Why We Actually Like Guy Fieri, and You Should Too

Fieri’s done more for the little guy than just about any food TV host

Restaurants Fieri visits usually become subject to something called the Fieri Effect.

Guy Fieri is one of the most divisive people on television, for one big reason: his style. The spiky hair, the backwards sunglasses, the loud shirts, the flip flops, the Cali frat boy demeanor, the “Flavortown” catchphrases. But let’s put all of that aside for a moment and focus on something else: the fact that he’s doing more than just about any other culinary celebrity to give hard-working chefs and small business owners their moment in the sun.

Take Fieri’s larger-than-life personality out of the equation for a moment and you’ll see his flagship show, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, for what it really is: a showcase for small-time chefs — many of whom have been working in obscurity for decades — to showcase their signature recipes and cooking skills for an audience of millions. Not only is this an incredibly rewarding experience for the chefs and their restaurants, but it also provides viewers with a window into local foodways and an opportunity to watch expert chefs cook their most popular dishes on their home turf. Also keep in mind that these aren’t great French chefs preparing quenelles de brochet; they’re unheralded chefs preparing their signature recipes for, say, the best macaroni and cheese you’ve never tasted.

In today’s America, where suburban roads and urban sprawl are increasingly dominated by chain restaurant after chain restaurant, it’s comforting to know that there are still thousands of independent restaurants with large local fan bases and a hardworking, uncelebrated chef in the kitchen. DDD doesn’t just give these chefs their 15 minutes of fame; it puts these restaurants on the map. You might be familiar with the “Fieri Effect,” wherein an appearance on the show results in hordes of curious new diners lining up to sample the dishes they saw on television. Being featured on Fieri’s show isn’t just a badge of honor; it’s usually also a financial windfall.

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And that’s why we like Guy Fieri.