Guy Fieri strikes back at critic who flamed his restaurant
November 15th, 2012
04:30 PM ET
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Over the past two days, the now-infamous New York Times review of Guy Fieri's new 500 seat Times Square restaurant Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar caught fire across the Twittersphere, blogs, morning shows and even David Letterman's Top 10, but the boisterous, spike-coiffed chef remained uncharacteristically silent, until now.

Fieri said in a statement released by his PR reps:

“I wholeheartedly disagree with The New York Times’ Review of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar. My philosophy on life is what drives my attitude towards food. As a kid, I used to make four-course sushi meals for my parents and our family friends. I got hooked on food because I saw the way people reacted; the atmosphere around a family dinner, dining out with friends and family – it was contagious."

“At my restaurants, we always try to live by a very simple notion: that food brings people together. I’ve learned that not everyone agrees with my style. The Times’ critic, Pete Wells, clearly did not enjoy his experience. I normally do not respond to reviews or critics, however, given the tone of Pete’s piece, it’s clear to me that he went into my restaurant with his mind already made up. That’s unfortunate. I take comments from patrons, fans and visitors very seriously, and if there is ever a problem with our service, I’ll fix it."

“We’ve only been open a short while, but I’ve seen countless people come to my restaurant – families, fans, tourists, and yes, even New Yorkers – looking to get away for an hour or two, and they’ve had a great experience and a meal that they enjoyed. Like the hundreds of diners, drive-ins and dives I’ve featured on my show, I’ve incorporated my passion and love for food into my restaurants. I’m proud of the food we put out, and always will be.”

Yesterday, we asked our readers, "Does a bad restaurant review in a high-profile publication sway your opinion?" Over 10,500 people weighed in. By the numbers:

– No, I'll go if I want to 39.68%
– Yes, I appreciate the warning 28.4%
– I might actually want to go to see if it is actually that bad 15.71%
– It might cause me to evaluate other options 14.86%
– Other 1.35%

And commenters served up a hefty portion of opinion.

I'll take a double shot of nope, please

A bad review from a professional restaurant critic is generally a good sign that it's not that bad. Food critics tend to be and like all flash and no substance. If not, then why should one shrimp on a bed of endive cost $100. - Steve Giles

Like I care what some elitist foodie thinks. I'd give much more weight to a review by joe six pack. - Edwin

The snobbish, elitists food critic is a relic of days gone by. A long forgotten dinosaur with no fossil to be found. They were needed when the “Internet’s” didn’t exist and people waited with fevered anticipation for the newspaper to arrive. - bazingaD

I decide whether I like a restaurant or not based on my taste, not the taste of a food critic or a master chef. There are plenty of food items that I don't like that may other people do. Would I still try Guy's restaurant after the review? Sure. Would I return just because it IS Guy's restaurant even if I did not like it? No. The same would be true for a multiple Michelin star restaurant. I know that based on public persona I would really like to kick back and have a beer with Michael Symon, Guy Fieri and Alton Brown... Pete Wells? Not so much... who wants to hang out with someone who criticizes everybody... :-) Note: I do not know any of the players in real life, so it may well be that Symon, Fieri and Brown are all elitist and Wells is a grounded nice guy... but since the chance of me actually getting to know any of them is slight I guess it doesn't matter any more than the review does. - naturalistdiverted

Please sir, may I have some more?

And well, if Wells had that bad of an experience, then the restaurant should do an assessment and make damn sure no one has an experience like that again. - Mildred

I suggest a good critic is able to appreciate those subtle differences, but what makes them good isn't being able to do so per se but rather the ability to then communicate what those differences are and why they matter. Or, to put it another way, to educate the readers and help them/us become more knowledgeable and discerning ourselves. - John

I only let the professional food critics affect my choice of restaurants when I'm going for something really special and expect to spend a significant amount of time and money on the experience. Otherwise, at a place like Guy's? Not at all. - Tesarra

Maybe, if I still have room

I'm all for taking professional reviews with a grain of salt, whether they be for movies, food, or some other service... but who are these people who comprise the majority (!) of poll respondents above that happily spend their hard-earned money on food described, in detail, as disgusting, limp, ghostly, inept, and gross? I've gladly eaten at restaurants or seen movies I was interested in despite a lukewarm review, but my cash is too scarce to risk for the sake of "sticking it to" an "elitist" journalist. I appreciate the warning. - MichaelJ

I thought the review was hysterical and I agree with his point: It's not that the concept is low brow, it's that the food wasn't any good. I love a good Mac & Cheese or plate of nachos as much as anyone but if they're bad, they're bad! As for your poll, I would never go to a Guy Fieri restaurant anyway, so while funny, the review didn't change my opinion. - Mark Rabinowitz

