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Diners Drive-ins and Dives

After years of being a fan and trying to visit the places featured on this show, Guy Fieri stuffing his face is finally getting on my nerves.

"Mmmmmmm, that ___ is on point!"

"That's one of the best ____ I've eaten all year"

If I *am* watching the show, my favorite thing to do is watch the chef watch Guy Fieri stuff his face. I always get the feeling Fieri's team does not pay for the food they're eating, or at least it seems so by the way the chefs tend to wince and grimace watching him eat it. Or at least that's my interpretation of what's going on.

In the old country they would call such people "moft-khor," meaning someone who "eats-for-free," a derogatory term implying the person is a parasite.

Of course, the chef might be grimacing from uncertainty, nervous about how he'll react to the food; but they shouldn't be nervous, as his reviews are uniformly spectacular. Also, it seems silly for the chef to be concerned about the cost of the food in comparison to the great publicity the show provides.... but I still get the vibe these chefs are a little annoyed.

I have yet to see many chefs cheer him on to eat more, or look thrilled as he's stuffing his face. Has anyone else noticed this, or am I alone in this observation?

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  1. Hi, alarash:

    Nope, I think you nailed it. I'm amused that GF always seems to act like the chef and he are kindred souls, and the chefs all act like they can't wait for him to scuttle off.

    I think the show's single virtue is that it shows places that exist.

    Aloha,
    Kaleo

    21 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu

      that is the ONLY point of the show, to highlight places that are off the general radar, now if it could just be done without Guy...

      1. re: hill food

        I've become more accepting of the show and Guy as time has passed, but my complaint is how rare an actual diner, drive in or dive is actually shown. More often than not it's a middle-class roadhouse style big food family joint with a specialty, which is nice but not exactly off the beaten path.

        1. re: ennuisans

          I don't believe the point of the show is to feature eateries that are off the beaten path.

          1. re: John E.

            Maybe there's a better way of phrasing it. Places with cult popularity?

            There is, for instance, in the St Louis area, a place called Carl's Drive In. They serve home made IBC Root Beer from the original recipe and people seem to like their tamales. There is only counter seating that might fit 20 people tops, and the parking lot is packed from open to close. But this is not going to be on the show.

            Andrew Zimmern did a great job showcasing places in St Louis with little visibility in just one show. Guy probably has as well, but with far less consistency. And I have yet to see a dive.

            1. re: ennuisans

              Why do you believe Carl's Drive In won't ever make it on D, D, & D?

              Al's Breakfast in Minneapolis certainly qualifies as a dive. (It's a "dive aspiring to be a diner.") It's been on D, D, & D twice. (Of course many on the production team are from the Twin Cities.)

              1. re: John E.

                I believe that Carl's won't be on DDD (or The Buttery, or South City Diner) because even though they are well known locally, their food is just average in itself. They are "made" good by cultural and social relationships, but the food is not something Guy is going to moan over.

                1. re: ennuisans

                  D, D, & D. did a shoot at a drive-in in Cloquet, Minnesota that really has just decent burgers, fries, and chili.

                  I do know that the criteria for getting on the show is good food that is made on site with nothing coming from Sysco and the like.

          2. re: ennuisans

            Reminds of the complaints about a certain Oklahoma woman who isn't much of a pioneer, and a Connecticut cook who wears shoes (and isn't a countess)!

            1. re: paulj

              Good point. Which also reminds me of a constant judging complaint in the competition shows: if you're going to call it a taco, you can't fault people for expecting a taco.

          3. re: hill food

            Hi, hill:

            Really? My sense is that the places they feature are on EVERYBODY'S radar in the general area. It appears to me as more of a local hit parade than showing hidden gems.

            I think the show easily *could* be done by just about anyone (I can gorge and intone "Mmmmmmmmmm, Man!" just like Guy, maybe better). Or, it could be done with no one but patrons who're familiar with the joint's food, in sort of a guided YouTube style. Or a disembodied AI voiceover added in postproduction, I don't know.

            Hell, any of the fired Chow people could do a better job than GF, IMO.

            Aloha,
            Kaleo

            1. re: kaleokahu

              in the areas I've lived in - yes they are already known and either loved or reviled, but for a casual visitor, sometimes they are unheard of.

              I prefer your idea, whenever I hear "It's Time For..." I mutter 'nope, not for me it ain't' and change the channel.

              1. re: kaleokahu

                There are tourists who specifically search out the places featured on these shows when they travel to new locations. So they do get publicity for being on the show.

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  GF makes about $5mm per year.

                  I don't.

                  Love him or hate him, he has a personality that people like enough to watch him.

                  He is an entertainer and I know I couldn't do what he does. I doubt that most CHs could either.

                  If I could, I probably would.

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    There is a PBS show called "Check Please xxx" that is produced in several cities. I think it originated in Chicago, we have our own version in the SF Bay Area. Anyone (regular people) can nominate a restaurant and the producers select three per episode. The three panel members visit each restaurant anonymously with their own family or friends and then they tape a panel discussion. They also tape a segment with the restaurant chef or owners after they have been selected for the show. It's quite entertaining and everyone does not always agree on the restaurants.

