After finding fame winning the second season of The Next Food Network Star, Guy Fieri (pronounced “fee-eddy”) launched into the stratosphere of celebrity chefs with his hit show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
During his time on the show, he was known for coining phrases like “flavortown” and “donkey sauce,” and for delighting audiences with his general larger-than-life aesthetic. Less publicly, Guy paid his employees fair wages, offered all employees benefits, and contributed to multiple philanthropic endeavors.
He made a point to be an all-around good Guy. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Despite (or possibly because of) his successes, he became a sort of “meme,” with critics mocking his flair and wardrobe choices. In 2012, the New York Times review of his Times Square restaurant was called the most devastating piece of food criticism of all time. Guy Fieri’s name became a punchline.
Many would have pivoted or fought back against these intense and often hyperbolic criticisms. But Guy didn’t. He kept working, supporting local restaurants, and leaning into his larger-than-life personality. Eventually, something happened. Fieri not only survived the onslaught, he flourished.
Last year he raised over $25 million for hospitality workers affected by the national lockdown. As his esteem has continued to grow, so has his success. He’s now the highest paid celebrity chef on television.
Throughout his career, Fieri’s always followed his own North Star. He focuses on empowering small businesses, supporting the restaurant industry, and leveraging his unique personality and style to celebrate the kind of “elevated low-brow” dishes he likes to eat himself.
Fieri never let his haters get to him. He learned to tune out superficial criticisms and instead he focused his energy on honoring his deceased sister by officiating 101 same sex weddings, feeding California residents fleeing wildfires, and running his 17 popular restaurants—the sort of humble, virtuous, and courageous energy that got him where he is.
Ultimately, Guy was willing to listen, but knew how to differentiate between actionable suggestions and mean-spirited criticisms. And most importantly? He ignored the haters and never once let negativity stop him from visiting Flavortown.