Guy Fieri says New York Times review had 'another agenda'

Posted By KATE STANTON,  |  Nov. 14, 2012 at 10:45 AM
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UPDATE: Surrounded by dishes from his restaurant, Guy's American Kitchen & Bar, Guy Fieri sat down with the Today Show's Savannah Guthrie one day after New York Times critic Pete Wells slammed his food in a sarcastic, brutal review.

"I just thought it was ridiculous," Fieri said of Wells' piece, and posited that Wells might have "sensationalized" his piece for selfish reasons.

To me, it's impossible to come in and have a dining experience and have every single thing is 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. It's a great way to make a name for yourself — go after a celebrity chef that's not a New Yorker that's doing big concept in his second month. Great way to hit it.

When Guthrie pressed the chef on the actual quality of his food, and Yelp reviews that give his restaurant an average of two-and-a-half out of five stars, Fieri conceded: "Is it perfect right now? No. Are we striving for it? Yeah."

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Every once in a while a critic goes above and beyond the call of duty, foregoing his or her customary detachment for more impassioned responses typically reserved for the general public -- See A.O. Scott's thoughts on "Good Luck Chuck" or Dan Kois' breathless take on "Babies."

No one expected rave reviews for Guy's American Kitchen & Bar, a new Times Square restaurant from Guy Fieri, the blond-tipped, ruddy-faced host of the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." But critic Pete Wells had such a terrible experience, he slammed Fieri in a gleefully contemptuous restaurant review for The New York Times, giving the restaurant no stars and a "Poor" rating.

Besides calling the atmosphere a "chaotic mess," and most of the food "inedible," Wells ends each sentence of his piece with a scathing, sarcastic question for Fieri, wondering if the celebrity chef had even been inside his own restaurant. Here's a sampling of his most exuberant takedowns:

Did panic grip your soul as you stared into the whirling hypno wheel of the menu, where adjectives and nouns spin in a crazy vortex?

Why is one of the few things on your menu that can be eaten without fear or regret — a lunch-only sandwich of chopped soy-glazed pork with coleslaw and cucumbers — called a Roasted Pork Bahn Mi, when it resembles that item about as much as you resemble Emily Dickinson?

Hey, did you try that blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste? The watermelon margarita? Any idea why it tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde?

Somewhere within the yawning, three-level interior of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, is there a long refrigerated tunnel that servers have to pass through to make sure that the French fries, already limp and oil-sogged, are also served cold?

Is the entire restaurant a very expensive piece of conceptual art? Is the shapeless, structureless baked alaska that droops and slumps and collapses while you eat it, or don’t eat it, supposed to be a representation in sugar and eggs of the experience of going insane?

But was Wells' review unnecessarily harsh, or even condescending? The Awl's Choire Sicha wonders if the Fieri roast is emblematic of a New York Times-ian brand of snobbery that turns up its nose at any "Garbage USA incursion into Manhattan." He points to a tweet by blogger Anil Dash:

[Read the full review at the New York Times]

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