                    1. re: pamf

                      Hi, Pam:

                      We have a Check Please in the Seattle PBS market. I enjoyed the several episodes I've watched.

                      Aloha,
                      Kaleo

                      1. re: pamf

                        We watch that out in our area (Chicago). My only problem is they don't high light places in the burbs as much as I would like.

                        1. re: libgirl2

                          Hi Kaleo,
                          I didn't know Seattle had a version of the show. I will check it out online. Our SF station (kqed.org) puts all the shows online once they have aired.

                          Hi libgirl2, I can imagine with the Chicago metro area being so huge that it would be hard to cover every where. But you and your friends could start nominating places.

                          In the SF Bay Area we get a pretty good range of restaurants, from San Jose to the Napa Valley.

                    2. re: hill food

                      I'd much rather see clips of Jane and Michael Stern from Roadfood.com visiting their off-the-beaten-path eating places. They come across as much more authentic and less celebrity-driven than Guy ever could.

                        1. re: rozz01

                          I'd watch the hell out of that. The Sterns are like the proto-Guy

                        2. re: CindyJ

                          Has anyone seen video of the Sterns? I hear them regularly on The Splendid Table. And last weekend I caught the tail end of a clip of them on Rick Steve's travel show. But I don't know how they'd come across on video. Sometimes people are better with just the audio.

                    3. From what I've heard, a place shown on DDD is in for a huge increase in business. HUGE.

                      The cost of food to feed Fieri is indeed dirt cheap compared to the value of the advertising.

                      I'm not a particular fan of the show, but if I had a restaurant I'd be ecstatic to have him drip televised juices on my floor.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: sal_acid

                        Hi, Sal:

                        Sure, there's no such thing as bad publicity (what the French call "Succès de Scandale"). It made P.T. Barnum, Mae West, Stravinsky, Manet, and Paris Hilton, among others.

                        To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, the only dive worse than one being talked about is one not being talked about.

                        Aloha,
                        Kaleo

                        1. re: sal_acid

                          We DO own a restaurant and I would be extremely reluctant to have us featured on DDD or any other food show. According to the SBA, a major reason for business failure is growing too rapidly. We're already operating at maximum capacity and do not have room to expand inside or out. I like free publicity as well as anyone but you CAN have too much of a good thing.

                          1. re: elegraph

                            Is your restaurant quite profitable? If so, I can understand your point.

                            If you cannot handle more business while making a profit, I can understand why you would be reluctant to appear on D, D, & D.

                            1. re: elegraph

                              I am familiar with a local bar/restaurant that was on DDD. I first heard about them on my regional Chowhound board.

                              This is a small place, tiny kitchen and when we first started going there it was usually just the husband (chef) and wife (bartending) owners and maybe one or two other employees. Pretty great food and a fun atmosphere.

                              I don't know about profits but I know that things changed a lot after DDD. They had to scramble to get more staff, add more seating. And they got a lot unfavorable comments on Y**p about slow service and that people's expectations from the show were not being met. Apparently some people were surprised that a place that was advertised as a dive bar was actually kind of divey.

                              The good news is that they are still in business, doing what they do, after a few years.

                          2. I guess ill disagree with everyone. I think the cooks or chefs are just nervous about how he is going to react to the food. I think there thinking nothing of the cost.

                            Guy seems to really love food and to me seems to be one of the only ones who actually tastes the food before he goes 'hmm hmm'... A pet peeve of mine if one someone has barley bit down and there already rolling there eyes at how good something is.

                            You can tell when Guy dosnt like something as he usually immediately starts talks about the ingredients. Not always but a lot.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: daislander

                              Where I live, in Cincinnati, the places Guy has featured have had varying degrees of renown. Of the three I can think of, I'd been to Blue Ash Chili several times, but never to Terry's Turf Club or Virgil's Café (across the river in Bellevue, KY. And Virgil's is now one of our favorite places.

                              1. re: daislander

                                I read an article about the show in FN magazine. Apparently he does not meet with the chefs before filming because he prefers to authentically react to the Chef and the food. He said even if he doesn't like what he's eating, he will try to find something positive to say about it, very fresh or you can really taste the whatever ingredient. He claims he will not lie and say something is fantastic if it is not. He also tells the chef/owners to print up shirts or bumper stickers whatever the gimmick because after the show airs they may think they'll be prepared for the bump in business but they have no clue.

                                I don't watch DDD very often but I found the article interesting.

                                1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                  Not sure I believe him, though. We ate at a DDD restaurant, and the waiter laughed and said that he was told what to say.

                              2. My main issue with DDD is that the places he goes are typically higher end casual places...at least that is true for the places he has been in Portland. He went to County Cat which is a pretty nice place if you ask me.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: jpc8015

                                  The DDD places that I've been to have definitely not been higher-end - they've exemplified at least one of the D's.

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