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Mixed reviews about Guy Fieri opening a restaurant in Horseshoe Casino

Guy Fieri
photographs by Dara Bunjon©

Last week it was announced through the Baltimore Sun that the Food Network’s personality Guy Fieri was opening a 350-seat restaurant in Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino. Fieri, a restaurateur, cookbook author, television host has a personality so big it is hard to understand how he contains it in his mere mortal body. Fieri knows how to draw folks in but seems to have alienated a number of those in the culinary know. Fieri (originally Ferry) has never claimed to be a chef though I did hear the anchor last night on WJZ-TV call him Chef Guy Fieri- whoops! Like Rachel Ray, neither refer to themselves as chefs, Fieri is a restaurateur who likes to cook.

Little did I know that posting on Facebook how I felt about his upcoming restaurant would create such a firestorm of controversy?

My post, “Guy Fieri coming to Horseshoe me when you have someone like José Andrés, Jean-George Vongerichten, Marc Vetri, Norman Van Aken, David Chang and Eric Ripert. Guy Fieri not top of the list.” For me, Guy Fieri’s casual food cuisine is not a draw for me to go to Horseshoe Casino or any casino although culinary greats the caliber of José Andrés, David Chang or Eric Ripert would be. I was surprised at the number of comments and likes to my post. Love, hate, and little indifference as to what Fieri will bring to Baltimore – here is a cross section of the comments:

Fieri is an insult to the trade, what next?? Rachel Ray!

Love him. Sorry!

I like him too

Call me when Jacques shows up

But he cooks. A lot of people cook who are not chefs. Does he claim to be one? That would be wrong.

Yes, claiming to be 'a chef' is just wrong, regardless of the personality!

Oh, of course - 'chef' is an earned designation, not a title to be taken by anyone. I am trying to understand the disdain for Fieri. He is a reality show celebrity, and successful cook, but I'm not sure a casino in Baltimore would be an appropriate venue for anyone of a higher designation. To me it would be like expecting a prima ballerina to perform at a carnival. Seems to me the fit is perfect.

Really? Have you taken a look at how many famous chefs are working in Las Vegas lately?

Baltimore is no Las Vegas. And I like Baltimore - I'm just being honest.

It's about market. If Baltimore's casino had made a deal with an acclaimed 'chef' that would have been an incredible coup. However, I personally believe the casino will be sustained primarily by locals or tour bus types who may not, necessarily - recognize the names of most of the chefs mentioned by Dara. I do, however, believe they readily recognize 'Guy Fieri.' It seems to me, IMO, to be a reasonable partnership based solely on market. It is most certainly not an insult to either Las Vegas or Baltimore. It is a market-based reality.

I am not sure he has ever called himself a chef, has he? Like him or not, he said some nice things about Baltimore and, frankly, as lovely as we all know Bmore is, not everyone knows that so it's not a bad thing to have some people talking up the town that's known for The Wire. Is there anything bad that can come from more people viewing Baltimore as a place to be? If Fieri, Besh, and Sanchez are willing to come here and open restaurants, that opens the doors for others. It also means more people coming to town and trying the other great restaurants. I see nothing but good from new faces, new food, and thereby increased tourism. Why be unwelcoming to people willing to give Bmore a shot, and who are openly positive about the city? We should welcome them as they embrace this eccentric city.

Bmore's casino has made headway with acclaimed chefs. John Besh and Aaron Sanchez are collaborating to open Johnny Sanchez (a taqueria) in August or September. That said, we should still embrace anyone who wants to come here. And we have some pretty known chefs already with James Beard nominees and a Top Chef competitor. I think having known personalities or chefs is a great addition to the food scene.

The Prime Rib, is @ Arundel Mills Casino,.....Tom Collicchio, "Top Chef" @ Foxwoods Connecticut....yes, they need to, and will do better with, Anyone else, .....than Guy, an eccentric personality, not a Chef

I think, particularly from a marketing/tourism perspective, you are right on target. My problem with the judgement is not that the evaluation of his brand/attitude/product is off the mark (I really wouldn't know) - I totally trust Dara and she knows I worship her as my 'food sensei' - but I also think there is room for everyone. Baltimore is a great, quirky, smaller city with its own claim to fabulous chefs, marvelous restaurants, inventive cuisine and a certain sector of the population that appreciates those things. Baltimore has issues with 'outsiders' anyway, it would be a shame to put the pox on something before it saw the light of day. Anyway, I still hold fast to what I said earlier - Foxwoods is in CT, a suburb, basically, of NYC (BIG city) and everyone knows that. Baltimore disenfranchises itself from any nearby larger market (clears throat) thereby keeping itself deliberately the size that it is, and for its size, has a lot to offer, but it is not a Top 10 media market nor a Top 10 tourism market. But it could be. The Prime Rib is my favorite restaurant, but I would never PLAN to go to it at Arundel Mills (and I live in AA County), but I also don't think anyone outside of Baltimore really knows anything about the Prime Rib, so that would not be my personal comparison, but I get the point. People DO know "Guy Fieri" - right or wrong - and I think people who may not be 'foodies' will probably latch onto it.

Not a fan of Fieri's food. Less of a fan of Retchel Ray (hotdog salad google it). They are both from a category of personality I like to think of as "beta-foodies". He won a show, when there was room on the food network for a personality, he is a personality. So far as his restaurant/food goes, he makes stoner grub, and I think stoner grub will do well in a casino.

For those that did not read Pete Wells review of Fieri's NY restaurant, it is epic:

Baltimore is perceived as second tier and the entire casino roll-out in Maryland has been poorly handled.

Not a qualifier.. thank you

Stoner grub (to me) means any decadent food, to which you add an equally or gratuitously more decadent food. So... Tatertots, topped with bacon, and melted cheese. Or potato pancakes topped with duck confit. Deep fried ice-cream. All excellent examples.

Guy isn't that courageous with his menus and his restaurants are not known for quality. he's a CelebChef.

Chef huh? I don't see Guy at any alumni gatherings at CIA. Just hope the title doctor never gets this diluted.

A local restaurateur had the same response to posting the story on his Facebook page.

Apparently he has a lot of support in certain circles.#NOTMYCIRCLES.

I would rather visit Chaps for a pit beef on Pulaski and watch strippers at shift change.... Him & RR give cooking a bad name...

I wonder if it could possibly be as awful as his grease pit at Times Square?

Did I miss something? What's the real story behind Guy? I thought he was cool.

Time will be the truth teller for Fieri’s restaurant – welcome to Baltimore!

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