It's true that many of us enjoy picking on Guy Fieri, but as the comic Shane Torres says in his act, “As far as I can tell, all he ever did was follow his dreams. People are horrible to [him], but he didn’t do anything wrong!” Torres goes on to enumerate all the good things Guy Fieri does — he’s a generous boss, a charitable celeb, and a free advertising outlet for small businesses all over America.
Now, Guy Fieri is using his bleach-tipped Midas touch to help out a new class of ambitious Food Network hopefuls. On the first season of his show, Guy’s Big Project, the chef pitted eager contestants against each other to see who could claim a coveted contract for a new Food Network travel series.
In a twist, Fieri — who owes his own fame to winning season two of The Next Food Network Star — chose not one, but two show concepts to turn into series, both of which premiered on Food Network in mid-December. In upcoming episodes, the shows, which are produced by Fieri, find their hosts sampling the savory flavors of San Antonio and Austin.
Rashad Jones is a self-described “barbecue nerd,” so it’s no wonder his new show, Eat, Sleep, BBQ (airing Saturdays at 8 pm CT) is making its way to San Antonio for its December 30 episode. Jones is the co-owner of the popular food truck Big Lee’s Barbecue in Ocala, Florida, where he also volunteers with underserved youth in his community.
His new show sends him to famed barbecue hot spots around the country. In Alamo City, Jones visits King’s Hwy Brew & Q, pitmaster Emilio Soliz’s Tex-Mex/barbecue fusion restaurant he calls “Mexi-Q.” There, Rashad tackles a four-taco plate featuring brisket, pork belly, chicken, and pulled pork (with a generous side of burracho beans, of course).
Mark Anderson and Ryan Fey are The Grill Dads (airing Fridays at 8:30 pm CT). Two husky, good-natured dudes, Anderson and Fey are lifelong friends and amateur grill masters who travel coast to coast discovering over the top, outrageous cuisine, while whipping off a few great dad jokes along the way. The upcoming January 5 episode has them in Austin to sample a true, local institution: the beef chili with mac-and-cheese that’s kept the Texas Chili Parlor in business for more than 40 years.
Both of these new series demonstrate a great deal of promise, and their hosts are a lot of fun to spend half an hour with. Let’s all give Guy a break, flip our sunglasses backwards, and hop on the bus to Flavortown. Without him, these fledgling Food Network stars may never have had a shot at foodie fame.