November 15, 2012 • ariel
The Fieri Files: In Defense.
Hey Pete Wells, did you plan on hating Guy Fieri’s new Times Square restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar, before you walked in the door?
The disdain the New York Times critic has for the restaurant is palpable from the very first line of Wednesday’s scathing review and it continues through to the very end.
If I were a therapist — and I ran this by my therapist and she agreed—I would diagnose Wells with a serious case of misplaced anger. In this instance, Wells might be blaming Fieri for the lackluster cuisine and sloppy service, but it’s the world of food personalities he’s truly after, the world that has turned food into a show, into a game, into a theme, into “winner winner, chicken dinner” and “yum-o” and far away from the food Wells most probably first fell in love with.
He’s trying to condemn the neo-foodie, the people who create their own “Iron Chef” competitions, the people who consider “Pepperoni Mozzarella Stix” fine dining. Judging from his review, Wells may believe that the whole Food Network is cheapening the fine dining experience with ridiculously alliterated phrases, and more importantly, with crappy food.
And while the food at Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar may not be worthy of his praise (or refined palate), it certainly did not deserve the literal nuclear obliteration it received.
I think we need to get a few things straight.
Firstly, Fieri is not in the kitchen of this restaurant, nor, I imagine, did he pick out the décor, hire the staff or choose the playlist. The theme of the restaurant was designed, most likely, by the people that created his television personality—PR brains, consultants, etc. So to attack Fieri for trying to make a buck off tourists doesn’t seem fair to me. If you’re flipping out over the décor at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, then you haven’t taken a look around M&M World, ESPN Zone, Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, Planet Hollywood or any other Times Square establishment.
Gaele Greene visited the same restaurant not too long ago and while she felt the same irony at the door, she was able to offer her readers a review without ranting herself into oblivion. Despite the jokes about the décor and menu, “Is this how America will spell…can anyone read?” and even some food coming out cold, she did say the chili was “delicious.”
And from the tone of Wells’ article, I’m assuming that even if one iota of the meal were good, he wouldn’t have told us.
The beauty of New York is that it has room for all types of restaurants, from the ridiculous to the elegant. There are mom-and-pop shops, there are dives and tiny bistros and even fast food restaurants. Finally, there are and will continue to be Food Network personality driven restaurants and despite your opinion, we —and Pete Wells— need to get used to it.
And Mr. Wells, if you can’t, my therapist can offer you a prescription or two.
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