Guy Fieri Realized His Food Career Thanks to a ‘Terrible Cook’

In the crowd of Food Network celebrities, Guy Fieri certainly knows how to stand out.

His boisterous style and trademark spikes have made him a regular fixture on the network for over a decade, and this non-conventional Guy took a pretty non-conventional path to get where he is today. He has ownership in over 60 restaurants, is involved in several Food Network shows, and does extensive philanthropic work.  Ironically, Fieri credits his start on the path to a life devoted to food to one terrible cook that he had the fortune (or misfortune) of encountering in his youth.

Guy Fieri: The celebrity non-chef

Though Fieri is often lumped in as a “celebrity chef” with other Food Network personalities, he’s actually not a chef. His formal training was in Hospitality Management at UNLV, according to IMDb. From there he grinded his way up through restaurant work until he found success as a restaurateur in the late 90s. As a businessman, he had a knack for forming partnerships and getting noticed, which would eventually lead to his relationship with The Food Network and the many shows that he’s hosted or featured on.

His loud fashion and louder personality were a perfect fit for The Food Network’s hopes of gaining new audiences when he arrived on the scene in 2007’s Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Some fans of the network were immediately resistant to Fieri’s style and thought he was obnoxious, but his shows performed well with the male audiences that the network had struggled with for years. In time, he’d become a regular fixture of the network so much that fans wondered how there was a Food Network before Guy.

Flavortown

Though he may not be a chef, Fieri certainly knows his was around Flavortown. His trademark slogan became so iconic that it represented marketability that hadn’t previously existed for The Food Network. Fieri was a new kind of star for them that helped transition them into more engaging programming from what had traditionally been a schedule full of simple cooking instruction.

Fieri doesn’t need a culinary degree to have a command of flavor. Many ambitious people throughout the restaurant industry learn more about food on the job than you could ever teach in a classroom. Particularly for someone like Fieri, who cultivated a resume of diverse restaurants and advanced through every aspect of the food industry, experience plays an important role. Fieri has always happily taken the role of a food lover rather than a strict critic like other food network personalities, showing his true love of and passion for flavor throughout the years.

How Fieri decided to make his life about food

Guy Fieri
Guy Fieri | Steve Jennings/Getty Images

While in high school, Fieri saved up money for a study abroad in France. Though France is usually where people go to experience the height of modern cuisine, Fieri’s experience was a little different. According to Delish, he was staying at a boarding house run by a woman who was a terrible cook. His parents had always been pretty good cooks, and Fieri realized how lucky he was right then.

“I wrote home to my parents, saying ‘I had steak and potatoes yesterday, and it was like I’d never had them in my life,” he said of the experience. “My parents were really good cooks, and we ate really well, but I’d never had anything like the food there. I knew exactly then what I wanted to do.”

From there, he went straight to taking whatever jobs he could find in restaurants during college and paired that with his degree to forge a small empire of restaurants and a much larger empire of personality through TV. Fans should be thankful for that one terrible cook. If not for her, we might all have had to do without the mayor of Flavortown.

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