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Fieri says scathing New York Times review 'ridiculous,' unfair

  • Guy Fieri. (PD FILE, 2007)

Celebrity chef Guy Fieri went national Thursday to strike back at a scathing New York Times review of his new Times Square restaurant.

Appearing live on NBC's "Today" show, the spiky-haired Santa Rosa resident was typically animated in his defense of his 2-month-old Guy's American Kitchen & Bar.

"I just thought it was ridiculous. It went so overboard that it really seemed like there was another agenda," Fieri said of the review by Pete Wells, the Times' chief dining critic, who took a prose cleaver to the $8 million restaurant's food, service and decor.

Fieri did not respond Wednesday or Thursday to requests for an interview, but his New York public relations firm issued a statement in which, not surprisingly, he said, "I wholeheartedly disagree" with the review.

"Given the tone of Pete's piece, it's clear to me that he went into my restaurant with his mind already made up. That's unfortunate," the statement said.

"Today" co-host Savannah Guthrie said Fieri took a red-eye flight to New York for the interview at NBC, the network that carried his prime-time game show, "Minute to Win It," for two seasons. He told "Today" that Wells didn't acknowledge the overall challenges of opening a new restaurant, and he questioned the motives of a reviewer who visited four times and "couldn't find anything good to say."

"He wanted to sensationalize something," Fieri said.

The Tuesday review, written as 34 rhetorical questions -- "Does this make it sound as if everything at Guy's American Kitchen & Bar is inedible? I didn't say that, did I?" -- has spread like wildfire across social media.

"Is there anything that strikes a chord, that's not up to your standards?" Guthrie asked Fieri.

"Without question, yes," the Food Network star answered. "I've been in the restaurant business 25 years and this is an ever-changing, evolving process. Do we do it perfect? No. Are we striving to do it perfect? Yes."

The restaurant's listing on Yelp, the popular public review site, gave it only 2 stars out of a possible five, Guthrie noted.

"So, it's kind of -- not necessarily knocking people's socks off," she said.

"At this point, (after) two months, we're not really expecting to," said Fieri, whose seven California restaurants include three in Sonoma County. "I mean we're trying to, we're trying as hard as we can to make it right, to do it right."

Oh, and on Thursday, the website theblister.com reported the New York Times had confirmed its advertising sales department threw a Wednesday night party for 160 people, planned weeks in advance, at Guy's American Kitchen & Bar.

You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or jeremy.hay@pressdemocrat.com or on Twitter @jeremyhay

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