Guy Fieri is one of the Food Network’s most beloved stars, but the spiky-haired chef’s career has been riddled with scandals, lawsuits, and wild accusations about his behavior. Just how bad have things gotten for the Ohio-born foodie? Here’s a taste of the many times the host of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives has found his reputation on the chopping block.
He fought his hairdresser
In late 2013, Fieri got into a violent and expletive-filled fight with his hairdresser, Ariel Ramirez, which was caught on tape by TMZ. The bizarre video shows Fieri fending off Ramirez with his legs as Ramirez fires off one f-bomb after another at Fieri. The “nuclear” brawl escalated so quickly, Fieri “threw [Ramirez] out of the SUV,” the tab reported. Fieri’s manager was then forced to take Ramirez home by cab. According to the report, the combatants had just landed at San Francisco International Airport (and had been drinking on the flight.)
A source for TMZ said the brawl was akin to an episode of Seinfeld—a show about nothing—and was simply a case of “dudes being dudes.” A rep for Fieri said, “a bunch of guys were messing around. Things got a little out of hand, but they’re all good now.”
That, or maybe Fieri finally realized his hair needed a tune-up?
His Times Square restaurant is supposedly terrible
In 2012, Pete Wells, a food critic for The New York Times, made national headlines with his scathing takedown of Fieri’s restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, in New York City’s Times Square. The review was written as an open letter to Fieri, to whom Wells asked a number of brutal, if hilarious, questions: “How did nachos, one of the hardest dishes in the American canon to mess up, turn out so deeply unlovable?”
Wells’ review garnered so much attention that Fieri was forced to defend his restaurant’s reputation in an interview on the Today show. “I thought it was ridiculous, that to me was so overboard,” Fieri said. “We’re trying as hard as we can to make it right… Is it perfect right now? No. Are we striving for it? Yeah.” The food critic “came in with a different agenda,” he said.
His restaurant was infested with flies
Perhaps the food critic was onto something because in 2016, Radar Online uncovered a report by the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, which found that Fieri’s Times Square hot spot was infested with various types of flies. “Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas,” the report said, according to Radar. “Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.”
Radar said the restaurant, which received a “B” rating from the inspection, had previously come under fire for having “live roaches” on the ground. Employees were also criticized for having “inadequate” personal cleanliness and for failing to use “proper utensils [to] eliminate bare hand contact with food.” In other words: ewwww.
He shrugged off an endorsement deal
Remember in 2008 and 2009 when Fieri starred in commercials for the restaurant chain T.G.I. Friday’s, raving about its Ultimate Recipe Showdown-inspired menu? Well, as it turns out, Fieri wasn’t exactly the restaurant’s most frequent customer. In fact, when cornered by those pesky TMZ cameras, he basically admitted that filming those ads was just business.
“I’m a Food Network chef, man!” Fieri told TMZ. “I just do commercials for Friday’s. You know how it works!” To his credit, Fieri didn’t exactly bash the restaurant. “It’s a good gig, man,” he said.
We think he could have at least admitted that Friday’s chicken fingers are great because they totally are.
He was sued by a business partner
Fieri found himself embroiled in a legal dispute with longtime business partner Steve Gruber over Fieri’s request to close the restaurant chain Johnny Garlic’s, which he and Gruber founded in the mid-’90s. According to The Press Democrat, Fieri filed paperwork to dissolve the restaurant chain in December 2015, but Gruber had another idea. He tried to buy out Fieri’s stake in the company. (Gruber and Fieri each own half of the issued shares and voting power in the company.) When the partners could not agree on a price for Fieri’s stock, Gruber filed a lawsuit asking a court to help figure it out for them. Gruber appears to be pretty calm about the whole thing. He even offered to pay Fieri’s legal expenses, according to Courthouse News Service.
Fieri wants nothing to do with the restaurant chain. “After more than 20 successful years as a partner in Johnny Garlic’s Inc., Guy Fieri has chosen to separate from the company and its restaurants for creative and operational considerations,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Guy wishes the entire Johnny Garlic’s Inc., team the best.”
His neighbors hate him
In a 2015 GQ profile, Fieri discussed plans to create a wine-tasting room to accompany the winery he’d opened on his property. The only hitch? The 100-plus neighbors who came out to protest his plans at a public hearing in Sonoma County, Calif. Chief among their complaints? Guy doesn’t just wear loud shirts—he is loud. Here’s a smattering of the statements Fieri’s neighbors entered into the public record:
“The applicant has thought of everything except a place for his noise.”
“A race car was fired up next door by the applicant’s staff with no warning. The noise very nearly seriously injured one of my show horses. This has happened a couple of times.”
“My family lived across the street from the applicant’s residence. Guests would be loud, leave trash, and trample landscaping. All we could do was sell and move.”
According to GQ, Fieri’s tasting-room proposal was rejected.
He was accused of being anti-semitic and homophobic
During a wild legal dispute between former Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives producer David Page and the Food Network, Page accused Fieri of being crude, homophobic and anti-semitic in an infamous interview with City Pages. “You have to protect Guy from all of his poop jokes,” Page claimed in one of many jaw-dropping accusations. “Anytime any woman mentioned ‘cream,’ Guy went into a sexual riff. When cutting the show, you had to tell the editors to watch Guy’s eye line, because it’s always on breasts.”
Page also discussed an alleged incident from the early days of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in which Fieri expressed discomfort over two restaurant owners potentially being gay. “Guy had decided that the two men running the restaurant were life partners,” Page said. “He said [to me], ‘You can’t send me to talk to gay people without warning! Those people weird me out!'”
