Between his loud shirts and his loud voice, celebrity chef, restaurateur and now winemaker Guy Fieri has undeniable presence. His warm personality and eagerness to support business owners on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” have made Fieri one of America’s most beloved TV personalities.
There’s much more to the brash entrepreneur than simply hawking Donkey Sauce and running Flavortown as mayor. Check out these lesser-known facts about Chef Fieri.
He Was Born Guy Ferry
Throughout his childhood, teens and most of his 20s, Guy’s last name was “Ferry.” The name “Fieri” (pronounced like “Fieddi”) didn’t become Guy’s official last name until 1995 when he married his wife, Lori, and changed his last name (and the one she took on) from Ferry to Fieri, to honor his great-grandfather, Giuseppe Fieri.
He Was An Entrepreneur At The Age Of 10
It turns out that Fieri is a natural-born entrepreneur. At age 10, he and his father refashioned a three-wheeled bicycle cart into a pretzel cart and hawked soft pretzels. They called it The Awesome Pretzel Company.
Before College, Fieri Studied Abroad In Chantilly, France
He Has A Degree In Hospitality Management
While pursuing his degree in hospitality management at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Fieri held several restaurant jobs, including one as a flambé captain. Upon graduating, he continued to work in kitchens before opening up his first restaurant in 1996: an Italian place called Johnny Garlic’s in Santa Rosa, California.
He’s Been Married To His Wife For More Than 2 Decades
Fieri’s relationship with his wife, Lori, started with an argument before he wooed her with his cooking, and the rest is history! As Fieri told Delish, Lori was with a friend who’d been let go from a restaurant he was running. The pair returned to the restaurant as customers and, while he balked at first, he decided to let them stay, in part because he had eyes for Lori. They’ve been happily married since 1995 and they live in northern California.
There’s A Story Behind Why It’s Called ‘Donkey Sauce’
Anyone who’s watched Fieri on TV or visited one of his restaurants knows that he’s known for his famous “Donkey Sauce.” No, the sauce is not made out of donkeys (despite a cheeky comment to that effect in the New York Times’ review of Fieri’s Times Square restaurant). The nickname came about from a comment that was lost in translation.
As Fieri explained to Las Vegas magazine, during one of his kitchen jobs on a Carnival cruise, he instructed a worker who wasn’t a native English speaker to “… put the sauce on the burger or you’re a jack*ss.’ And [the employee] goes, ‘Jack*ss? What’s a jack*ss?’ ‘It’s a donkey.’ ‘Oh, so it’s donkey sauce.’ That’s really how it happened.”
Melissa McCarthy Based Her Character In ‘Bridesmaids’ On Fieri
Melissa McCarthy’s character was one of the most hilarious parts of “Bridesmaids” — and it turns out that Fieri inadvertently had a hand in the character’s development.
“Really, when I first read it, the first person that I thought of was Guy Fieri from the Food Network,” McCarthy told Conan O’Brien in 2011. “I wanted to do the shirt, the Kangol. Every scene I would have my glasses on the back of my head.”
It really makes sense now that you know that, doesn’t it?
His Food Style Is About As Far From His Parents’ As Possible
Fieri’s parents, whom he calls “hippies,” presumably didn’t care for diners, drive-ins or dives, preferring healthier cuisine.
“My parents were all into macrobiotic cooking and natural cooking, and my sister was a vegetarian,” Fieri told Food Network. His own preference is for meat and more meat: pork chops, chicken Parm, meatballs and steak.
There Is One Exception To That Meat Obsession
Despite his rebellion against his parents’ healthy-eating tendencies, Fieri can’t resist the nutrient-packed goodness of kale. In fact, he considers it as substantial — and as important — as a meat entrée.
“I think kale is a vegetable that eats like a protein,” he told Food Network. “It’s hearty. You can eat it raw, chopped in a salad, you can eat it cooked, wilted and beat up like a collard green. … It’s super-fortifying and very healthy for you.”
