#1 His given surname isn't Fieri.
It also wasn’t the one with that ridiculous pronunciation "Fiedi," because he was born Guy Ramsey Ferry on January 22, 1968. But the 1995 name change wasn’t just posturing. He did it at his wedding to honor his immigrant great grandfather, whose name really was Fieri.
#2 He learned to cook out of desperation.
You’ve heard stories about people being raised by wolves? With his spiked hairdo, Fieri looks like he might have been raised by porcupines, but that’s not the case. He was brought up in California by hippie parents who fed him a steady diet of tofu, which can provoke understandable rebellion. So he taught himself how to cook, living out that rebellion with a steadier diet of meat. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
#3 He never attended culinary school.
Ever the businessman, Fieri opened a pretzel cart at age ten and further honed his cooking skills while in France, where he was a foreign exchange student during his junior year of high school. He later attended UNLV in Las Vegas, earning a degree in hotel management. After graduation, Fieri developed restaurant concepts for Stouffer’s and managed several restaurants in Southern California before opening multiple locations of his own restaurants Johnny Garlic’s (pasta meets grilling) and Tex Wasabi’s (barbecue meets sushi).
#4 He got his big break at the Food Network by winning a contest.
Fieri occasionally records promos for the reality series Next Food Network Star, but he shot to stardom at age 38—and already successful financially—by being the winner of its second season in 2006. His culinary point of view: “Off the Hook California Cuisine.” Food Network marketing head Susie Fogelson has gushed that she hasn’t seen anyone “connect” to such a wide range of viewers since Emeril Lagasse. The key to Fieri’s constant airtime is that he “really resonates with men"—a hard-to-obtain demographic for a network rooted in the kitchen.
#5 He actually said this.
When discussing the Japanese-BBQ fusion at his restaurant Tex Wasabi, he defended the lack of sushi authenticity with this nugget: “A lot of people who like sushi don’t really like raw fish or seaweed. So I make what they do like.”
#6 Fieri and Bourdain do NOT like each other.
Erudite ex-chef and current world traveler Guy Fieri—who’s had public feuds with several Food Network stars—has taken more than his share of shots at Fieri, who’s an easy target. There’s the hair. The sunglasses facing the wrong way. The flaming shirts. The catchphrases. The 500-seat Guy's American Kitchen and Bar in Times Square that serves dumbed-down comfort food to unsophistocated tourists. Fieri prefers the high road: “I don’t like him making fun of people, and I don’t like him talking shit. And he’s never talked shit to my face. I know he’s definitely gotta have issues, 'cos the average person doesn’t behave that way. It’s not that I’m not open to the reality that the food world was like this from a few people’s perspective. It’s just, What are you doing? What is your instigation? You have nothing else to fucking worry about than if I have bleached hair or not? I mean, fuck.”
#7 He’s been roughed up worse by the New York Times.
In what has been called the most widely read restaurant review of all time, Pete Wells in the New York Times lambasted Guy's American Kitchen and Bar. Rather than using descriptive prose, the Wells take-down posed fifty questions directed at Fieri, all rhetorical, all filled with snark. Here are a few examples:
• When you hung that sign by the entrance that says, WELCOME TO FLAVOR TOWN!, were you just messing with our heads?
• Somewhere within the yawning, three-level interior of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, is there a long refrigerated tunnel that servers have to pass through to make sure that the French fries, already limp and oil-sogged, are also served cold?
The sting was severe enough that Fieri himself appeared on The Today Show the next day to defend his restaurant.
#8 When Vacationing, Fieri Likes Isolation.
Fieri escapes from the limelight (and rough reviews) at his cabin in Northern California. It has no electricity or running water and is accessible only by boat. The destination is a favorite for writing and recipe development.
#9 Anti gay? No way.
Fieri has taken some heat among the LGBT community for an alleged comment about gay restaurateurs being featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. These concerns might be misguided: beyond denying the incident, Fieri’s sister (recently-deceased) was a lesbian. He added a tattoo in her honor and dedicated his next cookbook, Guy Fieri Food: Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It, to her. Last February, Fieri presided over the marriage ceremony for 101 same sex couples in Miami Beach. Food Network colleague Duff Goldman supplied a seven-tier wedding cake.
#10 About that Camaro on Triple-D. It’s those Camaros.
Early episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins and Divers featured a 1967 Chevy Camaro SS convertible, owned by the show’s former producer. Selecting it from several cars featured in the one-hour special that launched the series, Fieri drove the Camaro only between restaurants in the same town when filiming specific locations. For longer trips the car got hauled by trailer to reduce wear and tear. There’s a reason for choosing a convertible: its openness allows more room for camera equipment to film Fieri upon arrival. The replacement vehicle today is a fully restored 1968 Camaro ZZ502, outfitted with a 502 horse power engine. Fieri insists that fans are as eager to get their photos taken with the car as with him. The Camaro isn’t his, but Fieri does own several vintage cars, including a 1968 Pontiac Firebird convertible.