattage passion for no-collar American food makes you television’s answer to Calvin Trillin, if Mr. Trillin bleached his hair, drove a Camaro and drank Boozy Creamsicles? When you cruise around the country for your show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, rasping out slangy odes to the unfancy places where Americans like to get down and greasy, do you really mean it? Or is it all an act? Is that why the kind of cooking you celebrate on television is treated with so little respect at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar?”
As one of the most popular chef-lebrities on Food Network, Fieri could prove Teflon to bad reviews. But this one — from The New York Times, a cultural standard-bearer — surely has to sting.
Fieri has launched two restaurants on the West Coast: Johnny’s Garlic, an Italian pasta chain, and Tex Wasabi, a BBQ/sushi joint. Ironically, Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar is housed in the Times’ former headquarters on West 44th Street, according to the Romenesko media blog.
Fieri’s reps had no immediate comment for The Hollywood Reporter. The Food Network forwarded requests to his PR team.
Not surprisingly, Anthony Bourdain — author, newly minted host of CNN travel series Parts Unknown and one of Fieri’s most vocal critics — is having a field day. He fired off a tweet of mock outrage in Wells’ direction, writing: “leave Guy alone! Eleetist snob! Your just jeluss!”
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