OPINION: Guy Fieri is the Nickelback of Celebrity Chefs

TV personality and restaurant-owner Guy Fieri is making headlines this week courtesy of a scathing review his new Times Square restaurant received from Pete Wells of the New York Times. Fieri has become a polarizing figure in the world of celebrity chefs: his shtick enjoyed by the masses while his credentials questioned by his critics.

Guy Fieri truly is the Nickelback of celebrity chefs.

The Canadian rockers have sold more than 50 million albums worldwide. In an age when music experts say “rock is dead,” Nickelback has charted nine songs in the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. The band is one of only a select few to have a “360 deal” with concert promoter Live Nation – the agreement is valued at an estimated $50-70 million.

Fieri’s career has skyrocketed since winning the second season of “The Next Food Network Star” in 2006. Shows like “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” and “Dinner: Impossible” have turned him in to a household name. The chef owns 11 restaurants, seven in California, and has even branched out in to other TV, hosting the now defunct “Minute to Win It” on NBC.

Yet, the harshest critics are quick to dismiss Nickelback as so produced and manufactured that its product doesn’t classify as “real rock.” Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney quipped to Rolling Stone, “Rock & roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world.”

Carney eventually issued a half-hearted apology… after all; he did criticize one of the biggest bands in the world.

And while Wells’ critique of Fieri, his use of adjectives, his “Donkey Sauce,” and his establishment was far beyond any condemnation you would expect from a single person, he is far from Fieri’s first detractor. Not only is Fieri known in some chef circles more for his TV antics then culinary skills, but other food critics have given similar feedback on the same restaurant, the two-month old, Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar. New York Post columnist Steve Cuozzo took to his column and said he “wouldn’t feed the mess to a cat.”

Both Fieri and Nickelback have managed to accumulate mass appeal despite their respective inner-circles deeming their work not just bad, but not worthy. I don’t wonder how it is possible, but I do think to myself: can people simply not tell the difference between good and bad, or do the “know-it-alls” know less than we think?

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