One day after getting savaged by New York Times restaurant reviewer Pete Wells, Flavor Town mayor Guy Fieri went on the offense, taking over the Today show to his defend his cooking. Today did two full segments about the harsh review, including a live interview with Fieri from the restaurant in question, allowing him the chance to respond to lines like, "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?"
Fieri stood up for Guy's American Kitchen and Bar, saying it wasn't fair to judge such a huge restaurant that has only been open two months and that he's working to make it better. He also suggested that Wells had a hidden agenda with his attack, perhaps trying to make a name for himself by taking down a big celebrity chef.
We doubt that the dude holding the most influential reviewing job in America thinks he needs to build his brand with a flame war, but it is true that Fieri is way more famous than Pete Wells, and unlikely to be hurt by a slam in the Times. Star Jones, sitting next to Fieri on the Today show, said a full-assault review like this one is more fit for a stuffy, expensive upper class restaurant—think Per Se or Le Bernardin—as if a guy with eight restaurants, two TV shows, and $8 million in annual earnings was not a big enough target.
Thanks to Today though—and the free catering he provided to the entire staff this morning (did someone say payola?)—America is clearly on his side, and Fieri's decision to show his face and stand up to the bully this morning was a huge marketing coup. Professional Today guest (and former advertising executive) Donny Deutsch also weighed in, saying it was the best thing that ever happened to Guy. When your entire business is built around bringing "real food" to "real Americans," you can't ask for a better advertisement than a downward sneer from the bible of East Coast Liberal Elites.
If you need an even better advertisement than that, The New York Times itself reportedly held a party for 160 people last night ... at Guy's American Kitchen and Bar.