Depends on who the critic is, honestly. I don't agree with all critics, and even specific criticisms of those I like, especially when you base it on an overall collection of reviews. Dining, ordering, and eating are incredibly subjective processes and an "experience eater" has a unique palate tuned to certain levels of salt, acid, spice, etc. of their own preference. But, when it comes to the finer points, I'm usually (internally) haggling over a star or so. - Michelle

I'll just stand on line

I use Yelp and Trip Advisor's reviews more than professional reviews - winterfling

I'm WAYYYYYY more persuaded by actual consumer reviews like people on Yelp than I am with professional food critics. Food critics aren't looking for the same things that regular people who actually love to eat are looking for. - Adrian

Before going to a place I've never been before, I will browse online reviews from regular people. I trust their opinion and tastes more than a professional food critic. Same with movies – critics will often slam and hate movies that the general public really enjoys.

I'll read the comments by the people that ate there and see if opinions are largely positive or negative, and also the reasoning behind it. Unless it's overwhelmingly negative by the vast majority of people, I won't steer away from the restaurant.

From my own past experience, I've eaten at places where a lot of online reviews sucked, but the place actually turned out to be very good.

You just can't trust the internet. - Mark

Previously - Written in the stars: the art of the bad review
and Everyone's a critic, some just call it their day job and Are professional restaurant critics necessary?

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Filed under: Celebrity Chefs • Critics • Guy Fieri • Restaurant News

soundoff (591 Responses)
  1. vans cab lite syndicate

    I really like it whenever people come together and share ideas.
    Great site, keep it up!

    July 12, 2014 at 1:28 am |
  2. suj

    Excuse me. How can anyone seriously serve 500 people and expect any of them to have a common yet unique gastronomic experience? This isn't a 500 seat movie theater. Personally I'd avoid any place this size despite whoever the owner is because this is a glorified cafeteria. Another New York City Dinner and Dive.

    July 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm |
  3. air jordan 10 powder blue

    I drop a leave a response each time I especially enjoy a post on a website or I have something to contribute to the
    discussion. It's triggered by the passion displayed in the article
    I browsed. And after this post Eatocracy.
    I was excited enough to write a comment ;-) I do have a couple of questions
    for you if it's okay. Could it be just me or do a few of the remarks come across like they are left by brain dead folks?

    :-P And, if you are posting at additional sites, I would like to keep up with you.
    Could you list the complete urls of your social sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page
    or twitter feed?

    July 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm |
  4. GFIAD

    Guy Fieri is stupid for crying over one critic. He needs to learn not everyone is going to like the same thing. Instead of being a big baby about it, he needs to strap on the sunglasses the right way and deal with it.

    Guy Fieri is a douche

    February 26, 2014 at 7:50 pm |
  5. Nick

    If you really pay attention to what good critics say, you're a douchebag. How do you get paid to eat? Is that a job you can train for? Negative. You become a food critic when you've exhausted all of your other options and if you have a job it's an accident. Judges?

    December 31, 2013 at 12:20 am |
  6. Jonah35

    Tool. In addition to being an annoying hack, I've heard he doesn't exactly stay within the confines of his marriage, if you catch my drift.

    November 22, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • RC

      Sources? Or just conjecture on your part?

      November 22, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  7. peabody3000

    i dont believe all restaurant reviews but i believe this one completely. the author really made solid points about exactly what he was commenting on, and exactly why. in the past he has reviewed other places with equally humble cuisine and shown a propensity to be a fair judge that evaluates based on the standards and expectations that the venue itself sets. he made specific points about why the service and the food were so lacking, all pointing to a blatant and systemic disregard by the owners for the satisfaction of their patrons. if fieri sticks up for his restaurant, there is no need for surprise about that. he can eat another deep-fried snickers bar and relax

    December 13, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  8. Ryan

    Dear cnn,

    When using a really long quote over multiple paragraphs, it is unnecessary to use another " at the beginning of each paragraph. It is only necessary to have an end-quote at the end of each paragraph.

    Thank you, that will be all.

    December 12, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Dear Ryan,

      Not according to our styleguide.


      December 12, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  9. Jim Weix

    LOL...if a food critic says it's bad, I make it a point to go. Most critics are freelance journalistic hacks just getting a pay/review until they can get a real job. My 18 year old son used to be a "movie critic" for a newspaper when he was in college.

