TV food personality Guy Fieri fired back at a New York Times restaurant critic who savaged his Times Square eatery in a review that was one of the most brutal ever published in the venerable newspaper.
Appearing Thursday morning on “The Today Show” on NBC, Fieri accused the critic — Pete Wells — of harboring “an agenda” that led the critic to abuse Fieri’s restaurant — Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, a cavernous place on West 44th Street in Manhattan that caters mainly to tourists.
In the review — which you can read here — Wells listed a series of questions aimed at Fieri that took the Food Network star personally to task for the shortcomings of his restaurant.
“Hey, did you try that blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste? The watermelon margarita?” read one typical series of questions. “Any idea why it tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde?”
On “The Today Show” on Thursday, Fieri responded. “I just thought it was ridiculous,” Fieri said, according to this account on the Hollywood Reporter Web site. “I mean, I’ve read reviews — there’s good and there’s bad in the restaurant business. But that to me went so overboard, it really seemed like there was an agenda.”
Fieri went on to offer his view that the critic’s “agenda” was to draw attention to himself by writing a scathing review that would likely be widely discussed (which turned out to be the case). “To me it’s impossible to have a dining experience and have every single thing wrong — unless you come in with a different agenda and you want to sensationalize something and you want to blow it out of the water,” Fieri said on “Today.” “It’s a great way to make a name for yourself — go after a celebrity chef that’s not a New Yorker.”
“I stand by my food. I stand by my team, and we’ll continue to do great,” said Fieri, who’s best known as the exuberant host of the Food Network series “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” in which he travels the country sampling regional foods.
Our take: We’ve been in the journalism business long enough to have heard this “agenda” accusation before from story subjects who don’t like what’s written about them. They level this accusation to draw attention away from themselves. In this case, Guy seems to be blaming the messenger — this restaurant critic — for reporting the “news” that Guy’s restaurant isn’t all that it should be. Our advice to Guy: Get off your high horse and go and fix the place.