He Was Once Trampled By A Horse
At the age of 10, Fieri was thrown from a horse and trampled, leaving him with severe injuries and later a huge scar. He required an emergency operation, but he lived to tell the tale.
He Has 2 Sons — Ryder And Hunter
Together with his wife, Lori, Fieri has two sons: Hunter and Ryder, now ages 22 and 13, respectively. One of the perks of being Guy Fieri’s kid? Getting to pick out which of your dad’s swanky cars you’d like to ride in to school.
One Of His Sons Is Following In His Footsteps
Fieri’s older son, Hunter, seems to have inherited his dad’s need to create in the kitchen. Currently enrolled in the hospitality program at his father’s alma mater, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Hunter is also interning with Caesars, where celeb chefs Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, and Gordon Ramsay all have restaurants.
“I didn’t really like anything else,” Hunter explained to Delish. “Cooking is what it is. It’s what I do. It’s what we all do.”
He Brings A Wok When He Goes Camping
Forget roasting weenies on a stick! Fieri totes along a wok when he goes camping, broadening his family’s campsite menu to include all sorts of flavors and textures.
“Outdoor cooking is not just about hot dogs and hamburgers,” he told Food Network. “There are so many styles of food you can make.”
He Once Decided To Create A Pop-Up Restaurant While On A Cruise
While enjoying a Carnival cruise with his family, Fieri had the idea to do a pop-up restaurant on the ship.
“The bigwigs thought I was crazy, but they agreed, and I rallied all my boys to help out,” he told Delish. “In three hours, we served 700 burgers to I don’t know how many people. It got out of control; they had to come in and start putting up barriers because people were going so crazy.”
The Fieris have since launched over a dozen restaurants on Carnival cruise ships.
He’s Getting A Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
The 2019 Hollywood Walk of Fame inductees were announced in June 2018 — and Fieri’s name was included. This means that next year, Fieri will pose alongside his very own star on Hollywood Boulevard. Other icons joining him on the Walk in 2019 include Dolly Parton, Robert De Niro, Jackie Wilson and (posthumously) Julia Child.
He Likes To Watch Other Cooking Shows On The Food Network
Fieri enjoy the competitive spirit of cooking shows like “Iron Chef” and “Chopped” — and he admires the contestants who put themselves through the challenges.
“I think it is crazy what those chefs go through,” he told Food Network.
He Loves Cilantro
Cilantro is a divisive herb, with some folks finding it crisp and refreshing while others (perhaps due to genetics) insist it tastes bitter and soapy. Fieri falls firmly into the pro-cilantro camp, and he claims it’s one of his absolute favorite herbs.
The Best Advice He Ever Received Was From Rachael Ray
When Fieri was first on “Food Network Star” as a hopeful TV chef contestant, he heard three little words from Rachael Ray that changed his life: “Never burn tape.” She meant that, as a TV host, you’ve got to roll with what happens and make something out of even the moments that seem like mistakes or dead air.
“It was the best advice of my life,” Fieri told Delish. “Keep going. Even when your mic falls off, or the lights go out, or you think nobody’s watching, you don’t give up. ‘We’ve got a job to do,’ she told me, ‘so you’ve got to stick with it and be involved.'” Sounds like good advice!
He Has His Own Wine Label
Named Hunt & Ryde after his sons, Hunter and Ryder, Fieri’s organic winery was born out of a reverence for the more enlightened way Europeans approach alcohol consumption and a desire to leave his sons a legacy.
“We all love wine,” he told the Daily Beast. “And wine is so misunderstood. Wine is not a price tag. Wine is an art.”
The wine is crafted from grapes in California’s Sonoma County and Wine Enthusiast magazine gave the Old Vine Zinfandel 92 points (out of 100), with tasting notes of “savory black olive, black pepper and a strong current of Italian deli aromas and flavors. Pillowy tannin and a shot of tobacco add nicely to the whole.”