    November 25, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
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    November 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  11. john clarke

    The NYT has a very reliable and helpful staff of food critics. I think the crtique was very funny and due to the detailed descriptions, probably very accurate. Also, a real chef doesn't open a restaurant in Times Square. He is targeting the meandering overweight herds from the Midwest. No New Yorker or European would set foot in such a place with all of the amazing options NYC has to offer. Times Square specializes in stadium food, or themepark fried crap. What do you expect?

    November 21, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Jim Weix

      That's what I like about some of you fine folks from New York. You are so polite and you actually are foolish enough to think that you have "class". Too funny.

      November 25, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
      • peabody3000

        nobody would make that mistake about you!

        December 13, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • sam

      amazing, john clarke. too bad the herds from midwest will never appreciate the truth in your comment.

      December 14, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  12. beckyfisher

    Paid critics – food, movies or otherwise can't find their butts in a paper bag. Invariably, if a critic pans something I know it's probably something I will actually enjoy because they are all so high-brow, phony and full of themselves. When someone so steeped in self-importance pans something I take it as a POSITIVE and have hardly ever had an experience I didn't enjoy. It's funny that this one came back four times before he submitted his diatribe. As for Guys review, I would certainly try his places. All things being equal, I may like it. Or I may not. That's why they call it OPINION. Besides, it's the NYT. Try to write for something relevant.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  13. Joe D

    Everyone is jealous of Guy's success. It is so obvious! I went there and thought it was great, and fries were hot and drinks tasted great. I think Guy is right about the critic having an agenda. The critic is more famous now for sure.
    We love Guy and will recommend this place compared to some of the fast food crud in X Square.

    November 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  14. victor

    So we have gotten to the point in this country in which the general population is...for some inexplicable confident in their own uninformed conclusions that they won't listen to people who actually have some training, talent, background, knowledge and will simply shout them down by saying "elitist", "snob" etc., versus questioning why they think a plate of grease is actually good food...or, for that matter, why dogs playing poker is not high art. H.L. Menken said many years ago "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public." If he could only see what we have become...pretty sad.

    November 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  15. yosemite sam

    I have never been to one of his restaurants, but occasionally my husband forces me to sit through a few episodes of his show... One thing that strikes me as odd, out of all the shows I've watched, I've never heard him say he DIDNT like something...

    November 19, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • peabody3000

      haha! point well taken

      December 13, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Jay

      The reason why you never see him not like something is because when he gets to the restaurant he tries almost everything on the menu beforehand. I went to one of the diners he showed on TV and the host told me everything. She told me how he tries a little bit of everything from the menu and then picks what he wants to show. She told me that he always want to at least show one of the dishes that the restaurant is famous for. But he has already tried the dish off camera. It kinda takes away from the show. Its almost feels like pro wrestling.

      January 25, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
  16. Nellstar

    How embarrassing- the joke of a persona/image he has created is cringe inducing, who in the world is he trying to appeal to? ughughugh

    Of course he'd choose Times Square. No one in their right mind would pay ridic prices for the slop he passes off as food except tourists and die-hard Guy fans!

    November 19, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  17. pizzapete

    NYC is one of the greatest food cities in the world–that being said, anybody who visits a restaurant in Times Square gets pretty much what they deserve! Everyone knows it's a tourist trap completely devoid of any culture or food and only surrounded by the real City.
    Beyond visiting an over-priced, completely un-authentic restaurant in the tourist trap, this particluar restaurant is owned by a guy with bleached hair, armbands and who wears sunglasses backwards-who became popular by winning a "game show" on Food network!
    Since when does the NY Times review a restaurant with a sign at the front door that say's "welcome to flavor town"?
    Like I said, anybody who visits a place like this should NOT be surprised when they get just what they asked for!

    November 19, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  18. What Exit?

    Why waste money on a $13 PB&J? I'm happy with my New York pretzel and Hotdog stand.

    November 19, 2012 at 1:28 am |
  19. Steve

    I'm gonna call BS on Guy Fieri. He is the guy that opened up a Olive Garden quality restaurant while claiming to care about food.
    I would normally say that the critic was expecting real restaurant style food from a phoney chain restaurant... But I think Guy Fieri set himself up for it. You can't play a chef on tv and then put your name on a Cheesecake Factory and pretend its good.

    November 18, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  20. Wolfgang Puck

    Critics are just wannabe chefs without the talent.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:57 am |
    • MandMGuy

      Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't do or teach, become critics.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:52 am |
      • The MusicDoc

        I CAN do, and I teach.......I'm betting you couldn't teach!

        November 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
        • TheTrth

          ^^^missed the point

          November 19, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
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