In discussions about costs and compensation associated with the bestselling Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives books, Page claims Fiori dissed some of the folks involved in the project using anti-semitic remarks. “Guy said to me: ‘You know, it’s true: Jews are cheap.'”
A spokesperson for Fieri shot down Page’s claims, saying, “Guy’s reputation speaks for itself.” Sources for Eater also sided with Fieri, calling the entire report a whole bunch of hooey.
He doesn’t sound like a fun boss
In an attempt to chase down some of the allegations made in the aforementioned City Pages piece, the food blog, Chowhound, allegedly made contact with a production staffer, who asked to be called “Jane” and who claimed that her work on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives was so miserable that she “exited television production altogether.”
“Fieri had ridiculous requests at all hours of the day. He knew most of us lived in Central Time, but he would regularly make requests after 11 p.m.,” Jane said, adding, “He would have shoots rescheduled around getting his hair done. He refused to fly on certain airlines. I don’t think anyone actually liked him.”
Granted, these are claims made from an anonymous source, who admittedly has an ax to grind with Fieri. However, even if these alleged working conditions are bogus, it’s certainly not a good look for Fieri to have to defend against them.
A hedge fund billionaire paid to be his friend
We’re not sure who this looks worse for: Fieri or the rich guy who quasi-Indecent-Proposal’d him. In 2013 it was reported that hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen once paid the bleach-blond pinky ring enthusiast $100,000 to hang out with him for a day. According to Allen Salkin’s book, From Scratch: Inside the Food Network (via Page Six), Cohen paid Fieri to drive around Connecticut with him to reenact a fantasy episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, which they allegedly did at a Super Duper Weenie, Cohen’s “favorite hot dog spot.”
Cohen’s rep denied the story, because who would ever want anyone to know about that? Although, he did admit that Cohen and Fieri knew each other.
Keep in mind that Fieri is a guy who once did a roadshow he described as “the first ever rock n’ roll culinary tour,” for which he charged up to $253 for tickets, and according to Eat Me Daily’s review of the show, for that price you basically got to sit on stage and get drunk while Fieri and some friends did a couple of weak cooking demonstrations and blasted insanely loud DJ music from a crappy sound system. So, what we’re saying here is that we’re willing to bet Fieri wouldn’t turn down that 100K if it was truly offered to him.
He was a frat guy with a mullet
There may not be anything shady about being in a fraternity or sporting a sick mullet, but when the person who once did both of those things eventually turns into a celebrity chef, it needs to be made public. Thankfully, the geniuses at Total Frat Move had the idea to dig up Fieri’s “composite photo” from his days at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as an Alpha Tau Omega brother. It does not disappoint.
— ian servantes (@ian_servantes) February 4, 2016
Again, we have to reiterate that maybe there’s really nothing particularly “shady” about this, but ask yourself this question: Do you want this guy handling your food?
Has his feud with Anthony Bourdain crossed the line?
Over the years, fellow celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has been less than kind to Fieri—and that’s putting it mildly. In a July 2015 interview with Atlanta Magazine, Bourdain openly wondered whether Fieri would be able to “de-douche” for the sake of his newborn child. In June 2016, Bourdain told Adweek, “I find Guy Fieri a rich and deep vein of comedy, there’s no doubt about it, and he’s worthy of a solid and maybe relentless mocking as anyone who has made his sartorial choices deserves.”
Fieri has mildly defended himself against Bourdain’s continual attacks, like in a November 2015 GQ interview when he said, “I don’t like him making fun of people, and I don’t like him talking s**t. And he’s never talked s**t to my face. I know he’s definitely gotta have issues, ‘cos the average person doesn’t behave that way.”
But perhaps there’s a darker reason behind Bourdain’s contempt of Fieri. After all, it was Fieri who really took the gloves off during a 2012 roast of Bourdain in which he lobbed the following bomb: “Anthony, I gotta ask a question, why do you hate me so much brother? … Is it because you went to a fancy culinary school and I didn’t? I hear you’re the only one in class who did most of his cooking with a spoon and a Bic lighter.” It was a clear reference to Bourdain’s past drug use. Bourdain has been open about his addiction, but perhaps he wasn’t too keen on having it turned into a joke by the Mayor of Flavortown.
Either way, both of these guys might do well to hit the pause button on the personal jabs, lest they both come away looking like creeps.
In some ways, Fieri is actually a really good…Guy
After the devastation of the Santa Rosa wildfires, which caused 34 deaths and the destruction of more than 3,000 buildings, Fieri rolled up the sleeves of his bedazzled chef’s jacket and went to work. Fieri lives in Sonoma County, Calif. which felt the brunt of the disaster, so this situation hit particularly close to home. He partnered with the Salvation Army and mobilized a crew to start feeding neighbors displaced by the flames. Having had to evacuate his own home, which was spared, Fieri told KQED, “This isn’t a PR stunt. You don’t see my banners up. I’m not promoting anything. I’m just here cooking. This is feeding people. People need help, and I’m here to help. That’s it.”
Fieri’s response to the wildfires isn’t the first time he’s dabbled in philanthropy. In fact, the Guy’s Grocery Games host has such a charitable history, comedian Shane Torres even incorporated it into his act. (Heads up: the clip in that link includes some NSFW language.) “[Fieri] started a company where he hires everybody,” Torres says. “He pays more than minimum wage. He gives health benefits. He has a non-profit where he gives pretzel-making machines to inner city schools so they fundraise…he has worked with Special Olympics athletes, and on top of all of that, he officiated a gay wedding.”
Even if only some of those claims check out, surely that gives Fieri a pass on his decision to still rock bleach blonde spikes and bowling shirts 15 years too late, right?