The Guy Fieri Show at Caesars Palace in Atlantic City
Julia Moskin published an excellent piece in The New York Times this morning on the subject of a Guy Fieri show she'd witnessed in Atlantic City recently. As luck would have it, I attended the same show. Here are my personal impressions.
Recently, I had a chance to sneak into a Guy Fieri show at the Circus Maximus in Atlantic City's Caesars Palace. It confirmed all my opinions about the dude, and then some.
Fieri is one of the most popular figures on the Food Network. In fact, when onstage, he often refers to himself as a "rock star." On a network obsessed with creating its own bankable celebrities, Fieri is a notable success story. Born Guy Ramsay Ferry in 1968 of Irish and Italian ancestry, he grew up in Northern California and attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he majored in hospitality management. He launched a successful career as co-owner and manager of several restaurants with jokey names like Johnny Garlic's and Tex Wasabi's, the latter offering a surreal combination of sushi and Southern barbecue.
But his big break came in 2006 when he won the second season of The Next Food Network Star , in which he was already honing the cartoonish appearance that he cultivates today: a platinum spiky hairdo, wraparound shades, bowling shirts, and lots of punk jewelry, a look he calls "kulinary gangsta." In the four years since his victory, he's hosted a series of Food Network shows, the most famous of which is Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, an in-your-face celebration of the greasiest -- and most obvious -- vernacular dining establishments in a number of cities. He's also dutifully served as a utility player for the network, making guest appearances on its shows and crossing over to do a non-food game show on NBC, while rounding out his career with celebrity endorsements of T.G.I Friday's and Flowmaster, an auto-parts company.
The immense, arena-shaped Circus Maximus, which holds 1,500, was sold out for the Saturday afternoon performance. I waited with a paunchy crowd, mainly in their 60s. The show started a half-hour past the advertised time, and lasted a scant 55 minutes. The stage was set with gleaming chrome kitchen equipment, the Viking brand prominently displayed: a double-door fridge, microwave, conventional oven, induction stove-top (about which he jokingly bitched, "I've got to see a flame!"), and long countertop, on which an elaborate mis-en-place had already been arrayed.
Fieri not so much entered as flew onto the stage, a bantam bundle of energy, rapid-firing jokes and quips that left the audience alternately abashed and roaring with laughter. He wore an embroidered red chef's tunic that might have been made by Nudie's of Hollywood, and was followed by a cameraman, whose efforts were projected onto a Jumbotron above the stage. Fieri jollied up the audience by asking where they were from, recounted his career, and then delivered shtick about the fast-paced life of celebrity chefs and his love of cars, junk food, and designer clothing. He had a series of branded plastic squeeze sauce bottles that he periodically flung into the audience, shouting "Watch out!" and "Heads up!"