TODAY   |  November 15, 2012

Guy Fieri suspects ‘another agenda’ behind review

Food Network star and restaurateur Guy Fieri speaks with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie, defending his restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar, after a harsh review by The New York Times, suggesting the critic “came in with another agenda” to “make a name” for himself.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> well, we're talking about that scathing review of guy fieri 's new restaurant . some people are asking, was it too harsh? we'll ask guy about that in a moment. but first, katie with the rest of the story. good morning.

>> reporter: -- in this case a grown man -- guy fieri , food network star.

>> you were expecting a flavor reference, i know you were.

>> reporter: tenth highest paid chef in america, popular enough for an snl spoof.

>> i for one go bizerki for turkey.

>> reporter: and a seriously bruised restaurant owner. did you try that blue drink the critic pete wells asks. the one that glows like nuclear waste ? the watermelon margarita. the entire restaurant review is questions. 34 of them, each scathing. why did the toasted marshmallow taste like fish? when we hear the words donkey sauce, which part of the donkey are we supposed to think about? but it's not just the food, wells doesn't spare fieri either. when you cruise around the country for your show to the unfancy places where americans like to get down and greasy, do you really mean it? or is it all an act?

>> mmm, that's good.

>> reporter: the review of guy's american kitchen and bar in time square is being called the worst restaurant review in the paper's history.

>> i think in this scenario, pete used his skill as a word smith to create a more harsh environment in which to describe the restaurant and to create this kind of aura of negativity around the experience that he had at guy fieri 's restaurant .

>> reporter: supporters by the dozens didn't care for the negativity taking to the facebook page telling the chef to ignore all those critics in new york .

>> it's just another pompous new yorker, i don't know. i don't know. i didn't agree with it.

>> reporter: for what it's worth, that last guy said he really loved the awesome pretzel chicken tenders . the times is defending the review saying he was here four times and each time he wasn't able to celebrate good american food . the only non-question in the review was at the very end, one word, a sarcastic thanks.

>> thank you to you. and guy fieri is here with us now exclusively. you flew here all night on the red eye to be here. what was your reaction when you read this review? it must have felt like a punch in the gut.

>> i -- punch in the gut. i just thought it was ridiculous. i mean, i read reviews. you know, there's good and bad in the restaurant business, but that to me went so overboard it really seemed like there was another agenda.

>> you have a problem with not what it said but with its tone?

>> the tone, the sarcasm, the question style. i mean, i think we all know what's going on here. he came in with a different agenda. four times to a restaurant that's been open two months, that's tough times . especially this size of a restaurant .

>> this reviewer says he came not just once or twice, but four different times , obviously found the cuisine to be lacking. is there anything in this review that you think strikes a chord where you acknowledge it wasn't up to my own standard?

>> without question, i've been in the restaurant business for 25 years. this is an ever changing, ever evolving process. you get new guys in, some guys out, different timings that go on. and do we do it perfect? no? are we striving to do it perfect? yes, but that's what we're all doing in the business.

>> one thing you've mentioned to me, why it is the "new york times " chose to review a restaurant like this. if you go on yelp, which is a place where regular folks go on and review restaurants, you get an average of 2 1/2 stars out of 5, 56 reviews, so it's kind of not necessarily knocking people's socks off.

>> and at this point in time at two months, not really expecting to. we're trying to. we're trying as hard as we can to make it right, to do it right, we've got a pretty big menu. you look at the food we're doing here, the cedar plank salmon or the burger, we're doing this, forming it by hand. we make the mashed potatoes for ever service. this is what's taking place. is it perfect right now? no. are we striving for it? yeah. i think those will change. it's two months now, let's see where we are at six months.

>> there are a lot of kitchens around the country where the famous chef comes in, lends his name but is sort of hands off and isn't involved. is this your baby? did you design this menu?

>> not only did we design the restaurant , we spent a year and a half doing this. wrote the menu, brought my culinary team in to work with this team here that's on premise all the time. i did the training for the front of the house, i did the training for the back of the house. i was here pain staking hours. but this is what you do, what you love. people see me as a tv guy, i'm a chef, i'm into restaurants, i have 11 of them, 7 in california. to me, and again, that's what this is. this is more heart and soul. this is not just a name stamp.

>> one thing that the reviewer said when asked by the "new york times " public editor saying he didn't expect a fine dining experience. didn't think this was going to be gourmet cuisine. but said, quote, this is important american food that makes a lot of people happy. do you think you fell short of that?

>> in his opinion, that's what he's saying. no, do i think i'm falling short? no. by no means. i'm doing the type of foods that america loves and we're doing it the right way. could we make mistakes? absolutely. do we strive to be the best? yes. to me it's impossible to come in and have a dining experience and have every single thing wrong unless you come in with a different agenda and you want to sensationalize something and blow it out of the water. it's a great way to make a name for yourself. go after a celebrity chef who is not a new yorker.

>> and if you have -- you could say anything to this reviewer right now, what would you say?

>> you're welcome? i mean, it's a great -- like i said, i stand by my food, by my team, who will continue to do great. and i appreciate you giving me a chance to talk about it because it is the real deal.

>> all right, guy fieri , thanks for being here.

>> eat some of this.

>> you're going to love it.

>> i'll try it and report