He Officiated 101 Gay Weddings At The Same Time
Soon after Florida lifted the ban on same-sex marriages in early 2015, a mass same-sex wedding for 101 couples was planned in Miami by celebrity chef Art Smith (Oprah Winfrey’s former personal chef). Fieri, in town for the Miami Food and Wine Festival, donned a purple suit and officiated the unions, while fellow TV chef Duff Goldman of “Ace of Cakes” made the cake.
He Has A Pet Tortoise Named Pops
The large sulcata tortoise known as Pops has his own pen on the Fieri family property, though he has repeatedly broken free of it, causing the family to “hunt him down.” Fieri also claimed that Pops has a “girlfriend” in the form of a hard hat that sits in his pen. How romantic!
He Volunteered To Cook Food For Evacuees And Firefighters
As wildfires ravaged northern California in the fall of 2017, displacing hundreds of residents — including Fieri himself — the chef partnered with the Salvation Army to help his fellow evacuees and the first responders working to rescue residents. Fieri set up a temporary kitchen in Santa Rosa, California, and cooked a total of 23,000 meals over the course of a week.
On his Salvation Army donation page, beneath a plea for donations to continue relief efforts, he signed off in classic Fieri style: “Love, Peace and Taco Grease.”
He’s A Big Fan Of Canning
Every summer, Fieri turns the spoils of his garden into jarred deliciousness through the magic of canning. He recommends canning as a way to save money on beloved preserves, such as bell peppers.
“It costs so much to buy them roasted in the jar, especially off-season,” he explained to Food Network. “You’ll save so much money by canning them yourself.”
He Loved Bobby Moynihan’s Impression Of Him On ‘Saturday Night Live’
You might think that Fieri would have been offended by Bobby Moynihan’s satirical (and oh- so-funny!) impressions of him on “Saturday Night Live,” but apparently the opposite is true!
“I love it,” he told Parade. “Whenever he’s done it, he’s texted me the next day to ask how I liked it, and I always tell him he’s brilliant.”
He’s Opening A Chicken Tenders Restaurant At Disney
Together with restaurateur Robert Earl, later this month Fieri is opening a restaurant at Disney Springs, a dining and entertainment center at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. The new venture is called Chicken Guy and it’s devoted to all things fried chicken — including, of course, at least 20 homemade dipping sauces. Just a little bit of Flavortown in the happiest place on earth!
He Lost His Sister, Morgan, To Cancer
Fieri’s sister, Morgan, had beaten cancer when she was 14, but it returned in her later years, and she ultimately passed away at the age of 38. Fieri has a tattoo of Morgan on his arm, and he told GQ that losing her was “the worst thing in the world, man. Nothing you can do about it except hold on, love your family, love your sister.”
Still, he has hope of reuniting with Morgan in some capacity. “There’s gotta be another union at some point in time,” he said. “I’m not a religious person by any means. [But] I believe that there’s a lot more going on.”
He Thinks Kids Should Help In The Kitchen
According to Fieri, getting kids involved in cooking will help picky eaters feel more connected with and excited about their food. It also keeps kids off their computers and teaches them how to engage in real life.
His Favorite Drink Is Fernet-Branca
When pressed to choose a favorite drink, Fieri picked “the great digestivo,” Fernet-Branca, a bitter Italian liqueur made with herbs and spices.
“I can enjoy it warm,” he told The Daily Beast. “I can enjoy it cold. I keep it in my fridge. I have one in every freezer. Not everybody loves Fernet, which makes it even more exciting. … I like really off flavors. I’m a big black licorice fan.”
He Won’t Eat The Parts Of An Animal That ‘Had A Job’
Fieri has made it known that he truly enjoys meat. But he draws the line at eating any parts of animals beyond muscles and fat.
“I eat, but I do not appreciate the parts of the animal that had a job,” Fieri told a local Humboldt County news outlet in 2010. “Parts that are licked, make sound, push, filter, walk and so on are not for me.”
He Has An Evel Knievel Tattoo
A huge fan of Evel Knievel, Fieri has a tattoo honoring the late daredevil, and he also appears in a documentary about him. With reverence, Fieri says in the film, “He only knew, ‘Go big, or go home.’ And the dude never went home!”